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Along the sidelines of the 15th Telecom Review Leaders’ Summit, Telecom Review had an exclusive interview with Bernard Najm, vice president, telco, MEA, Amazon Web Services (AWS) with a focus on edge computing, cloud, and 5G.

Which industry trends do you see around the edge?

The edge of the network is becoming increasingly important with the launch of 5G smart devices and new applications that will generate and consume a vast amount of data outside the traditional data center. In fact, according to Ericsson’s mobility report, 75% of the enterprise-generated data will be created and processed outside a traditional data center by 2025.

In general, the edge cloud is a hot topic in the industry as it provides telecom operators the opportunity to create new business models and monetize 5G for enterprises and consumers alike. Edge cloud is essential for emerging applications, such as industrial robotic automation, connected vehicles, AR/VR, infotainment, and media streaming which require very high bandwidth and low latency as well as local processing of a large amount of data to reduce the volume of traffic transported back to centralized data centers.

Hence, processing data closer to the source can save network bandwidth, device memory, and power. This can be done through the edge cloud and 5G’s unique combination which creates a unique opportunity for telecom operators to offer enterprises and consumers innovative services, growing beyond the typical connectivity.

We at AWS work with telecom operators to bring the cloud computing capabilities closer to the end-user and the network edge. With easy access to feature-rich AWS cloud services at the network edge, telecom operators, enterprises, and independent software vendors enable the development of innovative 5G applications.

What is AWS doing in cloud edge computing?

Now what sets AWS apart is our unique capabilities. We have a consistent programming model that provides the most secure cloud computing environment as well as the most extensive and reliable global cloud infrastructure. We offer the broadest and deepest capabilities for edge use cases.

What our customers desire are centralized control and decentralized execution. We provide this with a cloud-to-edge continuum, which is a consistent programming model for the cloud on-premises infrastructure and local devices. With a combination of cloud and edge computing, customers can seamlessly move code and workloads based on evolving requirements using the same common set of APIs and tools. This creates a lot of flexibility and the common deployment and management model, providing the inherent cost benefits of cloud computing.

Moreover, our AWS edge cloud services provide infrastructure and software that deliver data processing analysis and storage as close to the endpoint as necessary. This approach enables customers to build high-performance applications that rely on data processing and storage closer to where it is generated. It delivers ultra-low latency and intelligent real-time responsiveness, reducing the amount of data transfer.

One key benefit that our telecom operators customers value the most is the broad developer and independent software vendor community that builds on AWS. Using the experience of AWS and bringing edge cloud together with 5G, we can enable telecom operators to cloudify the network and accelerate the delivery of 5G at the edge. This allows telecom operators to unlock growth by creating new revenue streams and accelerating business value.

How is AWS enabling telecom operators to innovate around 5G and edge?

AWS enables telecom operators to provide a consistent experience from cloud to edge as an innovation platform for new services to their end customers. As such, we see different use cases as each application requires different performance from the network based on latency, bandwidth, and storage capacity. For example, VR and autonomous vehicles require high bandwidth and very low latency to deliver the right experience while home sensors and surveillance require much lower bandwidth and speed.

Having said that, AWS has a long history of developing services that deliver the right balance of storage, speed, and bandwidth to deliver the best customer experience at the edge of the cloud.

Let me outline two of the most prominent edge use cases and the solutions AWS has to address them.

First, we see the ultra-low latency mobile application use cases. We enable telecom operators to combine their 5G network with our AWS Wavelength servers so they can offer public 5G multi-access edge computing services to enterprises and developers.

Wavelength zones are AWS infrastructure deployments that embed our compute and storage services within the telecom operators’ data centers at the edge of their 5G network. They offer the same developer experience, as in the cloud. In this way, application traffic from 5G devices can reach application servers running in Wavelength zones, without leaving the telecom network. It takes full advantage of the ultra-low latency and bandwidth offered by 5G.

So far, we have deployed Wavelength zones with Verizon in the US, Vodafone in the UK and Germany, KDDI in Japan, and SKT in South Korea. Through the Verizon Wavelength zone, Zixi is providing media distribution to Bloomberg while Dedrone is providing an airspace security platform hosted on the Vodafone Wavelength zone in the UK. Woowa Bros has also deployed food delivery robots on SKT’s Wavelength zone while TVT has run mobile gaming on KDDI’s Wavelength zone.

Second, for private network use cases at the edge, we provide telecom operators with AWS Outposts. This is a fully managed service that offers the same AWS infrastructure, services, APIs, and tools to data center colocation spaces, both virtual and on-prem, providing a truly hybrid experience.

AWS Outposts is ideal for workloads that require low latency access to on-premise systems, local data processing, data residency, and migration of applications with local system interdependencies.

In the case of integrating Verizon’s 5G edge MEC platform to this service, one customer example is Corning Incorporated. Verizon has deployed a solution on AWS Outposts at the Corning factory in Hickory, North Carolina which allows Corning to run computer vision software in enabling the autonomous mobile robots that roam within the factory.

Other use cases include private networks in challenging environments, such as mines and oil rigs where we offer our industry-leading AWS Snow Family that includes edge cloud computing and storage devices that can run in poorly-connected edge locations. In terms of IoT solutions, telecom operators like BT utilize AWS to improve the management of millions of consumer devices in the home.

Which industries have the biggest demand for the edge?

The demand is high in every industry sector, may it be for manufacturing, distributing, or providing significant portions of their value chain near end customers. These verticals include automotive, transportation, logistics, gaming and entertainment, as well as event and conferencing.

I’ll give you a couple of examples. In automotive, HARMAN is using Verizon 5G edge with AWS Wavelength to support cellular vehicle-to-everything computing. This technology lets vehicles communicate with multiple devices on the go, lowers latency, and offers higher bandwidth so that customers can deliver improved communication and connectivity between drivers and applications.

In manufacturing, we work with Verizon and Tata Consultancy Services on industry 4.0 use cases, enabling real-time responsiveness for connected factories. This is critical for data to flow seamlessly between machines and the cloud to enable AI-powered real-time decisions.

In the transport sector in the UK, Aurrigo uses the Vodafone business distributed edge computing with AWS Wavelength to achieve the latency and speed needed to run a fleet of autonomous shuttles seamlessly and safely across the city.

For the event industry, CrowdVision uses Verizon’s 5G network and edge cloud for streaming sensor data and performing video analytics. This enables them to analyze crowds in public places, counting people in and out of venues, or determining social distancing for people to use.

In healthcare and education, a mobile virtual reality headset developer analyzes end-user reactions to content through eye-tracking brainwave sensors and machine learning using AWS Wavelength.

These are some of many actual deployments at the cloud edge. I’m very excited to work with our customers — telecom operators and developer ecosystem — to unlock innovation and growth at the edge.

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