Making Sense of the Telco Cloud

In recent years the cloudification of communication networks, or “telco cloud” has become a byword for telecom modernisation. This Telecoms.com Intelligence Monthly Briefing aims to analyse what telcos’ transition to cloud means to the stakeholders in the telecom and cloud ecosystems. Before exploring the nooks and crannies of telco cloud, however, it is worthwhile first taking an elevated view of cloud native in general. On one hand, telco cloud is a subset of the overall cloud native landscape, on the other, telco cloud almost sounds an oxymoron. Telecom operator’s monolithic networks and cloud architecture are often seen as two different species, but such impressions are wrong.

(Here we are sharing the opening section of this Telecoms.com Intelligence special briefing to look into how telco cloud has changing both the industry landscape and operator strategies.

The full version of the report is available for free to download here.)

What cloud native is, and why we need it

“Cloud native” have been buzz words for a couple of years though often, like with many other buzz words, different people mean many different things when they use the same term. As the authors of a recently published Microsoft ebook quipped, ask ten colleagues to define cloud native, and there’s good chance you’ll get eight different answers. (Rob Vettor, Steve “ardalis” Smith: Architecting Cloud Native .NET Applications for Azure, preview edition, April 2020)

Here are a couple of “cloud native” definitions that more or less agree with each other, though with different stresses.

The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), an industry organisation with over 500 member organisations from different sectors of the industry, defines cloud native as “computing (that) uses an open source software stack to deploy applications as microservices, packaging each part into its own container, and dynamically orchestrating those containers to optimize resource utilization.”

Gabriel Brown, an analyst from Heavy Reading, has a largely similar definition for cloud native, though he puts it more succinctly. For him, cloud native means “containerized micro-services deployed on bare metal and managed by Kubernetes”, the de facto standard of container management.

Although cloud native has a strong inclination towards containers, or containerised services, it is not just about containers. An important element of cloud native computing is in its deployment mode using DevOps. This is duly stressed by Omdia, a research firm, which prescribes cloud native as “the first foundation is to use agile methodologies in development, building on this with DevOps adoption across IT and, ideally, in the organization as well, and using microservices software architecture, with deployment on the cloud (wherever it is, on-premises or public).”

Some would argue the continuous nature of DevOps is as important to cloud native as the infrastructure and containerised services. Red Hat, an IBM subsidiary and one of the leading cloud native vendors and champions for DevOps practices, sees cloud native in a number of common themes including “heavily virtualized, software-defined, highly resilient infrastructure, allowing telcos to add services more quickly and centrally manage their resources.”

These themes are aligned with the understanding of cloud native by Telecoms.com Intelligence, and this report will discuss cloud native and telco cloud along this line. (A full Q&A with Azhar Sayeed, Chief Architect, Service Provider at Red Hat can be found at the end of this report).

The main benefits of cloud native computing are speed, agility, and scalability. As CNCF spells it out, “cloud native technologies empower organizations to build and run scalable applications in modern, dynamic environments such as public, private, and hybrid clouds. Containers, service meshes, microservices, immutable infrastructure, and declarative APIs exemplify this approach. These techniques enable loosely coupled systems that are resilient, manageable, and observable. Combined with robust automation, they allow engineers to make high-impact changes frequently and predictably with minimal toil.”

To adapt such thinking to the telecom industry, the gains from migrating to cloud native are primarily a reflection of, and driven by, the increasing convergence between network and IT domains. The first candidate domain that cloud technology can vastly improve on, and to a certain degree replace the heavy infrastructure, is the support for the telcos’ own IT systems, including the network facing Operational Support Systems and customer facing Business Support System (OSS and BSS).

But IT cloud alone is far from what telcos can benefit from the migration to cloud native. The rest of this report will discuss how telcos can and do embark on the journey to cloud native, as a means to deliver true business benefits through improved speed, agility, and scalability to their own networks and their customers.

The rest of the report include these sections:

  • The many stratifications of telco cloud
  • Clouds gathering on telcos
  • What we can expect to see on the telco cloud skyline
  • Telco cloud openness leads to agility and savings — Q&A with Azhar Sayeed, Chief Architect, Service Provider, Red Hat
  • Additional Resources

The full version of the report is available for free to download here.

