Upgrading the backbone can do more for latency than 5G

Enrique Blanco of Telefonica is collapsing his transport network from 8 to 4 layers. Lee Hicks of Verizon is “Ripping out 200,000 pieces of equipment as part of Verizon One Fiber.” He is replacing them with one-tenth as many boxes. Cost and simplicity are the main goals, but latency is being dramatically improved as well.

I’ve recently discovered that the latency of the radios for the last 200 metres (the 5G NR) often is less important than the performance on the backbone. From the radio to the Internet typically takes 15 ms to 50 ms and more. 5G to the radio is now typically 10 ms, compared to 20 ms on LTE. That saves about 10 ms. 

A better backbone (or an Edge Cloud) can reduce latency by 10-30 ms. Today’s routers are much more powerful and much faster. Like most incumbent telcos, Verizon’s network was loaded with out of date equipment, some 20 years old. Most carriers are slowly replacing older gear. Verizon One Fiber is replacing almost everything.   Lee Hicks of Verizon is rebuilding that network with a goal of 5-15 ms.

(That number is mine. Neither Lee nor anyone else at Verizon has discussed a figure. I’m inferring it from the capabilities of the equipment.) That will generally save 10-30 ms, more than the improvement with 5G radios. More

Improvements welcome