AT&T: 2020 will be year of the edge

Edge computing can dramatically reduce latency and increase security. (Getty Images)

Similar to rival Verizon, AT&T is all for edge computing, going so far as saying 2020 is going to be the year of the edge.

AT&T said it’s doubling down on edge computing solutions, working with some of its customers to bring edge compute along with 5G to their businesses. Healthcare, manufacturing, drone detection and corporate training are some of the places where it’s being used.

“So going into the new year, we’re calling our shot on how important edge compute is going to be this year. And outlining our strategies to make the most out of it. Because make no mistake: 2020 is going to be the year of the edge,” wrote Mo Katibeh, EVP and chief marketing officer at AT&T Business, in a blog post.

AT&T’s strategy includes building 5G and edge technologies together, and working with cloud service providers to add edge compute technology into its network centers as it’s upgrading them for 5G. Plans call for having edge compute capabilities in more markets by the end of the year, although AT&T didn’t reveal exactly how many it’s targeting.

AT&T said most of its millimeter wave (mmWave) 5G customers have used on-premise edge compute hardware to deploy a private 5G network for their businesses.  

RELATED: AT&T, Microsoft ramp up collaboration on edge, cloud

Of course, AT&T is working with other key players in the ecosystem to give customers what they want. Although AT&T announced a deal with Microsoft last year, it said it's working with cloud companies “across the board” to deliver on the promise of 5G with edge computing.  

“Our entire edge strategy is based around what our customers actually need,” Katibeh wrote. “And solving real problems for them. We’re not building this in a silo. We’re doing everything with customers. We are trying new things. Proving new concepts. Building new capabilities,” including with developers.

“All signs point to 2020 being an important year for the edge,” he concluded. “We’re dedicated to bringing this technology to the forefront of businesses—which is not just going to benefit our business customers, but consumers as well. And now that businesses are starting to understand more of what edge compute can do, the doors are wide open for new ideas on where to go next.”

RELATED: 2020 Preview: Mobile edge computing fuels disruption

At a Citi investor conference in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Verizon Consumer Group CEO Ronan Dunne discussed his company’s relationship with Amazon Web Services (AWS). He mentioned the former CEO of Cisco’s view that 75% of all computing will be done at the edge. There’s an industry trend there, and one of the opportunities is in the ultra-low latency that 5G offers.  

Verizon is teaming with the cloud computing experts, and the infrastructure, importantly, is being deployed inside Verizon’s facilities to facilitate customers. Its first Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) center is in Chicago, where one of the first customers is Bethesda Software, a gaming company that requires low latency and high throughput.

Dunne’s bet is in five years, most stadiums in the U.S. will have a mini Mobile Edge Compute (MEC) network deployed inside their facilities for the fan experience and to deliver new experiences for fans who can’t be in the stadiums. That will create interesting new partnerships with entities like the NFL and other sports like basketball.