MobiledgeX launches enterprise edge computing collective Seamster

Edge computing specialist MobiledgeX has created an organization dedicated to enterprise use case exploration and adoption with some big names already on board.

“Our purpose is to provide a clear, comprehensive understanding of the edge market and to support industry-wide adoption of edge-enabled technologies and innovations,” says the Seamster website. To help it do that, it already has Accedian, Dell EMC, MobiledgeX, Stratacache, Topio Networks, VMware, and Worldwide Technology mucking in to the collective effort.

“When you start with the critical question about who the edge is for, you begin to see this massive opportunity from a very different perspective,” said MobiledgeX CEO Jason Hoffman. “Seamster is bringing together an eclectic array of players to expedite the information, support and resources needed to help enterprises leverage 5G and edge computing to finally solve problems in their digital transformation efforts. We invite all companies interested in pursuing this common goal to join Seamster.”

For all this talk of 5G the founding fathers are thinly represented by the telecoms community. Accedian is all about network assurance but the Dell ecosystem is very much from the enterprise perspective and the networks Topio creates are the human kind. Edge computing is where the IT and telecoms worlds collide and it would be good to see a few members of the latter join the part before long.

Having said that MobiledgeX itself was created by Deutsche Telekom back in 2018, so maybe the whole point of it is to get more enterprise companies involved. Either way it seems like a good idea to help the IT and telecoms sectors understand each other better. If this sort of thing takes off it may remove any doubt that it’s only by working together will the broader ICT world make the most of the edge opportunity.

Consensus on 6G is gradually forming

Participants at the virtual 6G Wireless Summit shared their thinking on what 6G can do and what research is needed to get the underlying technologies in place.

The 6G Wireless Summit 2020 would have kicked off in Finnish Lapland this morning. Instead, the organisers have moved it online. Except for the lack of face-to-face conversations, the virtual event is a competent substitute. This may not be the first time that speakers needed to record their presentations, considering companies had been already pulling out other events over the recent weeks. By the time the Summit was scheduled to start, most of the keynote speeches and presentations at the technical streams had been made available online.

A year ago, when Team Finland introduced its 6G Flagship programme (then called 6Genesis) at Mobile World Congress 2019, what 6G was about was almost a blank slate. Twelve months and 800 peer-reviewed papers later, the direction of 6G is much clearer and the vision is increasingly shared by industry experts and their academic partners.

Having watched six of the seven keynotes (Huawei’s speech has yet to be made available by the time of writing), we can see a clear convergence between the speakers’ views on both what 6G is expected to do and where research investment should be made to make those expectations come true.

Even their 6G vision taglines could look rather similar. For example, Harish Viswanathan, Head of Radio Systems Research Group at Nokia Bell Labs, believed 6G will “unify the experience across physical, digital and biological worlds”, while Dr. Fang Min, Director of 6G Research & Collaboration in the ZTE’s Wireless Division, saw 6G “integrating the physical and digital world”.

The leading use cases expected for 6G are shared by most speakers. For instance, they all foresaw vastly increased interaction between human and intelligent machine. Both ZTE’s Dr. Fang and Ericsson’s Dr. Mikael Prytz, Head of Research Area Networks, called it “Internet of Senses”. This includes both enhanced brain-computer interaction, and, in the words of Nokia Bell Lab’s Viswanathan, in-body monitoring.

Another key use case referred to by the speakers is what Ericsson’s Prytz called Connected Intelligence, or what ZTE’s Fang called Internet of AI, meaning AI interacting with each other, intelligent machines serving other intelligent machines. Such a scenario will have strong implications on network designs which are now limited by human senses.

With 6G poised to operate on much higher frequency than 5G (for example the FCC granted >95GHz for experimental use), the shorter wavelengths will allow for higher localisation accuracy, possibly down to centimetre level positioning. One outcome of such precision will be full digital representations of the physical world, or “digital twins”, by also fusing data from other sources including network data. Network operators will also be able to generate interconnected and collaborative digital twins, and digital representation of larger objects and their environment. Nokia Bell Lab demonstrated a digital twin of a New Jersey street with drone-captured high-resolution data for wireless network optimisation, for example accurate signal propagation prediction.

