Telco edge computing data centres: 3 approach factors

Telecoms operators want to build their network edges where there is demand. In other words, where there is a sufficient number of end-users or customers that will benefit from the capabilities that come with edge.

In general, the approach has been to create a plan for a network of edge data centres that guarantees a maximum level of latency for a certain level of population coverage. In interviews with operators, this has often ranged from 90-99% of the population experiencing sub-10 to 20 millisecond roundtrip latency for applications hosted at their network edge.

The resultant number of edge data centres will therefore be impacted by the spread of the population, the size of the country and the telecoms operator’s network topology. For example, in well connected, small countries, such as the Netherlands, low latencies are already achievable.

The actual number of sites and speed at which a telecoms operator deploys these sites is driven by three main factors:

  1. Edge computing strategy;
  2. The speed at which it has or will deploy 5G (if it is a mobile operator);
  3. The country’s geographic profile.

3 key factors determining a telco’s approach and timing for its edge computing data centres 

Source: STL Partners

STL Partners’s forecasting capacity of network edge computing 2021 to 2025 details a forecast of the capacity available for non-network applications at the network edge over the next five years. Network edge capacity is forecast to build slowly reach an inflection point in 202X and although edge does not need 5G, it is certainly helping drive the market. Telecoms operators also see hyperscalers as key partners in helping to bringing compute and storage to the edge.

There is much debate in the industry on the topic of telco edge computing, but little clarity for players within the telecoms industry and potential customers on how much capacity will be available.

STL Partners Edge Insight Service

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). If you have any questions you would like to discuss with us, or any suggestions for what we should be covering, please contact the lead analyst on edge computing, Ahmed Ali (

STL Partners’ Edge Insights Service

Source: STL Partners

STL Partners telco edge computing coverage