Long distance relationships can be tough. Delayed communication can make you feel like you’re not in sync with what’s important. It’s true of people. And it’s true of networks.

Think about new connected applications like self-driving cars, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) and robotic manufacturing. They can’t be at their best when it takes a moment too long to send messages back and forth across the network. Even a few extra milliseconds can mean the difference between seamless, instant interaction and something that just doesn’t feel right.

To fix that disconnect, we’re embracing edge computing. We’re moving network access to cloud computation, but we’re keeping it physically close to our users. Rather than travel over wireless connections to data centers hundreds or thousands of miles away, we’ll propel this data across super-responsive 5G networks to computers just a few miles away.

What edge computing does for you

One of the benefits of edge computing is that you can reduce the workload on your mobile device or eliminate the need for a wired connection to a separate computer while still getting a high-end experience.

Consider augmented reality. Today, many AR applications either strain the processor on your phone, or require a wired connection to a nearby computer to deliver the best possible experience. Edge computing moves that processing to the cloud. You can get a high-end experience without being tethered to bulky equipment. And the geographic proximity and low-latency network access to a future 5G connection will mean the images will feel as responsive as if they were being created directly on your phone. Likewise, self-driving cars will require enormous computing resources. What if we could move some of that out of the car, saving weight and expense, and into the edge cloud?

What the future holds

We’ve committed to launching mobile 5G this year. Edge computing is key to our 5G strategy. Today, we announced two initiatives to help make the edge a reality:

  • Launch of Palo Alto edge test zone and collaboration with GridRaster We said last year that we’d launch our first test zone for edge applications at our AT&T Foundry innovation center in Palo Alto. That test zone is now live, and we’re launching our first project with GridRaster to create a software platform for enhanced AR/VR experiences on mobile devices. This project will give us the tools to start building AR/VR edge applications.

  • Akraino We’re creating an open source project, hosted by The Linux Foundation, and inviting the community to join us in expanding the development of next generation zero-touch edge cloud infrastructure for carrier and enterprise networks. Together, we aim to harmonize the industry in creating an integrated developer platform that accelerates growth and expansion of 5G and IoT applications.

Just as we did with software-defined networking and artificial intelligence, we’re leading the effort to build open-source platforms and tools that will make edge computing successful for everyone. That’s how we can all stay seamlessly connected, no matter what we’re doing or where we go.

Melissa Arnoldi - President, Technology and Operations at AT&T

Melissa Arnoldi
Melissa Arnoldi CEO, Vrio Corp