These use cases need to be supported by new, advanced underlying technologies that will provide guidelines for research in the discipline in the coming years. New spectrum technologies are highlighted by all speakers as such a domain. This includes both radio technology on the so-called D-Band (140-180GHz) and above, and progress in material sciences. Bell Lab’s Viswanathan pointed out that transceiver design for such radio frequencies will be more sophisticated, and may need to use glass interposers instead of silicon. ZTE also sees “Beyond Silicon” as one of the leading 6G challenge.

Network architecture is another key technology requirement that needs to advance in the run-up to 6G. One such advancement is what Nokia Bell Lab’s Viswanathan sees in the trend of RAN-Core convergence. This is primarily driven by the need to move the core closer to RAN for low latency service as well as to make the RAN more centralised towards the cloud. A related trend highlighted by Viswanathan is the demand for hyper specialised slicing. He believes that network slicing should move from resource reservation in 5G to providing separate software stacks and functions by using different micro-services.

Both ZTE’s Fang and InterDigital’s Alain Abdel-Majid Mourad, Director Engineering R&D, stressed the importance and demand for innovation to meet 6G’s new KPIs. Network security in 6G is also highlighted. While Nokia Bell Lab’s Viswanathan saw in 6G a “sixth sense”, for example using real-time analytics of sensor data by AI, Ericsson’s Prytz believed that the holistic solution of hardware-based security, trusted computing, and secured enclave will form the base of the future computing networks.

When it comes to the timing, the speakers had a consensus that it would be around 2030 when 6G will start commercialisation. ZTE believed 3GPP will start more concrete 6G specification work in R22, which the company expects to see in 2029. See the chart below for ZTE’s detailed prediction for the timeline from 5G to Beyond 5G (B5G) and 6G.

In general, the speakers at the Summit look to have much more in common with their views on what they expect 6G to look like than a year ago, as well as sharing an understanding on what key research areas will be in the years to come. While there is no guarantee these predictions will turn out to be correct, Nokia Bell Lab’s Viswanathan put it best when he said, “We have 10 years to be proved wrong, and now can have fun predicting the future.”

Source: 6G Wireless Summit 2020, ZTE Keynote

Cisco and Microsoft partner on cloud IoT stuff

US tech giants Cisco and Microsoft are combining their cloud IoT offerings, with a focus on the industrial sector.

The move was announced in a Microsoft blog, which somehow resisted the urge to use the term ‘end-to-end’ a lot. The thinking is that Microsoft’s Azure IoT platform is great at the datacenter end of things and Cisco is pretty hot at the edge. Industries increasingly want a bit of both from their IoT so this partnership has been created to provide that.

Using software-based intelligence pre-loaded onto Cisco IoT network devices, telemetry data pipelines from industry-standard protocols like OPC-Unified Architecture (OPC-UA) and Modbus can be easily established using a friendly UI directly into Azure IoT Hub,” explains the blog,

“Additional telemetry processing is also supported by Cisco through local scripts developed in Microsoft Visual Studio, where filtered data can also be uploaded directly into Azure IoT Hub. This collaboration provides customers with a fully integrated solution that will give access to powerful design tools, global connectivity, advance analytics, and cognitive services for analyzing IoT data.”

“This partnership between Cisco and Azure IoT will significantly simplify customer deployments,” said Vikas Butaney, Cisco IoT VP of Product Management. “Customers can now securely connect their assets, and simply ingest and send IoT data to the cloud. Our IoT Gateways will now be pre-integrated to take advantage of the latest in cloud technology from Azure.”

Microsoft might want to keep a close eye on this partnership as Cisco’s recent track record on such things isn’t great. A few years ago a partnership with Ericsson was announced to much fanfare, but after producing approximately nothing it has been allowed to wither on the vine and is presumably still a source of private embarrassment to both. Having said that, expect to see a lot more IoT partnerships as the clamour for end-to-end solutions intensifies.

Four operators take the lead on GSMA edge initiative

Last week, the GSMA announced an initiative to standardise the edge, with Telefónica, KT, China Unicom and Telstra the first to step up to lead the way.

In signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), the four telcos the aim will be to test Edge Computing functionality and interconnection capability, as well as verifying the ease and simplicity of a MEC platform for application developers to leverage.

