Amazon Web Services (AWS) re:Invent wrapped up last week in Las Vegas. There was a lot to digest at the event, but my firm’s principal Patrick Moorhead captured five key takeaways. If interested, you can find his article here. What caught both our attention was the AWS Wavelength announcement and partnership with Verizon in the United States, Vodafone in Europe, KDDI in Japan, and SK Telecom in South Korea. I would subsequently like to share my insights as to why this is a significant offering for mobile operators globally.
What is Wavelength?
Wavelength layers in AWS compute and storage inside a 5G network enhancing the efficiency of the infrastructure deployment. From my perspective, the biggest game changer in moving from 4G LTE to 5G mobile networks is latency. Anticipated 5G sub-5 millisecond response times will open up a host of tactile applications ranging from consumer mobile gaming and AR experiences to autonomous driving, factories, and smart cities among other compelling use cases. AWS Wavelength takes things a step further by placing resources at the network edge. This not only reduces latency further but also “supercharges” software developers with powerful resources to develop next generation 5G applications and services that are more power-efficient and performance-optimized. Verizon is an ideal carrier to partner with AWS given my personal experience at the Verizon Alley facility in Chelsea. On my visit, they shared an anecdote related to inviting a number of mobile game designers to use a pre-NR 5G test bed for a hackathon. Participants came away with a new-found appreciation for what 5G facilitates from a latency and throughput perspective in providing improved coding flexibility. Less time spent there equates to more time on the creative aspects of game development.
Where are the other U.S. operators?
Absent from the announcement in the United States were AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint. In July, AT&T announced a similar partnership with Microsoft Azure positioned as a multi-year alliance to further joint development efforts around cloud, AI, and 5G. I’m impressed with AT&T’s focus on edge and 5G as I had the opportunity in October to visit their Foundry lab in Tel Aviv. However, I would venture to guess that AT&T will also embrace Wavelength given the dominance of AWS’s cloud footprint. T-Mobile and Sprint are likely distracted in closing their state AG lawsuit this week as the last hurdle in regulatory approval for their union. I also suspect that Wavelength will be a serious consideration when they are able to focus on post-merger alliance opportunities.
AWS continues to impress me with a relentless focus on driving continued value for its cloud services platform as it turns to the telco industry with Wavelength. The ramifications for Cisco Systems, Dell EMC, and HPE could be significant in thwarting their efforts to capitalize on opportunities tied to 5G multi-billion-dollar deployments occurring around the globe. Each of these technology heavyweights have made significant investments in optimizing their IT solutions for the service provider market, but the battle is on with AWS Wavelength.