An inside look at Verizon’s first 5G mobile edge computing (MEC) customers
Verizon has been touting its ambitious 5G mobile edge computing (MEC) partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS) since it was first announced at the AWS Re:Invent conference in December.
Verizon is calling its MEC platform the 5G Edge and it is now available in five markets – Washington, D.C.; Boston; Atlanta; New York; and San Francisco. Developers and businesses can deploy their applications and use AWS Wavelength, which is AWS’ cloud computing platform that is optimized for the network edge, to embed compute and storage functionality for Verizon’s 5G Edge. The companies plan to expand the 5G Edge to ten markets by year-end.
But what exactly is Verizon’s 5G Edge? According to Thierry Sender, director of edge computing product strategy and management at Verizon, the 5G Edge means that Verizon and AWS have tightly integrated the network and the compute resources within those markets and can guarantee customers latency of between 25 to 50 milliseconds, thus improving performance. “What we have done, through a lot of software and architecture changes,” Sender said, “is to enable a vast amount of compute capabilities.”
For example, Sender said that any device with a 5G radio can turn into a real-time gaming device because the latency will be so low. On the industrial side, Sender said that, for example, manufacturing companies can have a real-time artificial intelligence interface that makes their industrial applications act in real-time. “These things were not possible before,” he said.
But it’s not just software that is doing the work. Sender said that AWS has deployed a data center at each 5G Edge location. “AWS had to restructure their architecture to embed that capability at the edge,” he said, adding that both Verizon and AWS had to make changes to their control plane architectures in their networks as well.
If a potential customer wants to make use of Verizon’s 5G Edge, that doesn’t mean they need to necessarily be located in one of the five cities listed above. Sender said that the “availability zone” for each city is very big. For example, the San Francisco 5G Edge extends into Sacramento, California, and the Boston 5G Edge extends to Providence, Rhode Island. Basically, the 5G Edge includes anywhere that Verizon can still guarantee that low latency delivery of 50 milliseconds or lower. In fact, Sender believes that by year-end, when Verizon is expected to have ten markets covered, the 5G Edge will be close to having nationwide coverage.
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