AWS looks to dominate 5G edge with telco partners that include Verizon, Vodafone, KDDI, SK Telecom
On Dec. 3rd at AWS re:Invent (Dec. 2-6, 2019) in Las Vegas, Amazon Web Services Inc. (AWS), announced AWS Wavelength, which provides developers the ability to build applications that serve end-users with single-digit millisecond latencies over the 5G network. AWS is partnering with Verizon on making AWS Wavelength available across the United States. Currently, AWS Wavelength is being piloted by select customers in Verizon’s 5G Edge, Verizon’s mobile edge compute (MEC) solution, in Chicago. Additionally, AWS is collaborating with other global telecommunications companies (including Vodafone, SK Telecom, and KDDI) to launch AWS Wavelength across Europe, South Korea, and Japan in 2020, with more global partners coming soon. From Amazon’s AWS Wavelength press release:
AWS Wavelength enables developers to build applications that deliver single-digit millisecond latencies to mobile devices and end-users. AWS developers can deploy their applications to Wavelength Zones, AWS infrastructure deployments that embed AWS compute and storage services within the wireless telecommunications providers’ data centers at the edge of the 5G networks, and seamlessly access the breadth of AWS services in the region. This enables developers to deliver applications that require single-digit millisecond latencies such as game and live video streaming, machine learning inference at the edge, and augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR).
AWS Wavelength brings AWS services to the edge of the 5G network, minimizing the latency to connect to an application from a mobile device. Application traffic can reach application servers running in Wavelength Zones without leaving the mobile provider’s network. This reduces the extra network hops to the Internet that can result in latencies of more than 100 milliseconds, preventing customers from taking full advantage of the bandwidth and latency advancements of 5G.
More from the press release:
Wavelength embeds AWS compute and storage services at the edge of wireless telecommunications providers’ 5G networks, enabling developers to serve use-cases that require ultra-low latency like machine learning inference at the edge, autonomous industrial equipment, smart cars and cities, Internet of Things (IoT), and Augmented and Virtual Reality. Wavelength brings the power of AWS to the edge of the 5G network, so developers can deploy the portions of an application that require ultra-low latency within the 5G network, and then seamlessly connect back to the rest of their application and full range of cloud services running in AWS. AWS customers can now use the same familiar AWS APIs, tools, and functionality they use today, to deliver-low latency applications at the edge of the 5G network, around the world […]
With infrastructure that consists of 69 Availability Zones, in 22 AWS Regions, AWS enables developers to serve end-users with low latencies worldwide. However, emerging interactive applications like game streaming, virtual reality, and real-time rendering require even lower latencies, of single-digit milliseconds to end-users and devices, connected through mobile networks. In addition, use-cases like industrial automation, smart cities, IoT, and autonomous vehicles require data processing to take place close to the source in order to conserve resources like device power and bandwidth. The 5G network is up to 20 times faster than 4G, and can be used to dramatically increase the number of supported devices and shrink network latency for mobile devices. However, even with the arrival of 5G, mobile devices still have to cross multiple network hops when connecting to an application over the Internet. Today, application traffic has to travel from a device to a cell tower to metro aggregation sites to regional aggregation sites and to the Internet before it can access resources running in AWS. These network hops can result in latencies of more than 100 milliseconds. This prevents developers from realizing the full potential of 5G to address low-latency use-cases.
Wavelength addresses these problems by bringing AWS services to the edge of the 5G network, minimizing the latency to connect to an application from a mobile device. With Wavelength, AWS developers can deploy their applications to Wavelength Zones, AWS infrastructure deployments that embed AWS compute and storage services within the network operators’ datacenters at the edge of the 5G network, so application traffic only needs to travel from the device to a cell tower to a Wavelength Zone running in a metro aggregation site. This removes a lot of the latency that would result from multiple hops between regional aggregation sites and across the Internet, which enables customers to take full advantage of 5G networks. Wavelength also delivers a consistent developer experience across multiple 5G networks around the world, and allows developers to build the next generation of ultra-low latency applications using the familiar AWS services, APIs, and tools they already use today – eliminating the need for developers to negotiate for space and equipment with multiple telecommunications providers, and stitch together application deployment and operations through different management interfaces, before they can begin to deploy their applications.
AWS Wavelength combines the power of the AWS cloud with the cutting-edge 5G networks of leading telecommunications providers like Verizon, Vodafone, KDDI, and SK Telecom to unlock a new wave of innovative applications and services around the world. By delivering these new capabilities, Wavelength enables developers to serve mobile users with single-digit millisecond latency and to optimize their applications by processing data closer to its source, enabling use-cases across a wide range of platforms – from factories to stores to cars to homes.
