Verizon 5G Edge Net. Fuhgeddaboudit! (At least for now)

Analysis Branch typical latencies

Verizon has abandoned plans to build an Edge Network only 18 months after announcing an audacious program. What Verizon has deployed runs at 4G speeds and Vestberg should not be calling it an “Edge Network.” It just marketing hype for a deal between Verizon and Amazon’s distributed cloud, with no interesting technical advantages.

“”Improved edge architecture will be a true architectural driver of change,” said Nicki Palmer, Verizon’s senior vice president of technology and product development. “With 5G, latency will ultimately be less than 10 milliseconds.” (Emphasis added)

Verizon boldly announced “5G Edge” instead is running at 20-30 ms latency, not that much faster than similar sections of Verizon’s 4G network. There’s no legal definition of “Edge Network,” so Verizon can call this whatever it chooses.

It’s simply untrue that Verizon is offering “ultra-low latency.” Verizon’s 5G 30 ms is slower than my cable modem and most Wi-Fi, It is not much better than 4G. Latencies vary widely, but the numbers here are representative.

Verizon has a team designing a 1,000 node Edge Network. If demand develops, they can deploy it. Meanwhile, they’ll charge Amazon for rent, fiber connections, and other services. Verizon’s investment will be small and the service will quickly be modestly profitable,

Thierry Sender of Verizon tells me that Verizon over time will densify the network, possibly to the C-RANs. He’s enthusiastic about the performance of Verizon’s mmWave network, which I have called the best wireless network in the world.

I’ll be very happy to report progress like that, although there are no firm dates.

Why Edge is a tough sell

The killer comparison is between 5G and a fiber connected enterprise. Except possibly gaming, the major applications for Edge are business. Almost all large enterprises in the US have fiber and many small ones as well.

Telus, Canada’s #2, tells me it can reach 90% of Canadian businesses with 5 ms latency. Level 3 makes a similar claim and has thousands of buildings on net.

Fiber is the most reliable and cheapest, once installed. Why would a business use wireless 5G, even if Verizon delivered 10-15 ms as planned? With 25-50 ms, the actual 5G Edge network will mostly find customers outdoors.

Edge is at a virtual standstill outside Asia

Deutsche Telekom was so enthusiastic about Edge it hired Jason Hoffman and set up a subsidiary, MobiledgeX in California. It installed the first dozen or so nodes more than a year ago, but little word since. Telefonica and AT&T were also public about testing and plans. Neither has any announced deployments.

Except for security services, customers are not emerging. Verizon in particular expected strong takeup from games services such as Steam, Twitch, and Google Stadia. That could still develop if the gaming software is modified for a different network design. So far, no one is buying,

Everyone on the telco side wildly underestimated the complexity and cost of building high-performance, hybrid Edge clouds. A Cloud is far more than a simple server with processors. All the major clouds – Alibaba, Huawei, Amazon, Microsoft, Google – have built an extraordinary suite of services. Even if the funding were available, few telcos could rapidly hire and train the hundreds of software engineers required to offer a full suite of services.

When I started learning about Edge two years ago, I had no idea of the software demands. As I learned a little about DevOps, Kubernetes, and the like, I discovered it’s a demanding, fully professional field. I suspect the people inside the telcos have similarly discovered they had completely underestimated what would be required.

The Chinese are spending the billions on the necessary software. Reliance Jio in India will do the same.

Most other carriers will choose to become junior partners of cloud giants.

Large organizations have the biggest requirements. They may do it without the telco

The AWS Wavelength servers going into Verizon were originally designed for enterprises. On-site servers promise even better performance and security,

Verizon has a separate deal with Microsoft to deliver turnkey corporate nets. Nokia and Ericsson are actively chasing the same market. Bosch, a major industrial supplir, has committed a billion to developing and selling systems.

It’s too early to know who will win those markets.

The natural market for Edge is surveillance and military

The US is a surveillance state far beyond most people’s imagination. China, of course, even more so. Edge servers can assist cop cars ID thousands of license plates. It’s likely already practical to do facial and gesture recognition on a million people in Times Square on New Year’s eve.

I believe two governments have already contracted with telcos to surveil airspace for drones. Telcos hope to manage drone air traffic control as well, but that many years away.

Killer robots are no longer exclusively for horror movies. The US is actively testing mechanized, autonomous warfighters. I’m sure other countries are as well.

The US military has committed over a billion dollars to 5G. Command, control, and communication are at the heart of modern warfare. Milliseconds make a difference when guiding a missile or bomb.

