Telco Edge: a contested $54 billion opportunity for telecom players
Jun 25, 2019
Mobile Service Providers (MSPs) are centralizing telecoms infrastructure in their private clouds and at the same time, trying to understand how they can deploy edge computing across their networks. The impending commercialization of ‘telco edge’ constitutes a ‘white space’ opportunity that will usher in significant growth for both the supply and demand side in telecoms, finds global tech market advisory firm ABI Research. There are a handful of new emerging applications, including self-driving caps, Augmented and Virtual Reality, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) that require distributed processing capabilities that only edge computing can offer.
Multiple strands, however, need to be addressed before edge computing becomes mainstream. There are various layers of edge deployment types, but not a “one-size-fits-all” commercial model. This not only renders the management of edge products a challenge but also presents a commercial opportunity for edge deployments and 5G rollouts. There are some promising market engagements from MobiledgeX and ori.co, two new and disruptive entrants that aim to monetize 5G networks and associated edge deployments in telecoms. Meanwhile, MSPs like AT&T and Telefónica are advancing in their journey to unlock the power of edge computing to deliver new services over 5G networks.
“In a business setting, nothing big starts big from the onset and tomorrow’s growth is not easy to spot for commercial entities lacking a clear understanding of the opportunity at stake,” said Don Alusha, Senior Analyst at ABI Research. “On one hand, the increasingly growing market for telco edge solutions and services is no doubt tomorrow’s opportunity, but it is one that is currently very complex in terms of technologies and competing stakeholders. MSPs, on the other hand, are in limbo - they understand the edge holds great potential, but they don’t yet know how to make money out of it. They need a “hero” edge application to kick start this market.”
One key concept that applies to both vendors and MSPs is the ability to understand and prioritize how to build edge infrastructures that align with the ultimate business goal. ABI Research’s forecast indicates that the penetration of edge servers in telco infrastructure stands to create a US$54 billion opportunity by 2024. The value to various telecom vendors and software solution providers will vary in line with their ability to help MSPs capitalize on the revenue potential of key use cases such as video caching, geo-specific, and personalized services.
“In the long run, telco edge deployments will become the de facto platforms to deliver services close to end users and enterprise facilities. 5G and edge are partner technologies, and in the long term, neither can become truly profitable without the other. It’s just that operators must identify both the enterprise vertical to prioritize and the ideal position of their edge servers. If they don’t do this immediately, Amazon, Google, and Facebook will target the very same enterprise verticals MSPs are trying to address. This will seriously devalue 5G and the future of mobile service providers in general,” Alusha concluded.
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