The partnership involves two edge solutions: AT&T Multi-access Edge Compute and AT&T Network Edge with Google Cloud
Last week, AT&T and Google announced an expansion to a 5G and edge collaboration, initiated March 2020, that involved new solutions across AT&T’s 5G and Google Cloud’s edge computing portfolio, including AT&T’s on-premises Multi-access Edge Compute (MEC) solution, as well as AT&T Network Edge capabilities through LTE, 5G, and wireline. To find out more about the partnership and its broader impact on the 5G ecosystem, RCR Wireless News caught up with the carrier’s VP of Strategic Alliances Randall Porter.
“Google is one of our top technology partners,” Porter said. “We have collaborated for a long time from a technology standpoint. In the areas of edge and 5G, in particular, we really got this kicked off about a year ago.”
“This” refers to two edge solutions: AT&T Multi-access Edge Compute (MEC) and AT&T Network Edge (ANE) with Google Cloud. Randall explained that both solutions are now integrated with Google Cloud’s edge computing portfolio, bringing Google’s applications to AT&T enterprise customers. However, MEC is an on-premises solution, while ANE will utilize Google’s public cloud.
“The MEC solution gives flexibility in how businesses manage their cellular traffic through on-premises hardware and software,” Porter explained. “It uses out software defined network to enable faster access to data processing. ANE, on the other hand, delivers public cloud services into the edge of AT&T’s network.”
ANE, he continued, enables the fiber and wireline access side of the network, connecting customers to cloud data centers and targeted metro zone through LTE/5G and wireline network, which delivers the compute power that enterprise customers need without the dedicated, on-premises network hardware required by the MEC side.
AT&T and Google Cloud plan to bring the ANE solution to more than 15 zones across major cities, starting with Chicago this year, with Atlanta, Dallas, Miami and San Francisco next in line.
The companies are also working together to evaluate how network APIs could optimize applications, using near real-time network information at the Google Cloud edge.
According to Porter, these solutions will make possible several use cases — automated inventory management, streaming services, AR/VR applications, contactless applications and more — across a variety of industries, including retail, healthcare, manufacturing and entertainment.
“At the end of the day,” he said,” it’s about how transforming how specific enterprises across different industries and use cases manage their data.”