Comcast teams with Vapor IO on multi-market edge computing pilotComcast teams with Vapor IO on multi-market edge computing pilot
Targeting a launch in the third quarter of 2023, Comcast and Vapor IO intend to test a range of low-latency edge services in Chicago and Atlanta with third-party providers.
July 18, 2023
Looking to extract a new revenue stream from its broadband infrastructure, Comcast has connected with Vapor IO on a pair of pilots that will test out an array of low-latency edge services and applications.
Initially focused on Chicago and Atlanta, the pilots will enable third-party edge service providers to host data and applications, with a goal of demonstrating "product readiness and identifying opportunities for scaling nationwide," the companies said.
Comcast and Vapor IO didn't say when the pilots might turn into a broader commercial product, but the tests in Chicago and Atlanta are set to get underway in the third quarter of 2023.
The general idea is for Vapor IO, an edge computing specialist that counts Crown Castle among its backers, and Comcast to test out an "anything-as-a-service" (XaaS) approach that takes advantage of low-latency infrastructure at the network's edge. Some of the services envisioned include computer vision, video security, private 5G, edge cloud as well as smart city, smart retail and smart factory applications, they said.
From an architecture standpoint, the pilot will interlink Vapor IO's Kinetic Grid platform, which offers services in 35 markets using Vapor IO's own facilities or those of its colocation partners, with Comcast's existing network infrastructure. That's also coming together as Comcast pushes ahead with an access network upgrade that is distributing elements of its architecture, including new fiber nodes, toward the edges.
"Our extensive network facilities are located in close proximity to businesses across the country and that presents an exciting opportunity to work with Vapor IO, specifically in Chicago and Atlanta, to enable new edge services that take advantage of the low latency and high bandwidth capabilities of our network," Elad Nafshi, Comcast's chief network officer, said in a statement.
Cable starting to size up the edge opportunity
The Comcast-Vapor IO pilot is another sign that the cable industry views edge computing as a growth target.
Another example is Cox Communications, which launched a unit called Cox Edge in mid-2021, offering a mix of edge services focused on sectors such as retail gaming, IoT, healthcare and enterprise IT. But instead of solely focusing on its cable service markets, Cox Edge has also been extended outside the company's cable footprint by working with a mix of infrastructure partners.
Bigger picture, some analysts have been bullish about edge computing's potential as network operators, cell tower owners and cloud computing providers jump in. Omdia, for example, forecasts that the global market for enterprise edge services to reach $116 billion in 2023, climbing to $245 billion by 2027. However, some of that optimism has been tempered a bit by uncertainty about when demand for edge services will rapidly accelerate and the sector will truly mature.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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