The Telco Edge Cloud Explained

May 27th, 2021

Headshot for Jeff James

Jeff James

Director of Content Marketing

The phrase “telco edge cloud” has been appearing more often in the industry press these days, and if you’re unfamiliar with the concept, it may help to first explain how the telco edge cloud relates to cloud computing and edge computing.

Cloud computing has brought about a revolution in how computing resources are provided and consumed. Some of the major cloud computing service providers include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud, which provide storage and computing services from their own data centers. For many use cases that model works well, an approach that makes streaming media services like Netflix and global social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter possible.

One drawback to that approach is that data needs to travel from the data center to the place it’s being used, introducing delays as the data bounces back and forth on the internet between that remote data center and the location the data is being used or generated. Note that this data exchange can be bi-directional, as a client -- like a security CCTV, or a sensor operating in real-time generating a large quantity of information -- can be the primary source for the data as well. 

In this image, traditional cloud computing is represented by the dark blue, rightmost region labeled "Traditional In-Cloud Compute."

One solution to reduce that delay is to bring the computing resources closer to where they’re needed, which is what edge computing tries to accomplish. If you’re using a mobile device, your path to cloud services will often go through a phone operator like T-Mobile or Deutsche Telekom. By putting computing resources at infrastructure operated by telco providers, you can minimize that response time and improve performance for applications.

Over the last few decades, telco operators have built up impressive networks of services, from legacy wired services to vast networks of transmission towers, data centers, and other network services that have steadily grown and multiplied. 

Telco operators have a lot of infrastructure and resources close to where their customers use their mobile devices. Having these resources so close to where they are needed has a number of benefits, including reducing latency for speed-sensitive applications and providing a variety of location-based services. All of these capabilities can serve as a value-added layer between mobile devices and public cloud providers. Yet with all the potential benefits of using telco edge, one issue historically has been that most operator infrastructure isn’t always easy to take advantage of, or to be easily made available for use by developers.

What is the Telco Edge Cloud?

Enter the telco edge cloud. By aggregating and consolidating all of those operator networks and compute services into a federated cloud, it becomes much easier for developers -- particularly mobile application developers -- to consume.  That’s precisely what our MobiledgeX Edge-Cloud platform does. 

A diagram showing how the MobiledgeX Edge-Cloud platform works across devices, networks, and cloud resources.

As a developer, this aggregated set of edge cloud services gives you several  advantages.

First, since your app can draw on compute resources from locations much closer to where users are using your apps on their mobile devices, you’ll experience lower latency, which opens up new possibilities for many mobile applications, from remote rendering for gaming to real time analytics with computer vision. The telco edge cloud can serve in a complimentary fashion with public cloud providers, all the while giving operators better control and data sovereignty since the data being used remains completely within the operator network.

Second, given that our MobiledgeX Edge-Cloud platform aggregates and pools cloud resources, you don’t need to worry about the underlying hardware and architecture of the telco network edge resources that those clouds are providing. The infrastructure landscape for edge computing remains highly-distributed and very heterogeneous, so less complexity translates into faster (and easier) development of edge-enabled mobile applications. Thanks to the MobiledgeX Edge-Cloud platform, application developers now have control over where and how their workloads are being deployed on operator infrastructure.

If you’re a telco operator, this also gives you some genuine benefits. First, you can now leverage your existing telco edge infrastructure in new ways, allowing you to provide telco edge cloud services to the app developers we just talked about. 

Secondly, using the MobiledgeX Edge-Cloud platform to aggregate and federate those resources into a telco edge cloud gives you the ability to offer cloud services. Typically, those resources  would have to rely on a public cloud provider like Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, or Microsoft Azure. This gives operators a plethora of new options in their toolbox of working with hyperscalers, allowing them to keep control of cloud services based on the telco network edge where and when it makes sense, and use public cloud providers when that makes business sense. It’s all about giving operators options and choice on how to leverage telco network services at the edge.

Learn More About the Telco Edge Cloud

There are a number of other resources that discuss the telco edge cloud in more detail, so I’ve listed a few of them below.  Feel free to connect with me on Twitter (@jeffjames3), and if you’re a telco operator interested in hearing more about how MobiledgeX can help you transform your telco network edge, please contact the MobiledgeX business development team

A special thank you to Thomas Vits (@ThomasVits), Vasanth Mohan (@FusedVR), and Geoff Hollingworth (@geoffworth) for their feedback and input on this post.