Although many operators acknowledge the opportunities that edge computing brings to their existing and future network, operators move to the edge remains relatively cautious. The uncertain ROI, as well as the varying requirements for different edge nodes, has not allowed most operators to develop a clear strategy towards their edge computing as they keep waiting for stronger demands to take off and proven use cases to be identified.
However, many tier 1 early adopter operators such as AT&T, Vodafone and SK Telecom have taken several steps to establish their edge computing business and enable the market growth. Their strategies can be summarised in the following points.
- Deployment: driving synergy between edge computing and other technologies and network structure in the operator roadmap. Edge computing relates to many essential network upgrades such as 5G, open RAN and the migration to the cloud in addition to enterprise services such as IoT and private networks. Understanding the role edge computing plays in enabling and improving these services supports its business case and helps operators to plan in advance the deployment of and investment in edge within its network in accordance with the overall strategy.
- Platform: exploring platform options from different available partners to select the ones that best meet network and customer requirements. Hyperscaler platforms have become the first choice for many operators recently, but operators’ platform strategies are still evolving as they test and partner with multiple platform providers. Also, the edge standardisation process that many operators are engaged in will impact the platform selection.
- Partnership: collaboration on a wide scale and with a diverse range of stakeholders. Openness to work with other stakeholders helps raise knowledge, improve prospects and reduce risks for different parties. On one hand, partnerships on stack elements such as the platform, hardware and location can reduce the cost and risk for individual stakeholders. On the other hand, co-creating, testing and deploying use cases with partners and sharing the knowledge among the community can promote overall adoption. Furthermore, collaborating on standards can simplify and accelerate wide-scale deployments.
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