To deploy their application to the 5G edge, developers can simply extend their Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) to include a Wavelength Zone and then create AWS resources like Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances, Amazon Elastic Block Storage (EBS) volumes, and AWS Elastic Container Service (ECS) and Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Services (EKS) containers. In addition, developers can continue to use familiar and powerful AWS services to manage, secure, and scale their applications like AWS CloudFormation, AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), and AWS Auto Scaling. This enables developers to easily run a wide variety of latency-sensitive workloads like analytics, IoT, machine learning, game streaming, and AR/VR.”
With Wavelength, we bring 5G and cloud together to give our customers the powerful new capability to run cloud services consistently within a few milliseconds of mobile end-users,” said Matt Garman, Vice President Compute Services, AWS. “This is a game changer for developers that is going to unlock a whole new generation of applications and services. We are really excited to see our customers innovate with these unique new capabilities that they did not have access to before.
AWS Wavelength: Partner testimonials:
From the AWS press announcement, here are current Amazon’s Wavelength partners’ testimonial statements:
“Verizon is building the most powerful 5G network in the U.S. Launched in April, Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network is currently live in 18 cities as well as 16 sporting and entertainment arenas across the country, and plans to expand to more than 30 U.S. cities by the end of this year. “Continuing our tradition of bringing new technology to market first we are excited to launch a mobile edge compute service — integrating our 5G Edge platform with Wavelength to allow developers to build new categories of applications and network cloud experiences,” said Kyle Malady, CTO of Verizon. “Bringing together the full capabilities of Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network and AWS, we unlock the full potential of our 5G services for customers to create applications and solutions with the fastest speeds and ultra-low latency.”
Verizon and AWS will integrate AWS – Wavelength with 5G Edge so developers can begin testing applications on ultra-low latency networks. The plan is to connect 5G applications to AWS cloud services without the hops. The two companies will bring compute and storage closer to 5G users. Deployments are planned in Chicago for select customers in 2020 with additional locations added throughout the year.
“Varjo Technologies Oy is based in Helsinki and is creating the world’s best hardware and software for groundbreaking VR/AR/XR computing devices, merging the real and digital worlds seamlessly together in human-eye resolution. “Simulating things at the same acuity you see in real life is a game changer compared to standard VR approaches. Varjo’s unique human-eye resolution technology helps professionals save time, money, and effort,” said Niko Eiden, Founder and CEO, Varjo. “Not too far down the road, our technology will be fully wireless, collaborative mixed reality. And this workspace of the future needs to be rendered in the cloud – with millions of pixels of extremely high-resolution, uncompressed content with single-digit millisecond latencies delivered to our devices – whether on premises at carmakers or in remote sites, through 5G. Now, instead of having to develop expensive local computing services that would be impossible to run on a battery-operated device, we can use edge computing to scale the rendering power and the business of our industrial-grade VR/MR from thousands to hundreds of thousands of units. Having access to the power of the AWS Cloud, together with 5G’s high bandwidth, low latency, and increased connectivity, is vital to our ability to deliver professional immersive computing experiences and to grow our business.”
“Mapbox is the location data platform for mobile and web developers, providing building blocks to add location features like maps, search, and navigation into any experience and changing the way people move around cities and explore the world. Mapbox tools are used by more than 1.7 million live location developers to power daily experiences for people, technology, and business. “Everyone needs maps, so 600 million people touch Mapbox every month as they read the headlines of the New York Times, check the weather on Weather.com, and find great restaurants or concerts on Facebook,” said Eric Gundersen, CEO and Co-Founder, Mapbox. “Our map gets smarter every time someone touches it, using AI to constantly update traffic and new streets — AWS Wavelength’s ultra-low-latency compute can help us process billions of sensor data updates into better maps by identifying new roads as they’re built, routing drivers around traffic jams, and spotting road construction with the Vision SDK. AWS Wavelength can reduce our refresh timelines from minutes to seconds, delivering Mapbox users a truly living map.”
