Sprint: Quietly Advancing IoT

Ivo Rook writes, “178 customers have signed Curiosity IoT contracts, our order book has reached a billion dollars and more than 10 million connections will go to deployment. Our customers are telling us one thing: they want more and they want it across the world…. so here we come to Europe. We are proud to partner with some of the most reputed and innovative European operators. Telia and Swisscom will enable us to deploy Curiosity in their markets and likewise we allow them to serve their customers in the USA. Who says global Telcom is complex? Global IoT with local profiles, it can be done. It should be done, and we are doing it!”

T-Mobile has wisely held on to many excellent Sprint employees, including Rook and CTO John Saw. Sprint’s network was the worst in the U.S. because the company wasn’t investing. The engineering team did a remarkable job with few resources. Saw’s 5G mid-band network was the most capable 5G network in the U.S. and is the heart of what T-Mobile is expanding.

Telco IoT has been lots of talk and remarkably little action. Giant NTT DOCOMO actually ended its NB-IoT effort for lack of customers. Everything’s being connected, even our tree lights. (“Alexa, turn on tree lights.) But unless it needs remote connections, the logical way to connect is local Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

The only exception to the telco failure so far is China Mobile, which is approaching a billion IoT nodes. That’s something like 40 times more than anyone else.

Read moreSprint: Quietly Advancing IoT

Edge Questions

Most current analysis on Edge looks at promises and possibilities. I have data but no firm answers on key decisions. In particular:

Will the Edge naturally be inside the enterprise or inside the telco network or …?

Partial answer: Yes, it will be everywhere. But how will it divide?

Will the Edge on the telcos side be dominated by the carriers or the cloud giants, which now include Alibaba & Huawei?

Telcos and others are discovering that distributed clouds are hard. The webscale outfits employ thousands of engineers. Synchronization across hundreds of points in realtime is a challenge.

Who will buy?

One approach: what latency does a given app require? VR needs to be under 20 milliseconds, preferably closer to 10 ms. Most 5G networks are built to 30 ms, so they can’t support VR. Connected cars usually do fine at 50-100 ms, so don’t need 5G. Only when the server is driving the “autonomous” car are sub-10 ms required. The car companies aren‘t planning for that.

Read moreEdge Questions

Packet Bare Metal Bought by Equinix Data Centers

Zac Smith of Packet recently introduced me to an entire market I hadn’t realized existed: the massive “private clouds” being built by company after company. I had assumed most cloud needs would be well served by the giants, Amazon, Google, … They have the scale to keep prices low and tens of thousands of engineers ensuring their technology is better than almost everyone else.

Packet is doing very well and has strong products and a growing customer base. Equinix, a $50 billion company, presumably paid a generous price. Equinix’s P/E ratio of ~100 requires rapid and profitable growth. Packet can deliver that, initially by serving Equinix’s existing customer base.

Packet can deploy private networks for Equinix clients in weeks across a dozen data centers worldwide. Perhaps more interesting is Packet’s ability to extend Equinix from the data center to inside carrier networks, towers, and ultimately customer sites. All of that is part of today’s Edge design, also called a hybrid cloud. Packet is already there.

Zac is selling “bare metal servers” in large numbers to companies that had particular needs or security concerns the big outfits couldn’t meet. Call Packet, and in days or weeks you can have 100’s of Linux servers installed almost anywhere in the developed world, ready to go and well configured with software.

Read morePacket Bare Metal Bought by Equinix Data Centers

Rakuten: Build Edge to Cut Network Costs

Tariq Amin is building what may be the most advanced network in the world for Rakuten, Japan’s new #4 carrier. Pioneers get arrows in the back and he is months behind schedule, but everyone is watching for the lessons he’s learned. Amin is very happy with the early results of what will be an Edge … Read moreRakuten: Build Edge to Cut Network Costs

Hoffman: Minimum Edge $3M-10

Servers inside the telco network are going to be important. Korea Telecom has announced 8 regional hubs. I believe Deutsche Telekom offers 13 hubs initially. They are beginning to provide revenue, allow making deals, and let your people build the necessary system and interfaces.

Jason Hoffman is CEO of MobiledgeX, a California based subsidiary of DT. He writes, “A powerful ‘rack’ tends to run about $250,000 and you can do 1-3 per site at a minimum. So generally a basic edge ‘experiment’ is probably around $3.5-6M in hardware and software.”

Distributed clouds are a challenge to manage. The synchronisation can be hard. You’ll need to resolve innumerable problems. Your people need training. Time to get started.

Read moreHoffman: Minimum Edge $3M-10

100,000 Edge servers for India’s Jio

Mukesh Ambani is promising to add 100,000 servers to Reliance Jio, the largest announced Edge Network in the world. Jio’s 340M 4G subscribers are more than the entire US population and are changing the Internet. Next: 50 million fibre to the home priced from US$10. He is building a remarkable video offering that will take … Read more100,000 Edge servers for India’s Jio

Jeff Storey: 5 ms to Edge on Level 3 fiber

CEO Storey of CenturyLink can reach 95% of 2,000 sites of a large customer in 5 ms over fiber. That’s much faster than 5G wireless, which averages 30 ms or ~15 ms with an Edge Network. Part of the 5G claimed business case is that the 5G latency is needed for Edge servers. But Century/Level … Read moreJeff Storey: 5 ms to Edge on Level 3 fiber

Crucial question: Where goes Edge. 5 ms, 15 ms, 30 ms,50 ms, further

5G network latency delays often are doubled if the telco doesn’t have a well-designed Edge Cloud. I discovered I couldn’t do a good job on 5G Strategies if I didn’t incorporate Edge Networks.