“Together with these Tier 1 operators, we are making available to the industry the means to build and deliver a global telco-based Edge Cloud service, providing the necessary mechanisms that complement current MEC standards to enable the federation of operator’s edge computing platforms,” said Juan Carlos García, SVP Technology and Ecosystem at Telefónica.

“With this, telcos will be able to deliver a universal Edge Computing service that will facilitate application developers and Enterprises the deployment of their services globally through a simple and single interface.”

The aim of the GSMA initiative is to standardise platforms for edge computing, ultimately driving towards interoperability in the telco community. Although standards might not be the most exciting part of the industry, they are critical to ensure smooth progress and also realising the telco rank in the pecking order.

The collaboration will take place over four phases:

  • Phase One: development of basic Edge Computing capabilities such as interconnection of MEC platforms, smart edge discovery and smart resource allocation
  • Phase Two: enabling mobility features
  • Phase Three: service availability to roamers, to enable the use of edge when customers moves from their home network and visit a different network
  • Phase Four: federation capabilities

Ultimately the aim is to create global consistency, a telco platform without the need to develop custom integrations for each and every market. Such interoperability and consistency is critical to ensure the effective development of a sustainable edge ecosystem. It also provides confidence to customers to deploy applications in any data centre, with policies designed for privacy, security and enhanced performance.

“Through our partnership with Telefonica, Telstra and China Unicom, all from different regions across the world, we set out to explore the most effective way to build a globally federated edge platform and tap into the full potential of telco-based Edge Computing,” said Jongsik Lee, SVP & Head of Infra R&D at KT.

“Leveraging MEC standards and key technologies, we aim to provide a reference model the industry can build on and developers and enterprises can take advantage of.”

Vodafone Germany and Lufthansa go private for 5G

Vodafone Germany and Lufthansa have launched what they claim is a private 5G network based on standalone technology in an 8,500 square meter aircraft hangar in Hamburg.

While the deployment of a 5G private network is an interesting development, the fact that Vodafone does not own the spectrum which is being used to power the connectivity adds another twist.

In what could turn out to be somewhat of a disruptive move, the German telecoms regulator has been allocating hyper-localised spectrum licenses in the 3.7-3.8 GHz to enterprise and public sector organisations. For the first time, a company might be able to cut the telco out of the loop to satisfy its connectivity needs.

It could have been viewed as a headache, though Vodafone Germany does seem to be embracing the potentially disastrous scenario.

“The German economy needs 5G. We can do 5G,” said Vodafone Germany CEO Hannes Ametsreiter. “As a 5G partner, we want to help our industry to maintain an international top position in the future. Those who focus on new technologies today will be at the forefront tomorrow.

“We support our partners in bringing 5G into everyday industrial life as early as possible. To the factories. In the business parks. And even in airplane hangars. With individual campus networks that we tailor perfectly to the needs of our partners.”

Realistically, this is could be a niche, but profitable market for the telcos. Private networks could span the breadth of a campus or could be nothing more than a few floors on a building, but the customisation and security benefits would be attractive to some. That said, building and operating a network is an expensive business, this is not something which would be applicable to many customers.

At Lufthansa, the hanger is large enough to house four airplanes and the first usecases have been to make use of virtual and augmented reality visualise 3D design data of the planned cabin equipment on tablets and other end devices in empty aircraft fuselages. This is just the first usecase, though there will certainly be more.

Lufthansa has highlighted it is now able to shift the upload and download requirements of the network, CAD data transfer is incredibly demanding on a network, while all of the data is processed within the hanger itself. These sorts of benefits will appeal to some customers.

Germany is one country where the idea of private networks might catch on, thanks to its engineering and manufacturing heritage, though this is likely to be a niche usecase for telcos elsewhere. The threat which has emerged is cutting the telco out of the loop. Equipment can be purchased directly from the manufacturers, integrators and other consultants can be brought in to build and manage the network, while these enterprise organisations already own the spectrum for the area.

Vodafone Germany is proving it can be adaptable as a partner. It is differentiating itself to offer new services to enterprise customers. This might not be a trend which redefines the connectivity industry, but it is an example of how outside parties could come in and steal revenues promised to the telcos. Vodafone Germany was not necessarily needed in this experiment, but collecting managed services revenues is better than nothing.

