Perfect Edge Cloud Storm to Rain Opportunity

This global edge network includes more than a dozen other top-tier operators.

Telcos best positioned for edge

Mobile operators find themselves in an enviable position when it comes to edge, as they can help mitigate the shortcomings of all other edge locations. Let’s quickly recap the capabilities edge needs to deliver to meet next-generation computing needs:

  • Proximity to offload data streams, as needed
  • Complex bandwidth handling that won’t bring networks to a crawl
  • Ability to support communications between people or devices within close proximity to each other without requiring traffic to be sent to some faraway cloud location
  • Data sovereignty and ability to meet enhanced governance requirements when supporting video-powered use cases like facial recognition
  • Geospatial awareness and the ability to interpret local surroundings with simultaneous location and mapping

As I mentioned earlier, a perfect storm is brewing for telcos and edge. Enterprise demand combined with fast-paced mobile 5G investments and the ability to deliver on near-term market-ready use cases, all while being able to provide support at every viable edge location, creates a powerful front. In just the past few months, there have been concrete steps forward. 

In North America, via a partnership with MobiledgeX, TELUS recently became the first mobile operator in the region to unleash live edge computing access. The initiative will start by giving Canadian developers access to experiment with edge computing functionality, allowing them to build, experiment and test applications using next-generation, low-latency network services. Work is expected in areas that include augmented and virtual reality, smart cities, Industry 4.0, gaming and immersive entertainment, autonomous vehicles and more.

To start, live testing will be available in select major cities across Canada, including the TELUS Lab 5G at Zú, a Montreal-based incubator for start-ups innovating in the entertainment space. Additional live testing sites across Canada will be announced shortly as the program evolves. This global edge network includes more than a dozen other top-tier operators.

In addition, other news about innovation at the edge is already breaking early in 2020. Verizon also made headlines recently when it said it would work with AWS to offer 5G network edge computing with AWS Wavelength. The strategy extends AWS’s cloud computing reach out to the mobile edge to provide developers with the ability to deploy applications that require ultra-low latency. A pilot is underway in Chicago to demonstrate how AWS Wavelength customers can deploy latency-sensitive parts of an application to the edge of the network and then seamlessly connect back to the full range of cloud services running in AWS. Recently, AT&T has touted its work to integrate 5G with Microsoft cloud technology to enable next-generation solutions at the edge. 

We know from experience that developers will ultimately need access to a common interface that lets them easily deploy across regions. The edge ecosystem will be defined by a range of strategies that are best suited to the operator, region and target customers. We expect that a common interface will lay across all these strategies, rolling up infrastructure and resources to be tapped by the broader developer and device maker communities. 

Putting edge to work in 2020

While the revenues may have to wait (for now), what is clear is that 2020 will bring our first real look at all that edge can be. Even if telcos take different software and hardware approaches (and they likely will), they need only work together to ensure they are exposing a common layer to developers to bring the entire massive opportunity together. By this time next year, I predict we’ll have quite a clear picture of what that can be—and a clear sense of how 2020 brought a perfect storm of opportunity to telcos ready to push forward.


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