On the edge: can operators seize the €47.5bn opportunity?

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According to ABI Research, operators need to address a number of issues before they can take full advantage of the edge, for which there is no single deployment or commercial model.

Edge computing – putting processing, storage and other resources close to where they will be consumed – will be deployed to reduce latency and network traffic.

There are applications will only work with the edge approach, such as self-driving capabilities, augmented and virtual reality, and some uses of artificial intelligence.

However, the report’s author, Don Alusha, Senior Analyst at ABI, states that unless operators identify and prioritise vertical industries needing edge solutions immediately, they are in danger of being superseded by Amazon, Google, and Facebook.

He concluded, “This will seriously devalue 5G and the future of mobile service providers in general.”

Multiple strands

ABI has found that a number of strands must be addressed if edge computing is to become mainstream, with various levels of deployments and kinds of commercial models.

The report highlights some market engagement that are showing real potential, like MobiledgeX and ori.co, that are looking at how to monetise 5G and edge deployments.

Elsewhere AT&T and Telefónica (such as in banking, and media and entertainment) and  are working on how to unlock the potential of the edge in 5G networks.

Disconnected parties

Many enterprises do not understand the possibilities of edge computing while the operators understand the potential but not how to make money from it.

A key strategy for both vendors and operators, according to ABI, is figuring out how to build edge infrastructures that align with the ultimate business goal.

The company forecasts the penetration of edge servers in telco infrastructure could create a US$54 billion (€47.5 billion) opportunity by 2024.

Variable value

The value to vendors and software solution providers will vary, depending on how well they do at  enabling operators to capitalise on the opportunity, via use cases like video caching, geo-specific, and personalised services.

Alusha  said, “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…neither can become truly profitable without the other.”

More information about the report here.