Challenges & Key Issues of Constructing ‘MEC-Ready’ 5G Bearer Networks for Carriers

5G applications are widely used across various industries. A newly developed mode “5G+edge computing+AI” enables carriers to help vertical industries realize digital and intelligent transformation. This brings four new challenges for operators’ bearer networks. To build an MEC-ready 5G bearer network, carriers need to fix six key issues.

MEC Is Key in the 5G Age to Digitally Transform Thousands of Industries

Application localization, where data is not transmitted out of the campus, high-bandwidth content distribution, and low-latency computing localization all boost the migration of service contents, applications, and computing to the edge, propelling the development of multi-access edge computing (MEC) and moving the core network of 5G downwards.

Figure 1-1: Migrating services to the edge advances MEC development and moves the 5G core network downwards

The 5G core network uses a flexible architecture where the user plane function (UPF) and session management function (SMF) are separate. This way, UPFs can be utilized as needed. One SMF can manage multiple UPFs simultaneously while maintaining the high performance of the 5G core network. 5G brings a number of new advantages to MEC, including:

  • The core network’s UPF is moved downward to the enterprise campus, ensuring that key service data does not leave the campus and providing a low-latency bearer solution. Carriers can configure a UPF independently for each enterprise, customizing wireless services for enterprise users.
  • Carriers can provide 5G communication service capabilities such as positioning and wireless communication capabilities that are open and programmable, and can be utilized by enterprise users and integrated into enterprises’ service systems. Therefore, enterprises can create their own 5G innovative applications.
  • The 5G MEC system that is moved downwards is directly interconnected with the enterprise network, enabling applications distributed on the two network systems to be integrated and streamlined in real time, and facilitating the development of customized innovative applications.

Four Challenges Facing Carriers’ 5G MEC Bearer Network

Traditional 4G bearer networks mainly carry north-south traffic. Numerous carriers adopt the Layer 2+Layer 3 mode, which is no longer suitable for transmitting 5G MEC traffic locally. 5G MEC brings four new challenges to carriers’ bearer networks:

Figure 1-2: New challenges for carriers in deploying their 5G MEC bearer networks

  1. MEC deployed locally in enterprise campuses is a brand new application scenario. Vital enterprise service data must not be transmitted out of the campus, which poses new challenges to the carrier’s access network.
  2. The UPF of the MEC is moved downwards. Consequently, UPF’s interfaces such as N4, N6, N9, and 5GC OAM interfaces on the 5G core network are also moved downwards, and the L3VPNs on the IP backbone network for 4G core networks are moved down to the UPF’s access point. The new challenges have arisen from the large-scale deployment of 5G MEC deployment.
  3. The UPF of the MEC needs to communicate with its control plane (SMF) and the management & control system of the 5G core network in the central cloud, with the high-performance communication requirements of the telco cloud. MEC applications may be a part of cloud computing in a data center (DC) and are deployed at the edge. They need to interconnect and collaborate with this cloud computing applications. This poses a new challenge to edge-cloud synergy on carriers’ bearer networks.
  4. MEC supports integrated access on fixed and mobile networks and provides a seamless fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) service. The bearer network needs to provide MEC with connections across the mobile and fixed bearer networks, to provide the interworking of services between the MEC and central cloud, as well as between MECs. This poses new challenges in the network architecture, especially to the carriers who have both the mobile bearer and fixed bearer metropolitan area networks (MANs).

Six Key Issues of Carriers’ 5G MEC Network Architecture Model and Network Construction

Figure 1-3: Carrier bearer network architecture model from MEC’s viewpoint

The bearer network architectures of different carriers are varied. The following sections introduce a bearer network architecture model from MEC’s viewpoint in Figure 1-3.The aforementioned 5G MEC network communication model requires carriers to fix the following six key issues when constructing MEC-ready bearer networks:

  1. The shortest MEC access network: Carriers need to provide the shortest path for the service flows of N3 interfaces from the gNB to MEC UPFs. In the onsite MEC mode, N3 interface service flows need to be forwarded to MEC through mobile bearer routers in the campus directly. In addition to ensuring low latency and saving bandwidth on the carriers’ network, this also ensures that enterprise’s key service data does not leave the campus area, as shown in Figure 4. This requires the MEC access router to forward data packets through the shortest path. To do this, the MEC access router is required to provide the necessary routing capability (Layer 3 forwarding to edge).

