Steve Carlini, vice president of innovation and data centers for IT at Schneider Electric, explained the telco functionality in data centers to TechRepublic's Senior Writer Teena Maddox during the Innovation Summit North America. The following is an edited transcript of the interview.
The promise of 5G
Steve Carlini: 5G is interesting because it's promising less than one millisecond latency. So to do that, there has to be a local instance of a data center, local cache sending the information. We're starting to see the cache and the information moving closer and closer to the users.
The first step that we see is going be what are called regional or metro data centers. We're going start to see the content and the telco functionality have combination data centers in these facilities. They're going to be closer. And we're going to see a local progression. But it's not going to happen for, we don't think, a couple more years. We're going to see the regional instance of these data centers happen. We think in 2019 and 2020, there's going to be a big influx of 5G functionality. And with 5G functionality, you're talking about things like millimeter wave technology and cRAN is virtualized. So the whole 5G upgrading system and network is going be different than what you're used to.
Investing in technology
Steve Carlini: To do that, there has to be a technology investment. And the technology investment of 5G, which is really kind of the wireless front end of the internet or the telco network, heavily relies on cRAN and cRAN is a new technology and it's not going to be available for what we call the local or the micro data centers that you're going to need. It's going to have to start in the regional or the metro edge data centers. We're going to see that deployment first. It's going to be using the 5G technology which are millimeter waves and things like that. But it's not going to have the latency that people are gonna expect right out of the gate.
SEE: 5G technology: A business leader's guide (Tech Pro Research)
How 5G works
Steve Carlini: So, because 5G operates on a much higher spectrum, the wave forms do not travel like the lower spectrum waves travel. So you have a natural limitation there. They also are challenged by going through solid objects. You have higher propagation losses the farther you're away. It doesn't go through walls very well, it doesn't go through people very well. You're going to see, and it's pretty well known, that there are going to be many, many more small antennas all over the place to enable the community or the cluster that's going to function within 5G.
The way that the wave forms and beamforming works in a traditional 4G is that you hook up to one cell tower and, as you get closer to another cell tower, it transfers. It's a one-to-one relationship. And 5G, it's a multiple-to-one relationship. So you're communicating with multiple antennas at the same time. And as you move around, you transfer. And as you have line of sight, you move from antenna to antenna.
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Teena Maddox is a Senior Writer at TechRepublic, covering hardware devices, IoT, smart cities and wearables. She ties together the style and substance of tech. Teena has spent 20-plus years writing business and features for publications including People, W and Women's Wear Daily.