You know a new technology is revolutionary if people call it futuristic. Edge computing, the Internet of Things (IoT), and the 5G network have emerged as the technologies driving change throughout the world. 

The global edge computing market is expected to rise to nearly $11 billion by 2026. It’s safe to say that businesses adapt it readily and spend top dollar to reap its benefits. But what exactly is edge computing?

What Is Edge Computing?

Edge computing refers to collecting and processing data at the edge of the network. In other words, the processing and storing happen at or near where the data is produced or received instead of a centralized cloud server. 

This involves smart devices at the edge of the network capable of processing the data. Basically, they do all the work independently without entirely relying on the cloud. As a result, the speed of processing, and subsequent decision-making based on that data, improves drastically. Since data is an invaluable asset for any business, the need to collect and process it quickly and more reliably is ever-increasing. 

Why Is Edge Computing Important?

Every new technology aims to resolve existing problems, which is precisely why edge computing matters. It can help resolve some drawbacks of cloud computing and other existing technologies for data storage and processing. 

  • Distributed Architecture: Computing needs can vary vastly depending on business niche or model. This means the architecture needs to match the processing needs. By implementing a distributed data processing architecture, edge computing simplifies the process. 
  • Speed: Edge computing can reduce latency, the time it takes for data to travel from one point to another in a network. When the data is being stored or processed at the edge device, it reduces or eliminates the need for that data to travel to another central location. 
  • Cost Savings: Businesses can reduce bandwidth costs with edge computing. Networks typically have limited bandwidth and pay for what they use. With edge computing, bandwidth usage goes down as data transfer reduces. For many businesses, this technology isn’t just improving speed but also cutting down expenses. 
  • Decongestion: Every day, we are producing 2.5 quintillion bytes of data. While the internet has made standard data transfer pretty quick, there’s always a risk of network congestion. We have seen this in the past with outages severely congesting working networks and slowing down data transfer speeds. Thanks to edge computing, such congestion can be avoided. 

What Is an Edge Device (With Examples)?

Edge devices enable most edge computing applications. 

An edge device is essentially the device at the entry point of a network that allows access to that network. The most common example of an edge device is a router we use to connect to the internet in our homes and offices. Even the routers for public Wifi available in malls and hospitals are edge devices. However, many different edge devices are becoming increasingly sophisticated, like an industrial cellular router or an industrial LTE router connecting consumers to the mobile data network. Similarly, a firewall can also be an edge device as it authorizes access to the network. 

More importantly, edges devices are also instrumental for IoT. There are specialized edge devices that are common for IoT, artificial intelligence, and even robotics. These devices have different functions and features. For instance, for machine-to-machine communication, modules can run on cellular networks, Bluetooth, and Wifi. 

A whole machine or device can also be an edge device, sending, receiving, and processing data. For instance, a self-driving vehicle or a smart 3D printer can also serve as edge devices in a network. 

Companies worldwide like Novotech produce these edge devices that enable further development in edge computing. The edge devices are the hardware that provides innovators with software and features they need for each application. 

Edge Computing vs. the Cloud 

It’s easier to confuse edge computing with cloud computing because both focus on decentralization, to some extent. However, edge computing differs from cloud computing in that it’s just an extension of the cloud. 

In a traditional cloud network, the data is collected from all the devices and transferred to a central cloud server, where it’s stored and processed. With edge computing, the data is collected and processed by a local device, reducing the amount of data that travels back and forth from the cloud. 

The data is analyzed at the edge device, and normally only crucial and meaningful data travels to the cloud. This is the most fundamental difference between edge computing and cloud computing. In more technical terms, workload runs throughout the cloud in cloud computing. In edge computing, workload runs between the edge devices of the network. 

Will 5G Make Edge Computing Obsolete? 

The 5G network is poised to reach 40% of the world by 2024. 5G, along with edge computing,  how data is processed, allowing near real-time data processing. 

5G network can deliver speeds 20 times that of LTE, but it may need edge computing to be truly impactful. With 5G offering lightning-fast speeds, where does that leave edge computing? Will we even need it when the latency is extremely low? 

Experts believe edge computing can actually help 5G by leveraging faster computation and lower power at the edge. This is because all the speed numbers we keep hearing are mainly between the end-point device and the signal tower. With edge computing enabling end-point computation, it can improve the 5G network. Enterprises using multi-access edge computing can easily experiment with 5G, getting the best of both technologies. 

Then there’s also the realistic question of 5G deployment globally, which faces many hurdles and delays. Therefore, it doesn’t look like 5G technology would completely eliminate the need for edge computing.   

Can Edge Computing Improve Sustainability? 

Did you know that data centers are responsible for 2% of the global CO2 emissions? Edge computing reduces the amount of data these data centers house and process, which reduces the power they use. Not all data may be important enough for data centers to store. This is where edge devices can come in handy as they process data at or near the consumer, eliminating the role of data centers for at least a small part of the process. 

With edge computing, businesses and consumers can both play their part in reducing their carbon footprint. Surprisingly, such practices can also result in revenue growth for businesses, as Capgemini’s research says. 

What Are Some Use Cases for Edge Computing? 

To better understand edge computing and mobile edge computing, here are the most relevant use cases:

Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous vehicles or self-driving cars rely on data and can use it to make decisions in a matter of milliseconds. This is only possible if they can do that right there with the devices fixed in the car. 

With cameras, sensors, and GPS antennas, such cars can collect, produce, and process data all by themselves without sending it to another server or machine. They can also communicate with other cars. 

Industrial Automation

With edge computing and Industrial IoT (IIoT), industrial computers can use sensors and cameras on the floor and communicate with machinery and equipment. By consolidating the workloads to a single, local system, factories can reduce undue complications usually posed by decentralized workloads. 

Predictive Maintenance

Consider this an extension of the industrial use case, as industries and facilities can better predict equipment maintenance with edge computing. Using monitoring devices that gather and analyze data to predict maintenance and repair schedules allow companies to be proactive and fix issues before they get bigger and more expensive. Predictive maintenance eliminates the need for condition-based monitoring. 

Fleet Management

Trucking companies are equipping smart edge devices in their fleet that doesn’t simply track the location but also collect important data about the vehicles and the drivers. Fleet companies can better manage the fleet and improve safety using cameras and sensors.

Computer Vision

Another important application of edge computing in an industrial setting is high-speed cameras and infrared sensors. The camera and sensors help analyze rather quickly if the product has defects. If it is defective, it does not end up on the assembly line. 

Remote Monitoring

For industries like the oil and gas industry, edge computing allows effective remote monitoring to track and monitor assets, ensuring they are running smoothly. This is all the more relevant for offshore and land sites in remote areas. This kind of automation has reduced downtime for equipment in the industry, making the process round the clock. 

Smart Agriculture

Edge computers are becoming increasingly common in the agriculture and food industries. Sensors deployed in the field can gather and process valuable information about the conditions of the crop and the weather. That allows farmers and companies to avoid mishaps and optimize their crops to produce better. 


Edge computing is a game-changer in technology for a variety of reasons. Whether it's the speed with which we send and receive data or the overall consumption of data and energy, this technology is improving how businesses operate and how consumers share data. 

While the propagation of the 5G network does raise a question about the viability of edge computing, for the time being, there's no stopping it as the world continues to embrace IoT.