Just one week after outsourcing their 5G SA/Core network software and IP to Microsoft (Azure public cloud), AT&T and Google Cloud announced new initiatives across AT&T’s 5G and Google Cloud’s edge computing portfolio, including AT&T’s on-premises Multi-access Edge Compute (MEC) solution, as well as AT&T Network Edge capabilities through LTE, 5G, and wireline.
For over a year, AT&T and Google Cloud have been developing edge solutions for the enterprise. Now, the two companies are taking the next step to deliver transformative capabilities that help businesses drive real value and build industry-changing experiences in retail, healthcare, manufacturing, entertainment and more — with the ability to use Google Maps, Android, Pixel, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), and other solutions across Google for more immersive customer experiences. For example:
- Enabling video analytics services to help businesses across industries with theft prevention, crowd control, and queue prediction and management.
- In retail: Streamlining and automating inventory management, connecting brick-and-mortar, and ecommerce and backend systems for near real-time visibility into operations.
- In healthcare: Scaling access to services like telehealth-based therapy, using AR and VR for remote care either from patients’ homes or at an onsite facility.
- In manufacturing: Accelerating operations with remote support and quality control checks at plant locations, and optimizing bandwidth usage by streaming video on the edge rather than on-device.
- In entertainment: Enhancing in-venue experiences for concerts and sporting events, with solutions ranging from immersive AR and VR experiences, smart parking and ticketless entry, to contactless food and souvenir payment.
The companies are also working together to evaluate how network APIs could optimize applications, using near real-time network information at the Google Cloud edge. If successful, this would allow them to optimize the user experience at the edge and drive meaningful outcomes for businesses.
AT&T Multi-access Edge Compute (MEC) with Google Cloud combines AT&T’s existing 5G and fully managed MEC offering with core Google Cloud capabilities, including Kubernetes, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), data analytics, and a robust edge ISV ecosystem. With the solution, enterprises can build and run modern applications close to their end users, with the flexibility to manage data on-prem, in a customer’s data center, or in any cloud. All this can help customers to increase control over data, improve security, lower latency and provide higher bandwidth.
AT&T Network Edge (ANE) with Google Cloud will enable enterprises to deploy applications at Google edge points of presence (POPs), which will be connected to AT&T’s 5G and fiber networks. In this low-latency compute and storage environment, businesses can deliver faster, more seamless enterprise and customer experiences. AT&T and Google Cloud are focusing on a multi-year strategy to bring the solution to 15+ zones across major cities, starting with Chicago this year. We expect to roll out the solution next in Atlanta, Dallas, Miami, and San Francisco.
“By combining the power of AT&T 5G and Google Cloud technologies, we are helping enterprises create new customer experiences and business services that were previously impossible,” said George Nazi, Vice President, Global Telecom, Media and Entertainment Solutions, Google Cloud. “Together with AT&T, we are committed to enabling our customers to build and deliver next-generation applications, whether on-premise or on AT&T’s leading mobile network.”
“With premises-based 5G and network edge computing, we give our customers even greater control of where their data goes and how they use it – at higher speeds and with lower latency. These capabilities allow businesses to deliver unique experiences to their customers, today and into the future,” said Rasesh Patel, Chief Product and Platform Officer, AT&T Business. “We’re bringing forth a new era where the latest technological advancements, including 5G and edge computing, make it possible to transform, innovate and prepare for whatever the future holds.”
“5G, cloud services and edge compute each have a tremendous amount of promise as standalone technologies,” says Jason Leigh, research manager for 5G and Mobile Services Research at IDC. “But coupling these three as complimentary, enabling technologies both accelerates and extends the promise of digital transformation in many more business settings.”
You can learn more about AT&T’s work in on-premises edge computing here, and network-based edge computing here. To learn more about Google Cloud’s work driving transformation and 5G adoption, visit here.
AT&Ts collaboration with Google extends beyond business and reaches the hands of the consumer. Together, the two companies are combining the power of AT&Ts 5G and fiber networks with Google cloud gaming platform.
Comment: It’s quite interesting that AT&T has outsourced its 5G SA core network to Microsoft Azure, but is using Google Cloud for edge computing for its 5G and fiber optics networks. AT&T claims a cohesive cloud strategy, but the network operator’s various alliances with cloud providers are confusing, according to Kathryn Weldon, research director at GlobalData. AT&T previously announced 5G edge partnerships with IBM, Microsoft, Accenture, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Deloitte.
The different goals AT&T hopes to achieve with each cloud or edge vendor and how they will jointly provide specific aspects of edge computing for each remains unclear, Weldon said.
“There have been so many announcements regarding operators’ relationships with hyper-scalers for 5G edge that it would be helpful to get really specific about use cases. The immersive experience examples are a bit generic. It’s time for actual customer use cases to be cited, even if they are only in trial,” she wrote in a report. Google Cloud and AT&T said joint customers will gain near real-time access to features packed into Google’s cloud and some of its most popular services.
“While the new initiatives leverage more Google capabilities, the announcement begs the question as to what things the partners have been working on for the last year. It isn’t clear why the listed Google elements could not have been brought in before,” Weldon added.