Where will the boxes go? Who will buy? Dozens of companies are jumping in, many with wild and contradictory ideas. "Levels of Edge" brings some order to the analysis.

Edge clouds reduce latency with servers close to the customer. The true believers talk 1-4 ms; the actual results for now are likely 15-25 ms. That's great for multi-player Pokemon, worthless for controlling autonomous vehicles. 

Level 1 Edge Clouds don't exist yet and may cost too much to deploy. 1 ms 5G is still in the lab and years away from deployment. the 5G deploying is ~10 ms. 

A Level 2 site is building in Chicago with equipment moving in. Vapor is supplying the main boxes. The server adds ~ 4 ms. Level 2 sites aim for 10-20 ms. Cole Crawford of Vapor tells Mike Dano their boxes are "tower-aggregated and connected, not tower-located." Vapor is not, as originally thought, going directly to the cell.  Federated Wireless is testing a new radio network, which may be the only way to performance desired.

Level 3 sites are testing in live networks at Deutsche Telekom and in China.

Level 3 is still within the carrier network but further back. Current expectations are 20-25 seconds, with better to come. 

Level 4 sites are an intriguing new possibility. Verizon and Telefonica are installing routers and switches with very low latency and cutting out layers. In 25-50 ms, networks like this can carry your data to the peering points at the other end of their networks. A relative handful of telco data centres at the interconnection points could easily reach the entire network, usually quite rapidly. Akamai and the Googles of the world are already there. Level 4 is primarily what we have today with a more efficient transport network. The speeds are similar enough they may reduce the need for today's Edge clouds.

Level 5 is what we have today. My Netflix and everything else runs fine. Maybe that's enough.

LTE Level 5 30-75+ms Today  
5G or LTE Level 4 25-50+ ms Good transport  
5G with servers in telco core Level 3 20-25 ms
Deploying in DT and China
5G with few hops Level 2 10-20 ms
First units getting to the field.
5G with 1 ms air latency Level 1 5-12 ms
Not expected out of the labs for years.


dave ask

@analysisbranch for latest updates


Welcome  Asia is installing hundreds of thousands of 5G radios and adding 5G subs by the tens of millions. The west is far behind. 200,000,000 in 2020

The demand is there, and most of the technology works. Meanwhile, the hype is unreal. Time for reporting closer to the truth.

I'm Dave Burstein, Editor. I've been reporting telecom since 1999. I love to hear from readers and say thank you when you find an error. daveb@dslprime.com

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