GSMA has big plans for 5G and the edge

via Flickr © dullhunk (CC BY 2.0)

via Flickr © dullhunk (CC BY 2.0)

  • But it’s promising that its resulting 'Telco Edge Cloud 'will be open and inclusive
  • A host of global CSPs have signed up to the GSMA initiative
  • VMware and MobiledgeX are certifying the MobiledgeX Edge-Cloud R2.0 offering

A plethora of telcos including Telefonica, KT Corp, China Unicom, EE, KDDI  and Telstra have agreed to collaborate on “the multi-operator Edge Computing experience”, and MOUs have been signed to kick things off. 

The idea they say is to make edge compute capabilities widely and easily available. The effort is being overseen by the GSMA as part of its Operator Platform project which is designed to ‘monetise’ the edge, by orchestrating facilities such as edge computing and network slicing and making them available on a global basis by interconnecting Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) platforms. 

A second announcement comes from MobiledgeX which last week also threw its weight behind the GSMA platform project to collaborate with VMware. The companies say that VMware’s 5G-ready Telco Cloud platform and MobiledgeX Edge-Cloud R2.0 will work together to introduce new revenue-producing services, streamline operations, reduce network infrastructure costs, and enable modern, elastic business models.  

Since 2018, MobiledgeX has been working with global mobile operators to deploy a cloud platform that extends deep into the mobile operators’ networks and as close as possible to end-users. At the same time, VMware has been adapting its virtualization and automation suite to the needs of mobile operators to accelerate the virtualization of their networks and to deliver new services. 

Together, VMware and MobiledgeX are certifying the MobiledgeX Edge-Cloud R2.0 offering to run on VMware’s Telco Cloud platform, to enable CSPs and their customers to push services and applications to the edge. VMware and MobiledgeX are also working with leading ISVs and channel partners to integrate vertical-specific applications. 

The GSMA says the Telco Edge Cloud Platform will be developed this year and will make network capabilities such as low latency, compute and storage available in a standard way to application developers and software vendors as they scramble to meet the needs of enterprise clients. 

Initially, the platform will be deployed across multiple markets in Europe and progressively extended to other operators and geographies to achieve global reach.

The GSMA appears to be sensitive to the danger that, with the ‘edge’ and 5G arriving at the party together, as it were, it might be open to accusations of attempting to stitch up the edge to unfairly favour mobile telco networks and services, especially as there’s been much talk in some circles of the new technologies being developed as vehicles to put telcos back in control and to maximise ‘monetisation’. 

The GSMA is at pains to claim that the telco edge cloud will be structured to be open and inclusive while providing full data protection, sovereignty mechanisms and carrier grade reliability and security. This means aggregation platforms such as MobiledgeX along with the interconnect mechanisms developed as part of the GSMA’s MultiOperator MEC experience, along with others, will be supported.

 In other words edge compute and storage will be a game that anyone can play and any network can connect to. 

“It is essential for enterprises to be able to reach all of their customers from the edge of any network,” says Alex Sinclair, CTO at GSMA. “Based on the GSMA Operator Platform Specification, Telco Edge Cloud will provide enterprise developers and aggregators with a consistent way to reach connected customers.”

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