“SK Telecom, the largest mobile operator in Korea, with nearly 50 percent market share, has been leading the global mobile industry through constant innovations in technologies and services. As a 5G pioneer, SK Telecom is also one of the first telco providers to launch commercial 5G mobile-edge computing (MEC) in collaboration with AWS. “By combining the strengths of SK Telecom’s 5G network and AWS cloud, we are set to bring innovative changes to all individuals, businesses and industries. This collaboration enables exciting use cases like game streaming, headless robotics, Ultra High Definition interactive media, autonomous driving, and smart factories. For example, through the application of AWS Wavelength and SK Telecom’s advanced 5G solutions, a smart factory can enhance the response time of robots performing maintenance, security, and manufacturing tasks, allowing the factory to scale operations without increasing costs,” said Ryu Young-sang, Vice President and Head of MNO Business, SK Telecom. “SK Telecom and AWS are deploying 5G multi-access cloud services at the edge, helping third-party developers and enterprises improve quality of experience, create business models, and accelerate time to market for new revenue opportunities. With SK Telecom’s 5G network, we can jointly develop sophisticated cloud services that can create greater value for enterprises of any size in Korea.”
“Vodafone Group is one of the world’s leading telecoms and technology service providers, with extensive experience in connectivity, convergence and the Internet of Things, as well as championing mobile financial services and digital transformation in emerging markets. Vodafone Business and AWS will provide multi-access edge computing capabilities to developers, Internet of Things (IoT), devices and end users by bringing the AWS cloud closer to the devices that need it, and running AWS Wavelength in strategic locations within Vodafone’s 5G network. “With Europe’s largest 5G network across 58 cities and as a global leader in the Internet of Things (IoT) with over 90 million connections, Vodafone is pleased to be the first telco to introduce AWS Wavelength in Europe,” said Vinod Kumar, CEO of Vodafone Business. “Faster speeds and lower latencies have the potential to revolutionize how our customers do business, and they can rely on Vodafone’s existing capabilities and security layers within our own network.”
“KDDI, a leading telecommunications provider in Japan, offers services that include both mobile and fixed-line communications, and Internet services. KDDI, which plans to launch commercial 5G services in Japan by March 2020, is actively developing its 5G network to enable enhanced Mobile Broadband in both densely populated metropolitan areas and rural areas. “In preparation for our 5G service launch, KDDI has been successfully proving that 5G can be delivered with reliable service quality in Japan in metropolitan and rural locations. We have achieved successful trials, like 5G handovers for high-speed racing cars and trains, a real-time, free-viewpoint video stream at a baseball stadium, and 4K video communication at a major station,” said Makoto Takahashi, President, KDDI. “Having the power of the AWS cloud processing and storage services available at the edge of the KDDI 5G network enables us to accelerate IoT innovation for applications like high-definition VR video streaming, VPS (visual positioning service), smart factories, autonomous vehicles, and more. AWS Wavelength provides Japanese businesses and consumers immediate access to these services over the KDDI 5G network. This will also enable us to address some of Japan’s pressing societal issues, such as revitalizing economies in areas facing population decline, rebuilding infrastructure, and improving prompt reaction to natural disasters.”
The tight coupling of 5G networks with edge computing raises challenging interoperability questions. Currently, it appears that a U.S. end user wanting to use an application that relies on a AWS Wavelength Zone would have to be a Verizon 5G Edge customer with a Verizon 5G end point device. That’s not how we usually think about “the cloud,” which today can be accessed from a wide range of different vendor devices over a wide range of connectivity providers.
At MWC 2019, A&T announced it was working with Microsoft Azure to bring network edge computing (NEC) closer to the end point. We wrote in February 2019 that AT&T is using drones to test the network edge compute capabilities with Azure, working with Israel-based startup Vorpal in its foundry in Plano, TX. Microsoft provided new details of its Azure – AT&T 5G partnership on November 26th:
Microsoft Azure cloud services are being integrated into AT&T network edge locations (closer to customers). This means AT&T’s software-defined and virtualized 5G core – what the company calls the Network Cloud – is now capable of delivering Azure services. NEC will initially be available for a limited set of select customers in Dallas. Next year, Los Angeles and Atlanta are targeted for select customer availability.
That implies if you are an AT&T 5G customer you will, at some point in time, likely have access to Microsoft Azure cloud services via NEC. However, AT&T customers won’t be able to access NEC for any other cloud provider, i.e. AWS, Google Cloud, etc.
Hence, you only get the advantages of edge computing (with much lower latency) if you are locked in to a pair of 5G network and cloud providers that have an edge computing partnership.
And what about roaming or truly mobile, such that a 5G endpoint device (in a train, car, bus, ship, etc) moves from one Wavelength Zone or 5G network to another? Will there be any sort of hand-off between providers and will the 5G device be able to operate on more than the 5G network it subscribed to?
Once again, this issue can only be solved once the complete suite of IMT 2020 standards are finalized and implemented by 5G network operators and endpoint device makers!