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BT, AWS Wavelength to bring 4G/5G mobile edge compute to business customers

BT, AWS Wavelength to bring 4G/5G mobile edge compute to business customers

BT recently announced an investment to bring mobile edge compute to its UK business customers of its 5G and 4G services in partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS).

BT and AWS have joined forces to enable faster, secure and high-bandwidth connectivity for use cases such as policing, crowd management, healthcare and security. The multi-million-pound investment will leverage EE‘s national mobile network with AWS Wavelength.

“By building cloud edge services into our 5G and 4G EE network, we can accelerate innovation across industries, and bring fast, secure data processing closer to where our customers need it most,” says Alex Tempest, the managing director for BT Wholesale. 

BT says it is investing in its existing mobile networks to enable 5G-connected infrastructure IoT via AWS Wavelength and is implementing a new AWS Wavelength Zone in Manchester to business customers within a 100-kilometer radius. BT aims to roll out AWS Wavelength to business customers across the UK in the coming years.

By embedding AWS compute and storage services within 5G and 4G networks, AWS Wavelength can offer mobile edge computing infrastructure for applications requiring ultra-low latency. Hosting services at the edge of EE’s UK network significantly reduces latency because application traffic does not have to journey outside BT’s infrastructure to access application servers running on AWS Wavelength Zone.

Use cases include autonomous vehicles, cameras for public services, live media production, smart industrial robots and community healthcare monitoring.

“It’s set to unlock use cases like IoT cameras to help first responders keep communities safe: a real-life example of using tech to connect for good,” states Tempest.

BT Wholesale has collaborated with AWS on trials in Manchester, which they plan to roll out nationwide. This service will be available to all BT private and public business customers in the UK.

Ultimately, we want to give businesses and public sector organizations all the power of edge computing, wherever they are,” adds Tempest.

Last summer, AWS introduced its second AWS Wavelength Zone to be established in South Korea- this time in Seoul. The Seoul AWS Wavelength Zone storage and embedded compute service on the edge of SK Telecom’s 5G network.

Analysis

There have been scads of announcements about partnerships between telcos and cloud providers (with AWS Wavelength being a prominent example) talking about edge computing services. What’s interesting here is that BT has added its 4G networks into the equation.

Edge computing in telco networks has typically referred to as Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) built around ETSI development efforts; MEC and 5G have been practically synonymous even though there are research papers dating back to 2018 that address the possibilities and challenges around deploying MEC with 4G networks.

So why specify that this partnership will cover 4G as well as 5G networks? Previous iterations of cellular wireless technologies — 2G and 3G — will be phased out in the UK by 2033, so 4G could be expected to be around at least as long. One reasonable answer is that BT has a larger addressable market by offering Wavelength to customers covered by either network. While marketing the bandwidth and ultra-low latency of 5G make for great ads and trade show presentations, offering edge computing across a wider swath of geography and interested customers is a better business decision.

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