Edge content delivery: The most mature edge computing use case today

This article explores the evolving landscape of edge content delivery and highlights how industry leaders are harnessing its capabilities to unlock new opportunities.

The evolution of the content delivery market

The landscape of content creation and consumption is undergoing significant transformation:

  • Customers are increasingly demanding higher quality video content
  • There is a shift towards more immersive experiences, such as 360-degree videos, which necessitate the use of multiple camera streams
  • An increasingly saturated digital content market is forcing companies to try and differentiate with unique Cx such as more personalised experiences

To fully capitalise on opportunities presented by the evolving content delivery landscape, telcos and content providers need to adapt their content delivery methods and be prepared to cater new and more stringent performance requirements.

One solution that holds significant advantages in meeting these demands is edge content delivery. By combining the capabilities of CDNs with edge computing, edge content delivery offers a powerful solution and is projected to become one of the most prominent use cases for edge computing by 2026.

Figure 1: Forecast of edge use cases, 2026

Source: STL Partners edge computing market sizing forecast


What is edge content delivery?

Edge content delivery is a technology that combines the capabilities of CDNs with edge computing. CDNs are distributed networks of servers located in various geographic locations, designed to deliver content efficiently to end-users by minimising latency and optimising bandwidth usage. CDNs are typically used for storage and caching. Edge computing, on the other hand, enables the CDNs to be distributed even deeper into (particularly the mobile) network. It also includes more compute and processing power than a traditional CDN, making it more suitable for offering dynamic capabilities.

Edge content delivery leverages the capabilities of edge computing to enable additional functionalities. It enables real-time customisation and personalisation based on user preferences and context, resulting in faster, more engaging experiences. With improved performance, scalability, and cost efficiency, edge content delivery meets the demands of high-quality video content.

Figure 2: Edge content delivery will challenge traditional CDN models

Source: Evolution in content delivery: from CDN to the edge and disaggregation

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How can edge content delivery enable a new revenue stream for telcos?

Currently, CDN is primarily used by telcos as a cost-saving measure rather than a direct revenue generator. However, the future holds potential for edge content delivery to become a source of income for telcos. This can be achieved by playing a more active role in operating and managing the (edge) infrastructure themselves. Unlike the current setup where telcos provide power, space, and connectivity while the CDN providers handle the infrastructure deployment and management independently, telcos becoming more involved could pave the way for revenue generation through edge content delivery. In order to do this, telcos will need to more actively work with key ecosystem players including:

1.   Content providers

Telcos can collaborate with content providers such as streaming platforms, media companies, or online video services. Telcos could offer a value proposition based on improved user experiences (such as more optimised content for specific end-devices), reduced buffering, and faster content access, attracting more users to the content platform and increasing viewership.

2.   Advertisers and ad networks

With the capabilities of edge content delivery to offer real-time personalised adverts, telcos can collaborate with content providers and advertisers to offer targeted advertising capabilities. Content providers, as direct customers of telcos, have control over when advertisements are placed within their programs. Advertisers, on the other hand, are likely to work with content providers to determine the timing of ad placements. By leveraging user data and the low-latency capabilities of edge content delivery, telcos can deliver personalised adverts in real-time, aligning with user preferences and context.

3.   Standards bodies and alliances

To play a more active role in content delivery, telcos will need to be able to provide a consistent and global solution for content providers. In order to do this, telcos will need to collaborate and deliver based on common standards. Key industries bodies, such as the Streaming Video Technology Alliance, are helping to drive this commonality and bring together all those in the industry.

Below are examples of key players who have monetised their edge content delivery offerings.


Qwilt’s Open Edge Cloud solution uses edge computing to create an architecture that optimises network capacity, enables cost-effective scalability and enhances streaming content quality from the edge. For their solution, Qwilt has partnered with a number of telcos notably including Telefonica and Bharti Airtel.


A cloud agnostic provider of content delivery and edge computing services, StackPath aims to challenge cloud providers by building out edge compute locations and forming strategic partnerships. One of its notable partnerships is with Cox Communications, enabling the delivery of edge-related services and infrastructure-as-a-service offerings. StackPath plans to expand its presence globally and empower service providers, enterprises, and media and gaming companies.

Varnish Software

Varnish Software provides powerful content delivery solutions which span both video and application / web content. With a strong open source developer community and enterprise customers, Varnish has experience handling a range of use cases which could be valuable for telco partners. Their software only approach also could work well for telecoms operators looking to run and manage the infrastructure themselves. This ensures that telcos have control and visibility rather than having black box CDN deployments in their network sites.

Ela Eren


Ela Eren


Ela Eren is a Consultant at STL Partners, specialising in sustainability and telco cloud.

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