AT&T customers explore use cases for edge computing
“Our entire edge strategy is based around what our customers actually need,” AT&T proclaimed in a recent blog post. The post was penned by Mo Katibeh, CMO of AT&T Business and champion of the company’s edge computing initiative. Katibeh told Light Reading recently that AT&T’s business customers have diverse needs, and that 5G edge compute is not a one-size-fits-all solution.
“Our customers are in fact the ones that are steering us on the use cases that they’re looking for that require edge computing capabilities,” Katibeh said. He said AT&T sees two varieties of 5G edge compute use cases: premises-based and network edge compute.
Premises-based is just what it sounds like: The cellular network connects to on-site servers running cloud software. AT&T calls this multi-access edge compute, or MEC. Katibeh said Chicago’s Rush University Hospital was one of AT&T’s first customers to use multi-access edge compute and 5G, a combination that Katibeh said can offer network latencies of less than 10 milliseconds. The technology can be used to enable remote patient care, and to leverage augmented reality and artificial intelligence for student training.
“Over time you will see us announce more hardware options that have been certified to work with our MEC solution,” he said, adding that physical integration into the mobile core is fundamental to multi-access edge computing.
“The second variant is what we call network edge compute,” Katibeh said. “Essentially, network edge compute allows businesses that have more distributed environments [to] use either the mobile network or the fiber network, along with a cloud instance that’s very close to their businesses, to be able to empower new experiences.” Network edge compute, which uses metro-based servers rather than premises-based servers, offers latencies of less than 20 milliseconds. One of AT&T’s first customers for this solution is Gamecloud, which uses Microsoft Azure and the AT&T network to run its games on servers around the country, thereby delivering low-latency experiences to gamers in multiple locations.
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