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Eric Braun

Chief Commercial Officer

Heavy Reading has just released the report based on its most recent “5G Network & Service Strategies Operator Survey.” We were fortunate to have a chance to work with the Heavy Reading analyst team to define the questions as they pertained to Edge.

It’s very important to have this kind of “reality check” considering that, as a company, we think about the Edge 24x7, and that the part of the market we see is the risk-taking, reward-seeking innovators and early adopters. What does the larger market think?  The Heavy Reading survey is a great tool for that check; they select their respondents from the Light Reading database and qualify the respondents as employees of communications service providers.

So you can imagine that waiting for the survey answers was sort of like waiting to see if you got into the college you hoped for -- anxiety producing. As it turned out, we had nothing to fear. If anything, we were pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm for Edge that is in the broader market. Some of the highlights:

  • Over 90% say that Edge computing is important or critical to the strategy of their future business

  • Over 80% say Edge is important or critical to future experience delivery

  • Over 70% say Edge is a new opportunity

Not surprisingly, the respondents see Edge as having a 2020/21 commercial impact. While we don’t disagree with this as a description of the broad market, we caution people to carefully consider the implications.The Edge market might not be “big” by the standards of mobile operators until 2021, but if the strategic implications are as big as they seem to be (above), waiting until 2020 will put you seriously behind the market-leading adopters. Edge, as we see it, isn’t a new type infrastructure or architecture; it’s not “6G" as some have suggested. Edge is an enabling technology for new applications and new capabilities to support business agility and revenue discovery and expansion.You can’t wait until the benefit is obvious and make up for the delay in volume. We’re quite sure that the big winners in Edge will be early participants, and many of those are already moving with a concerted effort to integrate Edge into R&D and product development.

Speaking of market strategies, although it’s only indirectly addressed in this survey, we’ve heard some opine that if Edge is big when 5G is taking hold, maybe its value is diminished because of the dramatic improvements in latency with 5G compared to 4G/LTE. Our early work with customers suggests that Edge is not just about latency.  In fact, in many applications, the benefit is the bandwidth and system resources at the edge and how they are used (along with embedded Edge services such as AI, ML and next-gen CDN) to greatly scale a AR/VR applications. This is a case of devices (existing and new, ranging from smartphones to autonomous vehicles) dynamically pulling services to the nearest point on the mobile network to dependably and predictably perform a job in just a few milliseconds. 5G will only make the Edge better with network slicing, more precise location and… reduced latency too. The point is that the value of Edge extends far beyond reduced latency.

Read the report and think about it. It’s a much broader view of 5G futures than just Edge, and it includes thematic sections on: Deployment Timelines & Services, Radio Access Network (RAN) Evolution, 5G Transport & Backhaul, 5G Network Slicing, 5G Core Networks, and Mobile Edge Networking & Cloud. The numbers are interesting as is the Heavy Reading analysis. Then put the report down and start working on how you’re going to leverage Edge; we’ll look forward to hearing from you.

If you are a mobile operator and interested to learn how you can monetize your existing investments for edge, please read and contact here.