Verizon and AWS bring MEC to Denver and Seattle

10 cities across the country now benefit from Verizon’s 5G Edge technology

NEW YORK  – WEBWIRE – Wednesday, December 30, 2020

What you need to know:

  • Verizon and AWS are adding two additional 5G MEC cities bringing the total to 10 in 2020
  • By moving AWS compute and storage to the edge of Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network, innovators can develop new latency-sensitive applications that can transform industries ranging from healthcare to transportation, finance and entertainment
  • HARMAN, Inception XR and Skyward are using Verizon 5G Edge with AWS Wavelength to test how 5G and MEC can enhance applications for connected vehicles, immersive content and drones

Developers and businesses can tap into the power of Verizon 5G Edge with AWS Wavelength in two new locations: Denver and Seattle. Verizon 5G Edge, a mobile edge computing (MEC) platform, lets developers build applications for mobile end-users and wireless edge devices with ultra-low latency, extended battery life, massive throughput and more. Verizon and AWS launched Verizon 5G Edge with AWS Wavelength in August in Boston and the San Francisco Bay Areaand have since expanded to 10 cities including AtlantaDallasLas Vegas, Miami, New York and Washington, DC.

5G Edge moves the data and processing done by applications and services closer to the end user at the edge of the network. This shortens the roundtrip that data needs to travel, reducing lag time, or latency, and helps critical, performance-impacting applications respond more quickly and efficiently. AWS Wavelength brings AWS compute and storage services to the edge of Verizon’s network, allowing innovators to develop applications with increased speeds, massive bandwidth and ultra-low latency.

Many innovators are already testing their solutions at the edge of Verizon’s 5G network with AWS Wavelength including HARMAN and Inception XR.

HARMAN is using Verizon 5G Edge with AWS Wavelength to support 5G Edge-based Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) computing capabilities. C-V2X communications technology lets vehicles communicate with multiple devices on the go and when stationary. To accomplish that, C-V2X uses cell phone base station technology to connect vehicles and infrastructure units within the transportation ecosystem. The use of 5G Edge with AWS Wavelength lowers latency and offers higher bandwidth so that customers can deliver improved communications and connectivity between drivers and the applications in their vehicles and on their devices.

“The combination of 5G and C-V2X edge computing not only can offer increased vehicular safety by informing drivers of road work restrictions, speed limit warnings and forward collision warnings, but also gives consumers unprecedented access to their favorite content faster than ever before,” says Ram Iyer, Senior Director of Telematics Engineering at HARMAN. “With the combination of Verizon 5G Edge, AWS Wavelength, and HARMAN’s automotive industry leading 5G Edge technology, consumers can enjoy exceptional availability of all their favorite content wherever they may be.”

Inception XR delivers XR (extended reality) apps with some of the world’s best-known IP, across multiple content categories. This platform enables Inception and its partners to create and distribute content across platforms, devices and verticals in a highly scalable and cost-effective way. Inception is currently working with Verizon 5G Edge and AWS Wavelength to test how increased bandwidth and lower latency can improve the richness and resolution of mobile, immersive content for both businesses and consumers.

“We are excited to share with the world our immersive XR experiences using Verizon 5G Edge with AWS Wavelength,” said Benny Arbel CEO of Inception XR. “With 5G and MEC, top-quality content can now be viewed in a richer, more enhanced way. By delivering content that is rendered on a GPU a hundred times more powerful than the mobile device GPU, we can achieve an experience with millions of polygons streamed seamlessly with low latency giving the end user a truly unique experience.”

Verizon is also using 5G Edge with AWS Wavelength internally to build new drone applications. Skyward, a Verizon company that provides software and consulting for companies that use drones commercially, has attached a virtual reality (VR) camera to a drone that sends the video content over 5G and MEC to multiple viewers on the ground. The use of 5G and MEC reduces the amount of hardware on the drone removing weight and heat which means drones can fly longer and go greater distances and it drives down cost significantly by reducing the amount of onboard computing. The reduced latency and massive bandwidth provided by 5G Edge with AWS Wavelength also means the amount of viewers and audience size can increase, and pilots can use computer vision or laser-based obstacle detection systems to gain real-time situational awareness.

“By bringing together the unprecedented performance of Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network with Verizon 5G Edge and AWS’s compute and storage services, we’ll support innovation and transformation across nearly every industry helping to usher in the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” said Tami Erwin, CEO. “Together with AWS, we made 5G mobile edge compute real in 2020 and next year will bring even more MEC locations and increasing capabilities and toolsets for developers to grow the 5G MEC ecosystem.”

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