Canadian operator Telus and MobiledgeX, the edge computing startup backed by Deutsche Telekom, today said they will trial a mobile edge network in Canada.
The carrier will pilot MobiledgeX Edge-Cloud R1.0, which aggregates processors and graphics processing units (GPUs) in virtualized cloudlets near the edge of Telus’ wireless and wired access networks.
At press time Telus hadn’t responded to questions about when the trials will begin and where they will be located. Geoff Hollingworth, chief marketing officer at MobiledgeX, said the companies are “working on that plan right now and will announce it shortly. Our intent is to execute a pilot launch this year in line with the Telus network plans.”
MobiledgeX first announced the platform in February when it launched its first public edge network at six DT sites in Germany. The companies plan to add another six locations in that country this year, and MobiledgeX CTO Sunay Tripathi said DT wants to have 500 locations in Germany by 2020.
The edge company is also “in active conversations with tier 1 operators across the major regions of the world,” and is working with operators directly as well as establishing a channel model with tier 1 suppliers, Hollingworth said.
Edge computing enables some emerging technologies like IoT and augmented reality (AR) to be delivered in 4G networks now, and it can help prepare operators for the distribution and scale that will be required when these services go mainstream in 5G.
As such, edge use cases remain MobiledgeX’s top focus, Hollingworth said. “We do not see this as a small shift but a fundamental change that will be scaled and industrialized by 5G, either for the growth of mobile operators through new business models powered by edge computing, or by others who use 5G for transport in a similar way as they do today,” he said. “This is why announcements like Telus’ are so important to us, since they allow us to jointly discover the potential market together versus having the future on powerpoint while others develop and discover the next generation in market experiences.”
Hollingworth points to retail as an example, and said 43% of Gen Z consumers say they would like to use new capabilities like self-checkout, interactive screens, and AR. Some leading retailers like Ikea with its Place app are already giving consumers some of these types of experiences and quantifying the results in real business value.
“All of these experiences are dependent on a new scale of data, quite often video and responsiveness that requires closer reliable presence of capability to the user,” he said. “Most of the experiences include AI at their heart, to better interpret in real time the flow of knowledge being delivered and the appropriate result in response.”
These and other next-generation apps that require high bandwidth and lower latency benefit from the distributed nature and scale that edge networks provide. But how to operationalize and manage these tens of thousands of edge sites remains open for debate.
“Operational lifecycle is the most important — you can slam an environment on a box, but then you have to manage and operate,” said Beth Cohen, SDN product strategist at Verizon, at last week’s Open Infrastructure Summit. These considerations are 99% of the edge “problem,” she added.