GSMA throws support behind new edge compute endeavor

Deutsche Telekom HQ
Deutsche Telekom, parent of T-Mobile US, is one of the operators joining forces with the GSMA to develop an edge compute platform. (Deutsche Telekom)

A group of operators are joining forces with the GSMA to develop an interoperable platform to make edge compute capabilities widely and easily available.

The group does not include any U.S.-based service providers but some heavy hitters from around the world: China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, EE, KDDI, Orange, Singtel, SK Telecom, Telefonica and TIM.

It’s unclear exactly how this endeavor compares to the 5G Future Forum, which was launched in January with founding members Verizon, Vodafone, Rogers, KT, Telstra and America Movil. That endeavor intends to create a first-of-its-kind forum to accelerate the delivery of 5G and mobile edge computing-enabled solutions around the world.

RELATED: Verizon and 5 other carriers form 5G Future Forum

As part of Thursday’s announcement, the operators said they have agreed to work together to develop an edge compute architectural framework and reference platform. The GSMA, for its part, has launched an Operator Platform Project to support the initiative. Initially, the platform will be deployed across multiple markets in Europe and then extended to other operators and geographies for global reach.

The Telco Edge Cloud platform will be developed in 2020 and will make operator assets and capabilities, such as latency, compute and storage, available to developers and software vendors so they can fill the needs of enterprise clients.

That sounds similar to what the 5G Future Forum said it plans to do: work on the creation of uniform interoperability specifications, which will help developers create 5G and mobile-edge computing applications. That group also said it will develop public and private marketplaces.

It’s not unusual for multiple associations to converge around seemingly competing projects early in technology cycles, although it would seem to accelerate confusion as well.

Verizon in the past has started technology forums with the intent of jump-starting the industry and moving faster to the end goal, so perhaps that’s in play here. A spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

In 2015, Verizon created the 5G Technology Forum (5GTF) with partners to move the 5G ecosystem forward. It based its initial 5G service launches on that technology and then moved to the 3GPP 5G New Radio (NR) standard when that gear became available.