5G MEC gives Verizon an edge with enterprise – CEO

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Verizon has private 5G MEC capabilities with Microsoft and AWS. (Getty Images)

Verizon aims to utilize its 5G network build for mobility, fixed wireless access and mobile edge compute, and a head start on the latter gives it a leg up when it comes to enterprise, according to CEO Hans Vestberg.

The enterprise segment is one Verizon, among other carriers, is targeting as a way to make money from 5G network investments. However, at a Goldman Sachs investor event Tuesday, the firm noted that historically enterprises haven’t tapped mobile networks. Vestberg was asked about the long-term opportunity and what kind of use cases come up in conversations with CIOs.  

Vestberg first called out private networks, where licensed cellular spectrum would replace unlicensed Wi-Fi and commercial 5G devices operate within that dedicated location.

“Think about it as substituting Wi-Fi,” he said of private 5G networks. “Because of the security, the throughput, and the speed and latency, that would be the reason.”

The second are use cases that center around mobile edge compute (MEC), which Verizon first deployed roughly two years ago and is still the only carrier with a commercial 5G MEC offering.

RELATED: Verizon turns up private 5G edge compute with Microsoft Azure

A private network product incorporating the Microsoft Azure Stack Edge cloud computing platform became available for enterprises just last month. AWS expanded its public MEC relationship with the carrier to include private network applications earlier this year.

“We’re the only ones to bring processing and compute to the edge of the network for new use cases,” be it manufacturing or logistics, Vestberg said. He added that the carrier is essentially talking to all industry leaders across enterprise segments, where mobile edge compute use cases are part of the conversation.

Vestberg also highlighted the partnerships with cloud players AWS and Microsoft for public and private  MEC instances.

“All in all, we are creating a market where nobody else is right now,” he said. And the 5G network was designed with delivery of mobile edge compute capabilities in mind, something Vestberg suggested isn’t easy to decide to pursue after the fact.

RELATED: Verizon's SVP of enterprise talks NaaS, fixed wireless, private MEC

While the carrier has had success with enterprise customers in the past, he called 5G and MEC a “dramatic change” for corporations that can now tap dedicated spectrum and buy equipment themselves.

“It’s new model where we are much more entrenched with our customers but also offering a totally different service,” he said, citing about a two-year head start on mobile edge compute. “And it’s going to be a land grab because it’s a very different model where we’re going to serve our customers with our licensed spectrum.”

Verizon acquired 161-megahertz on average of nationwide mid-band C-band spectrum earlier this year, and as of 2020 had more than 2,000-megahertz of high-band mmWave for 5G. Verizon also scooped up priority access licenses (PALs) in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) 3.5 GHz band.

RELATED: Verizon CEO tips C-band to boost its MEC play

High-band mmWave is offered as part of its 5G private network product that debuted in June for U.S. enterprise and public sector customers. Over the summer Vestberg pegged upcoming C-band rollouts to help speed adoption of MEC capabilities and unlock an expected multi-billion mobile edge compute market.

How enterprises ultimately opt to leverage Verizon resources is still part of current discussions with customers, he noted Tuesday.

“We’re going to see what ultimate model it’s going to be,” Vestberg said. “Are they going to buy the equipment to run inside and maintain it, or will they buy capacity from us.”