Figure 1-4: MEC needs a low-latency access network without a detour

  1. Low-latency slicing: To meet the requirements of MEC applications for low latency, high security, and high reliability, carriers’ bearer networks need to provide low-latency slicing network services for enterprise users. The MEC sliced network includes the gNBs, the mobile bearer network (between the gNBs and MEC), and UPF. That is, all the network elements (NEs) that service flows from enterprises pass through to reach MEC. The fewer the NEs that the packet passes through, the simpler the slicing and the shorter the transmission latency are.
  2. Multi-point communication from MEC: Service flows among the MEC and the 5G core network (N4 and OAM interfaces), MEP management platform, the other MECs are in multipoint-to-multipoint communication mode and need to be supported by L3VPN. The MEC bearer network needs to provide L3VPN capabilities on the entire network, including the access network; that is, L3 VPN to the network edge. In addition, the L3VPN needs to span multiple network segments such as the MAN and backbone network. The MEC bearer network has increased in complexity compared with the 4G bearer network in terms of the number of NEs, as a large number of UPFs have moved downwards, and the network coverage, which covers from the access network to the backbone network. Therefore, a flexible and powerful L3VPN is required to support multi-point communication, as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 1-5: Management and control service interfaces across multiple networks

  1. Communication capabilities integrated in the routers of the MEC system: Small- and micro-MECs are conventional in 5G MEC. Due to the cost and communication requirements, the MEC typically uses a one-layer integrated network model (as shown in Figure 6), while a data center often uses a complex multi-layer network architecture. The routers of MEC need to provide all the required communication functions, such as interworking between the devices in MEC, reliable Layer 2 & Layer 3 connections between VMs, interworking and reliable communication with an external IP network (IP RAN), and edge-cloud synergy. UPF as Network Function Virtualization (NFV) can run on multiple VMs, to improve performance and reliability. The MEC routers need to provide equal-cost multi-path routing (ECMP) for 16-path load balancing currently for high-performance UPF.

Figure 1-6: MEC network model

  1. Edge-cloud synergy: MEC UPF used as the data plane of 5GC is moved to the edge, and applications function as real-time processing units of cloud services and are moved to the MEC. All these require the carrier’s bearer network to provide reliable cloud-edge communication capabilities and support edge-cloud synergy in automatic deployment and operations and maintenance (O&M). For details about UPFs’ edge-cloud synergy, refer to the telco cloud bearer solution.
  2. Secure interworking between two networks: A carrier’s MEC network needs to interwork with an enterprise network to enable the enterprise to integrate 5G communication capabilities and MEC applications into enterprise service systems. Currently, MEC routers are used to communicate with enterprise networks. As network security is a major concern for both enterprise networks and carrier networks alike, a firewall-based network security solution is required to ensure high security.

Conclusion

5G mobile communications systems have made many improvements in supporting vertical industries, such as realizing low-latency wireless communication, a flexible core network architecture, and super uplink. These new features of 5G are what sets it apart from 4G. MEC is a new model for carriers to help vertical industries become digital and intelligent. It is also the beginning of widespread distribution of intelligence on the network. In the future fully connected intelligent world, edge computing-based intelligence will become prominent on the network. Without considering the MEC’s network requirements for vertical industries, the 4G bearer network is constructed for the typical mobile phone users, whose traffic model is in the north-south direction with centralized model of the 4G core network. Therefore, 5G MEC bearer network construction is so much more than a simple bandwidth upgrade of the 4G network.

 

About the Author:

Dr. Song Jun: Senior Solution Architect of Huawei Datacom Product Line, Co-Chair of the ECNI (Edge Computing network Infrastructure) Work Group of the Edge Computing Consortium. Since 1991, he has been engaged in research on data communications technology. He has worked on network planning in a tier-one multinational carrier in the United States and was a member of the expert working group of Chinese Next Generation Internet project. (song.jun@huawei.com).

A bunch of operators get together to push 5G and MEC interoperability

América Móvil, KT Corp., Rogers, Telstra, Verizon and Vodafone have formed a new gang called the 5G Future Forum.