Verizon estimates 30 ms latency on its 5G network. It is installing Edge Networks that will bring latency down to about 15 ms. Vicki Palmer intends to turn on the Verizon Edge in 2019.

The biggest design question about Edge is where will it be?

Read moreCrucial question: Where goes Edge. 5 ms, 15 ms, 30 ms,50 ms, further

NVIDIA’s Edge is inside the enterprise

NVIDIA, which makes GPU chips popular for AI, has now released a software/hardware package called NVIDIA’s EGX edge platform. Cisco, Red Hat, AWS IoT Greengrass, and Microsoft Azure IoT Edge were part of the initial announcement. (Below)

All seven examples were for on-premises Edge rather than the clouds being developed by the carriers. Foxconn is watching assembly lines; GE interpreting results from Magnetic Resonance Imagers; Partners is automating medical record analysis; and Seagate is doing visual processing.

The release mentions “5G base stations,” but provides no examples of that use. The telco Edge clouds are not being deployed at the base stations anyway. They are all further back in the carrier network.

NVIDIA so far sees little demand from the telco Edge.

NVIDIA Launches Edge Computing Platform to Bring Real-Time AI to Global Industries

Monday, May 27, 2019 

Leading Computer Makers Adopt NVIDIA EGX Platform, Offering GPU Edge Servers for Instant AI on Real-Time Streaming Data in Telecom, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Retail, Transportation

Read moreNVIDIA’s Edge is inside the enterprise

UK Edge servers: BT says 1,000; Vodafone 64; DT 12

Iain Morris quotes Tom Bennett of BT, “BT would need 1,000 edge computing centres to cover the whole UK. … But it has yet to work out the business case for a major edge investment. One challenge that surrounds the so-called ‘distributed cloud’ will be getting customers to pay for premium services. Another is determining … Read moreUK Edge servers: BT says 1,000; Vodafone 64; DT 12

Verizon Cloud up and running. Q4 to the Edge

Quietly, CFO Matt Ellis told Morgan Stanley, “The company’s Mobile Edge Computing platform, which will enable real-time enterprise applications, is expected to launch in fourth-quarter 2019.” As previously reported, Verizon has been showing off an Edge Network designed for 15-25 milliseconds on 5G and 25-40 ms on LTE. Verizon is not just building 5G; it … Read moreVerizon Cloud up and running. Q4 to the Edge

Verizon 2019: 15 ms Edge with Fortnite, Red Dead Redemption, & gaming service

Fortnite, Red Dead Redemption 2, God of War, Battlefield V, and Destiny 2 are all running on the Nvidia Shield. … Our library will consist of most or all of the top games,” Chris Welch at The Verge reports. It is moving into beta on a Netflix-like service.

Adam Koeppe, senior VP for network planning, told Mike Dano, “The latency speeds obtained through the company’s edge computing test in Houston were 15 ms.” That more than the 10 ms Koeppe expected in 2016 or the 5 ms CEO Vestberg discussed in January, but about the best practical today. The 5G air latency is at about 10 ms.

“We’ll launch the first mobile edge compute platform later this year.

Read moreVerizon 2019: 15 ms Edge with Fortnite, Red Dead Redemption, & gaming service

Athonet Mobile Cloud Core: Live and waiting for you at Amazon

Athonet offers a software-based mobile packet core solution available in minutes at Amazon AWS. Check Amazon; it’s ready to go.

Suddenly, anyone building corporate LTE, regional IoT, broadband in the shared 3550 or anything unlicensed, and more can get right to work with no cash down, paying as they build a client base. The majors are also interested; the CTO award panel included some of the biggest in the business.

BubbleCloud just won a record four GLOMO awards, That’s particularly impressive because it was only nominated in three categories. The fourth was a special CTO’s Choice award. That’s as many as Ericsson, Nokia, and Samsung combined.

CEO Dr. Karim El Malki has been working on cores since he founded Athonet in 2005. The first product was tested in 2010. El Malki reflects that perhaps mobile operators were not ready then for cloudification.

Athonet is a new name to many of us, but they have done years of research. Nanda Menon writes me, “We have over 100 commercial systems in operation, public ones being the Govt of Finland, Enel (largest utility in Europe), La Ronde Mine in Canada, government of Italy and Government of France.”

Orange/France Telecom, BT, and Facebook have said encouraging things about his current products. The first few systems are live (French public safety, South American mining.)

Read moreAthonet Mobile Cloud Core: Live and waiting for you at Amazon

Why (at least) a mid-performance Edge cloud will be right for almost all carriers.

Deutsche Telekom may be the first carrier in the world to install an Edge Cloud, which they are doing at a remarkably low cost. By going further back in DT’s transport network, they reduced the number of boxes required from 10,000’s of thousands to hundreds.

A cloud like this – highly reliable but not quite as fast – would be a very small percentage of a carrier’s capex budget. (A carrier has the fiber and other equipment in place.) It would cut the latency on your network by 40% to 70%. Perhaps more important, the latency would be much more predictable.

DT started with an initial dozen sites, which connected to almost all of the country. It is also installing at as many as 900 additional locations in the regions. This is a Level 3 Cloud – on the carrier’s network but several hops from the towers.

Read moreWhy (at least) a mid-performance Edge cloud will be right for almost all carriers.

Could telcos lose the Edge Cloud race before it even begins?

Cole Crawford at Vapor IO is building a network designed to bypass the telco entirely. He’s installed an “aggregation box” a hop or three from the towers. Iyad Terazi’s Federated Wireless is ready to connect it with a dedicated radio in 3.5 GHz shared spectrum. That’s natural for certain kinds of IoT. The speed will be … Read moreCould telcos lose the Edge Cloud race before it even begins?