Edge data centre market sizing

There is much debate in the industry on the topic of edge computing, but little clarity for vendors and potential customers on how much capacity will be available. This article promotes STL Partners’ forecast on the capacity of network edge data centres from 2021-2026.

Edge data centre market sizing forecast

STL Partners has published a forecast that estimates the number edge data centres and their capacity (in terms of number of servers) from 2021-2026, which is a key determinant of the edge computing market size. This currently centres on network edge data centres, which are facilities for edge computing within the telecoms network – mobile, fixed or converged sites. The model focuses on sites that will be owned and operated by telecoms operators and two types of workloads: edge applications and core network functions.

The forecast is available to our Edge Insights Service subscribers, an off-the-shelf research service on all things edge. Updates to the model are published annually, with accompanying reports, and will be shared with subscribers. To subscribe, or simply find out more, feel free to click here to arrange a call with our team.

The model seeks to answer the following key questions:

  • How many network edge data centres will there be in the next 5 years?
  • How are these distributed by country and region?
  • What is the amount of capacity (number of servers) within these edge data centres?
  • How does the type of network the edge data centre primarily sit on impact the number of data centres?
  • What are telecoms operators’ strategies for building out edge data centres?
  • How much of network edge data centre capacity will be taken up by hyperscaler infrastructure?

Below is a limited version of the forecast, redacted but showing the relative outputs from the model. You can select and filter by region using the menu.

The forecast data is based on data modelled for 80 telecoms operators and can be filtered using the following criteria:

  • Type of workload
  • Site location
  • Edge server owner
  • Region
  • Country
  • Telecoms operator

Edge data centre market trends

The accompanying report, Network edge capacity forecast: The role of hyperscalers, identifies some of the key trends within network edge data centre build and telecoms operators’ strategies: 

1. Most network edge data centres will be at the transport aggregation layer
2. Although there were only 106 network edge data centres available globally in 2021, this will accelerate quickly over the next 4 years grow at a rate of 73% (CAGR)
3. Most network edge data centres in 2021 are in North America, however the shift will focus to Asia – in  2026, 26% of network edge sites globally will be in China
4. Telecoms operators see hyperscale cloud providers as key partners in providing edge infrastructure at these sites

Next steps

The edge computing market is an ever-evolving space. This coupled with the parallel changes in the telecoms ecosystem make it an exciting space to watch. STL Partners will continue to update this forecast with the latest information on telcos’ network edge deployments. Future versions of the forecast will include:

• New application domains: RAN network functions
• Network edge data centres provided by non-telcos

Outside of this forecast, STL Partners is adding to its Edge Insights Service, ensuring we publish reports on key topics and incorporate insights through our tools (see an overview of the service below).

STL Partners’ Edge Insights Service

About Tilly Gilbert

Edge computing practice lead

Tilly is a Principal Consultant at STL Partners and the Edge Computing Practice Lead. She has led consulting projects with both operators and technology companies across a number of domains including network automation, edge computing and 5G B2B strategies. She has authored research reports including “Building telco edge infrastructure: MEC, Private networks & vRAN” and “Recovering from COVID: 5G to stimulate growth and drive productivity”. Tilly holds a BA from University of Oxford and an MA from University of Pennsylvania.

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