The stated aim of the gang is to ‘accelerate the delivery of 5G and mobile-edge computing-enabled solutions around the world.’ It apparently thinks that there are issues around the interoperability of 5G specifications that need sorting out. This doesn’t seem to refer to the 5G standard itself, but rather 5G-enabled solutions like autonomous vehicles, smart factories and so on.

“This forum of global leaders in 5G marks an important step in ensuring edge computing works seamlessly for our customers,” said Vinod Kumar, CEO of Vodafone Business. “These new specifications will allow us to offer services that work consistently across the globe and support devices moving between countries. 5G opens up a wealth of opportunities for new solutions and business models and we’re excited to play a role in bringing them to life.”

“5G is a key enabler of the next global industrial revolution, where technology will transform how we live and work. It’s critical that technology partners around the world unite to create the most seamless global experience for our customers,” said Hans Vestberg, CEO of Verizon. “We are proud to join with our fellow 5G leaders to unlock the full potential of applications and solutions that will transform with 5G’s fast speeds, high reliability, improved security and single-digit latency.”

All the other founding members got a canned quote too but you get the gist. Other than a press release there doesn’t seem to be much else to the forum yes, not even a website. Presumably other operators will be brought into the fold in due course, but the absence of any telecoms or technology specification organisations looks like a potential issue.

AWS helps Verizon, Vodafone, KDDI, and SK Telecom with their edge computing

Amazon Web Services has launched AWS Wavelength, which is designed to bring operators and app developers together at the edge of the network.

As the biggest public cloud provider it was only a matter of time before AWS made its edge move and this seems to be a big part of it. A major feature of 5G is low-latency communication, which dramatically reduces the lag between sending and receiving signals. However physical distance still introduces lag, which is where mobile edge computing comes in, but bringing services closer to the end user.

Part of the point of AWS Wavelength is so make it easier for developers to make apps that can exist on the edge of mobile networks, and thus make full use of the low-latency capabilities of 5G. It seems to have got off to a flying start, with Verizon, Vodafone, KDDI, and SK Telecom all having signed up on launch day.

“With Wavelength, we bring 5G and cloud together to give our customers the powerful new capability to run cloud services consistently within a few milliseconds of mobile end-users,” said Matt Garman, VP of Compute Services at AWS. “This is a game changer for developers that is going to unlock a whole new generation of applications and services. We are really excited to see our customers innovate with these unique new capabilities that they did not have access to before.”

“We are first in the world to launch Mobile Edge Compute — deeply integrating Verizon’s 5G Edge platform with Wavelength to allow developers to build new categories of applications and network cloud experiences built in ways we can’t even imagine yet,” said Hans Vestberg, CEO of Verizon. “Bringing together the full capabilities of Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband and AWS, the world’s leading cloud with the broadest and deepest services portfolio, we unlock the full potential of our 5G services for customers to create applications and solutions with the fastest speeds, improved security, and ultra-low latency.”

“With Europe’s largest 5G network across 58 cities and as a global leader in the Internet of Things with over 90 million connections, Vodafone is pleased to be the first telco to introduce AWS Wavelength in Europe,” said Vinod Kumar, CEO of Vodafone Business. “Faster speeds and lower latencies have the potential to revolutionize how our customers do business, and they can rely on Vodafone’s existing capabilities and security layers within our own network.”

“Having the power of the AWS cloud processing and storage services available at the edge of the KDDI 5G network enables us to accelerate IoT innovation for applications like high-definition VR video streaming, visual positioning service, smart factories, autonomous vehicles, and more,” said Makoto Takahashi, President of KDDI. “AWS Wavelength provides Japanese businesses and consumers immediate access to these services over the KDDI 5G network.”

“By combining the strengths of SK Telecom’s 5G network and AWS cloud, we are set to bring innovative changes to all individuals, businesses and industries,” said Ryu Young-sang, Head of the MNO Business at SK Telecom. “This collaboration enables exciting use cases like game streaming, headless robotics, Ultra High Definition interactive media, autonomous driving, and smart factories.”

Developments like this indicate the edge is rapidly becoming a mainstream commercial consideration as the telecoms and IT worlds try to work out whether 5G is worth the hassle. Verizon already has games developer Bethesda and the NFL on board to try out cool new low-latency use-cases and rival AT&T has already announced a similar initiative in partnership with Microsoft. Now let’s see if anyone makes any extra money out of it.