The Role of CDNs in The Era of 5G

neuCentrIX - 07/12/2021 10:00

5G is happening, and it will significantly change how our technologically empowered world works. All aspects of digital infrastructure will evolve around 5G and its capabilities, and one of the key aspects is CDNs. CDNs have been considered a major infrastructure since the rise of online content delivery; however, in the era of 5G, they are expected to play an even bigger role. To understand this role, we need to look at the three applications of 5G.

There are three applications 5G promises: enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), ultra-reliable and low-latency communication (URLLC), and massive machine-type communication (mMTC). eMBB refers to the replacement of 4G LTE networks with 5G for speed improvement. Meanwhile, URLLC describes critical applications that have low-latency and high-reliability data transfer, such as autonomous driving or robotic surgery. Finally, mMTC is designed for a massive network of IoT devices. To be able to fully work, each application has specific infrastructure requirements. CDNs will be one of the key infrastructures, enabling the applications to display the benefits of 5G, in three ways.

CDNs Will Provide Acceleration at The Edge for eMBB.
The eMBB application emphasizes high bandwidth and high throughput of the network. 5G has been developed around commercial purposes rather than meeting the needs of individual users, so the application will be seen a lot in industrial scenarios, such as manufacturing, production, industrial security, and other industry verticals. Even though there should be no issue with speed — the speed of the 5G network is expected to be about 10 times what we have today, the increased consumption of HD videos in both individual and industrial scenarios will take the network traffic load to a new level. For instance, intelligent security which will commonly be implemented by businesses requires a large number of HD cameras, meaning that ultra HD videos will be produced and uploaded constantly. CDNs — evolved and upgraded versions of them —  will be responsible for providing more advanced acceleration, load balancing, and storage capabilities at the network edge to take the massive load off the origin servers and the central network.

CDNs Will Level Up Edge Computing Capabilities for URLCC.
As it stands for ultra-reliable and low-latency communication, URLCC application provides ultra-responsive and reliable connections. As it offers about 5ms end-to-end latency between the user equipment and 5G eNodeB element, URLCC application is ideal for situations that rely on real-time data transmission, such as in VR, cloud gaming, unmanned driving, and remote treatment and medication. Take 5G unmanned driving as an example. In its implementation, unmanned driving will need to obtain maps from the cloud and upload road conditions to the cloud in real-time, placing specific requirements on network latency and reliability which can only be met by uRLLC. CDNs, which may be customized for specific requirements, will play an important role in advancing edge computing and application delivery capabilities to support uRLLC use cases while tackling additional challenges in content routing, management, purging, and security.

CDNs’ Network Structure Will Facilitate mMTC.
Meanwhile, mMTC supports a highly dense network of devices and long-range transmission with low cost and long battery life, making it ideal for IoT. For example, in industrial scenarios, such as temperature monitors and predictive maintenance, a large number of sensors will be deployed and connected to the network. When working, these sensors will generate a huge amount of data. The network edges will need to handle a fair amount of computing and storage to take the load off the origin cloud. CDN network nodes will be in charge of facilitating the implementation of mMTC. However, to achieve better accuracy, the currently common CDN network structure will need to be adjusted; a CDN network structure will require more nodes which are placed in higher density.

All in all, to be able to fully support 5G applications, CDNs will need to go through certain changes and be different from what they are today. However, as changes will only increase their capabilities, CDNs will certainly play a significant role in the 5G era.