AT&T is building an edge computing test zone in Palo Alto, California, that will serve as a location for developers and other companies to test connected applications such as self-driving cars, augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR), and drones.
AT&T’s Foundry Innovation Centers in Silicon Valley and Atlanta will oversee the effort, which will be live in early 2018. Initially, the test center will be outfitted with a 4G LTE connection but will be upgraded to 5G once the 5G standard is finalized and equipment is available.
Edge computing, often referred to as multi-access edge computing (MEC), is becoming increasingly important as a way to reduce the distance that data has to travel to get processed, thereby reducing latency and boosting network performance. The more distance that data has to travel creates delay and also increases power consumption.
AT&T has said in the past that it was adding intelligence to its towers, central offices, and small cells that are at the “edge” of the cloud by outfitting them with high-end graphics processing chips and other general purpose computers.
In an interview with SDxCentral in July, Gordon Mansfield, VP of RAN and device design at AT&T, said that because new applications like AR/VR will require single-digit latencies, network engineers will need to enable more computing at the network edge. However, he added that not every single service has to flow through the network the same way. “We can put different edge capacity at different points of the network. In some cases, there will be extreme low latency,” he added.
AT&T is already deploying MEC-capable services to its enterprise customers through its FlexWare service. FlexWare is the name of the company’s virtual network function (VNF) management platform that uses AT&T’s Integrated Cloud (AIC) platform for service orchestration.
AT&T announced today that it has a three-year contract with security firm ASSA ABLOY to manage the company’s network. ASSA ABLOY will use AT&T’s global VPN and WAN acceleration, Internet, and remote access services at its 350 global locations. It will also use AT&T’s cloud web security services.