Amazon: We want the Edge, with or without telco help

Mike Dano has a revealing interview with Glenn Gore of Amazon. The title is my inference based on Gore’s comments below, not Mike’s opinion. Mike is the finest telecom reporter in the US these days, with insight comparable to the very best analysts.

From Dano’s interview with Gore:

If you want to deliver on this promise of ultra-low latency to these new use cases, you have to be in that telco’s network. …

Now, the other way to look at this is: It’s a global market. And for a developer who might be thinking about a particular use case that’s at the convergence of 5G and ultra-low latency, they want to deploy this globally. They want to deploy this in as many locations as they can. But the implementation details, particularly on the transport layer or the network, is completely different country-to-country, company-to-company. It’s incredibly complex. And that’s where the telcos add a lot of value.

And so you can see how you can bring these two aspects together: The simplicity of building applications and managing services at scale ā€“ which is what AWS does ā€“ combined with the simplicity of managing complex networks in multiple locations and taking away the guesswork of, where is the best place to maybe deploy that application? …

[That’s a warning to any telco who holds back the web giants. Few potential Edge customers will want to deal separately with a dozen telcos. It will be much easier to use Amazon or Google. Dave]

What are the latency requirements for the workloads? Some customers will say, for some of their use cases, they need sub-10 milliseconds latency. So you could see that every city is going to need multiple locations to have that type of latency response.

I think the reality is that, there are not that many applications that require such a low latency. But I think that’s the fun thing: We don’t know exactly what customers are going to build on top of this infrastructure.

I believe the second biggest question about Edge networks is whether they will be dominated by the telcos/cablecos, the web giants, or perhaps someone else. The only more important question is who if anyone will pay for speed at the Edge. The only known buyers in the West are government security agencies, with several in North America and Europe already working with telcos.

Two years ago, everyone in telecom assumed the telcos would build the Edge and collect from everyone. ETSI MEC outlined standards, dozens of books were written, and analysts made many offers to show the way to massive profits (for a fee.)

As I write in July, 2020, no Western carrier has committed to a large Edge network. Verizon has 50 nodes ready to go at Service Access Points but is behind schedule turning them on. It has a team designing a thousand node Edge network but has not said that will be a go. DT has a 13 node network in operation and has discussed plans to do more. Telefonica has done a great deal of testing and planning.

They and others have discovered that an Edge Network will need to be part of a major hybrid cloud and it will be extremely challenging to build and manage. Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and the Chinese have thousands of engineers working on cloud software. It will take an enormous effort for a telco or supplier to develop comparable software.

Ericsson and Nokia have large projects for telco cloud systems, but as far as I know are far from delivering many desired features. Huawei is close and now has the second or third largest cloud in China. It is expanding worldwide rapidly and has been central to the ambitious efforts at Deutsche Telekom.

IF you haven’t guessed, I don’t yet know how this will play out.

Improvements welcome