While 5G Edge allows both 5G and 4G LTE connected devices to interact with compute resources at the edge, the difference in quality-of-experience is unmistakable.
While users can expect 50-80ms latency in 4G networks, 5G networks are anticipated to support end-to-end latency targets in the range of 20ms. The improved latency results are enabled not only by spectrum, such as millimeter wave, but also by the unique advantages afforded by the 5G network design.
Consider the following analogy: you are an ice cream truck operator and hoping to optimize your operations to accommodate the maximum number of customers on a summer afternoon. Today, given the unparalleled demand, you experience a hoard of customers around your truck, with each customer concurrently shouting their requests for ice cream flavors. Currently, you optimize your store across two dimensions:
- Customer selection rate: The number of seconds required for the employee to decide which customer to serve next.
- Service rate: The number of seconds required for the employee to scoop the ice cream onto a cone for a given customer
In many cases, once the employee has identified which flavor the customer wants, the actual scooping time is fairly quick. Rather, the choice of which customer to serve next—in the absence of a clear, single-file line—is often the bottleneck.
In the case of the 5G network, this ice cream-scooping dilemma is ever present. In 5G, the customer selection speed is the control plane latency, measuring for the network attachment operation & air interface, and the scooping speed is the data plane latency, measuring the packet latency upon connection. In 5G, while the data plane latency decreases marginally, the primary benefits are realized by a significant decrease in control plane latency.