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As AT&T continues to lay the groundwork for its wider 5G deployments, the telecom has formed a partnership with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) to develop edge computing solutions.
The two companies will work together to create multi-access edge computing (MEC) systems that will help the telecom and its customers to sort and manage data produced from various connected systems and devices.
Here’s what this partnership means for the two companies:
- AT&T will get the support it needs to develop systems and solutions that enable new wireless use cases employing 5G networks without crippling those networks in the process. The carrier has been looking into how edge computing can improve network operations for years now. With HPE, it will develop new services and solutions that employ IoT, augmented reality (AR), and machine learning (ML), among other tools. The low latency of 5G networks means that data can flow from a device to the network edge — where MEC systems would likely be situated — almost instantly. AI and ML tools placed on the edge can then analyze the data and quickly determine whether it’s relevant and should be sent to the cloud. For example, these tools can review footage from a security camera and transmit only footage showing activity, while discarding the rest.
- The partnership will help HPE make good on its investment in edge computing services. The California-based IT company just announced a pivot to subscription-based enterprise plans as it seeks to buoy revenue, which fell 2% year-over-year (YoY) to $7.6 billion in Q1 2019 and 4% YoY to $7.2 billion in Q2 2019. A positive outcome with AT&T could give it a launching pad for further partnerships.
The bigger picture: 5G is set to expand the amount of data flowing over wireless networks, but much of that data doesn’t need to travel between data centers — telecoms need to use MEC to help dam that flow.
Edge computing solutions process data locally, so telecoms can offer companies the option to send only meaningful insights to the cloud, thereby reducing data loads on telecoms’ networks. In the current cloud model, enterprises effectively pay telecoms to clog up wireless networks and transmit much data for analysis that doesn’t need to be retained. An edge solution limits the likelihood that data transmitted to the cloud will eventually be rendered obsolete and deleted.
Telecoms across the space will need to work with technology vendors to get edge computing systems up and running to support their 5G networks.Many are already well on their way: The vast majority (84%) of respondents to a survey of global telecom decision-makers indicated that their companies are currently using or intend to use MEC systems to support 5G, per 451 Research. And between large tech players like HPE and Dell and startups like Akamai and FogHorn, there are many potential partners for network operators to turn to for a range of MEC needs.
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