Vapor IO, Federated Wireless and more launch Kinetic Edge Alliance

Chicago is the first Kinetic Edge city. (Pixabay)

Vapor IO and its partners—including Federated Wireless and MobiledgeX—have launched the Kinetic Edge Alliance (KEA), an industry alliance of software, hardware and networking companies intent on driving the adoption of compute, storage, access and interconnection at the edge of the cellular network.

Other entities in on the action include StackPath and Linode on the deployment side and technical partners Seagate Technology, Alef Mobitech, Hitachi Vantara, Detecon International, Pluribus Networks and New Continuum Data Centers.

The alliance intends to accelerate the rollout of edge computing, delivering a platform for wireless operators and application providers to deliver new edge-enabled products and services to customers. The KEA is starting out by rolling out tower-connected infrastructure for edge computing across the top 30 U.S. metro markets. 

Cole Crawford, founder and CEO of Austin, Texas-based Vapor IO, told FierceWirelessTech that it was very clear early on that there was a need to work with a number of companies in order to tackle the challenges associated with today’s edge. “It takes a village," he said. "It takes a number of companies building this."

It was also important to clearly articulate what the edge was and then build reference architectures for it, Crawford said. Vapor IO, along with Packet, last year published the first Open Glossary of Edge Computing, which is now an official project under The Linux Foundation. The glossary seeks to provide a concise collection of terms related to the field of edge computing.  

Crown Castle is an investor in Vapor IO, but that doesn’t preclude the company from working with other tower companies in the U.S. Crawford said he’d also welcome Tier 1 telcos in the U.S. to join the alliance.

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The alliance has the aforementioned deployment and technical partners, and Federated Wireless, which has established itself in the Spectrum Access System space for Citizens Broadband Radio Service, will be pre-integrating its CBRS controller with the Kinetic Edge, thereby ensuring last-mile wireless connectivity in every one of the alliance’s locations, eventually spanning the entire country.

“This will unleash a tsunami of edge-native and edge-enhanced applications for Private Networks,” said Federated Wireless President and CEO Iyad Tarazi in a press release. “Nothing like this has ever been created before and we're proud to be a part of this movement."

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San Francisco-based MobiledgeX is owned by DT, a Tier 1 operator, but it works with 11 of the Tier 1s globally, said Jason Hoffman, CEO of MobiledgeX. In Europe, “we feel pretty comfortable about what we’re going to do,” from an infrastructure coverage capability perspective, he said. The same goes for Africa, India, China, Japan and Korea, but the U.S. is very different.

Normally, it would go into a market and anchor it with one of DT’s T-Mobile properties, but with the dynamic of T-Mobile acquiring Sprint and always being a pretty infrastructure-light company, MobiledgeX started weighing its options.

With 150 megahertz opening up in the CBRS band, also known as the “innovation band,” that became a sort of cornerstone on how MobiledgeX could meet some of its customers’ needs in the U.S. in 2019, giving it a viable footprint for the types of things it wants to accomplish this year, Hoffman said.

This year, the KEA is focused on the first six Kinetic Edge markets: Chicago, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles and Seattle, with Chicago being the first Kinetic Edge city. Chicago already has two tower-connected sites online, with a third slated to come online later in the first quarter.