AT&T announces private edge computing with Microsoft
BARCELONA, Spain – AT&T has been at the forefront of deploying private cellular networks for businesses, universities, and the public sector for years now. The needs and demands of those customers are always evolving, though, and we're upgrading with them. We're now looking to bring private 4G/5G wireless networks as an integrated platform with connectivity and applications to enable low-latency services at the edge. We are including the valuable ability to roam beyond the geographical boundaries of the AT&T private network and still stay connected through the AT&T public network. We call it AT&T Private 5G Edge. Currently under development with Microsoft, the service is using Azure private MEC to help deploy these private wireless networks rapidly across radio spectrums, including CBRS.
We know organizations are still learning what these technologies are, how they can help their operations, and what it takes to get them up and running. For the new AT&T Private 5G Edge, we're working closely with those customers to understand their needs, challenges, and aspirations when it comes to private cellular networks and edge computing. AT&T Private 5G Edge is ideal for companies and organizations where private networks need to be simple, flexible, and easy to use.
Simpler, Faster, More Reach AT&T is teaming up with Microsoft at the forefront of edge computing to address those concerns. We want to make it simpler and faster for organizations of all shapes and sizes to get their private edge networks up and running, with reach that extends across the U.S. A feature we are working on for AT&T Private 5G Edge is the ability to roam off these private networks but still stay connected via AT&T's U.S. public mobile network. For example, a hospital might use its private network to precisely track ventilators, wheelchairs, and other critical items in its building. But if a ventilator gets loaned to another hospital, our roaming capability could ensure that machine always remains accounted for even outside the private network.
AT&T Private 5G Edge is designed to be an integrated platform providing connectivity and embedded applications through a single platform with the use of CBRS spectrum and/or AT&T spectrum where needed to meet customer requirements. We are looking to provide high-end computing and graphical processing power with the 5G network through a self-install capability.
What's It For? It's early days, and we're talking to customers in different vertical markets to figure out together how this technology can best be applied. Some early potential use cases:
- Manufacturing – Cameras and AI tools can assist in everything from robotic assembly to "event detection" – such as when a worker has been injured or a fire has started – and then alert first responders or activate fire suppression systems almost instantly.
- Car dealership – A car manufacturer can create a dedicated cellular network within a dealership to help buyers manage the setup process for vehicle diagnostics and other connected features, rather than tying up the dealership's wi-fi network.
- Medical clinic – Video sensors with embedded AI could be quickly deployed at pop up locations to monitor patients for fevers just based on their appearance without requiring a staffer to test them manually.
Moving from wi-fi to dedicated and secure 5G connections with edge computing capabilities opens possibilities in retail stores, manufacturing plants, restaurants, schools, and more.
With AT&T Private 5G Edge, we want to enable those IoT capabilities without requiring complex setup or valuable floor space. It's flexible and expandable, so customers can start testing and experimenting with modest investments and deployments.
This new service complements Azure Edge Zones with AT&T, which we created with Microsoft and that is based on AT&T Network Edge. Together, Azure Edge Zones with AT&T and AT&T Private 5G Edge form a powerful foundation on which businesses and other customers can test, build, and deploy the next generation of 5G apps and services through public and private mobile networks.
How are we building AT&T Private 5G Edge? We're collaborating with Microsoft to develop and launch AT&T Private 5G Edge for customers. Our goal is to make it as simple as possible for customers to install and operate the private 5G network and the edge compute equipment.
What's available now? When will AT&T Private 5G Edge launch? We will share more details on the roadmap later this calendar year.
"With AT&T Private 5G Edge, we are enabling customers to create and deliver innovation faster – with simplicity, flexibility, security, and high-speed wireless connectivity. This solution opens the door to entirely new applications and use cases we haven't even imagined yet. The combination of 5G and edge compute can utterly transform how businesses are run, no matter the size, and we're proactively engaging with those businesses to identify the right compelling opportunities. Our collaboration with Microsoft is exciting because it combines technology with an adaptable business model and brings innovation to life – for any customer." – Rupesh Chokshi, vice president product strategy and innovation, AT&T Business.
"Secure private 5G networks enable organizations to deliver latency-sensitive applications. Together with Microsoft, AT&T is streamlining the integration of the multiple elements private wireless solutions require, simplifying the application creation environment and accelerating the speed of deployment." – Tad Brockway, corporate vice president, Azure for Operators at Microsoft
"Since the RELLIS 5G project has kicked off, we have received requests from all 11 universities within the Texas A&M University System asking us how they too can have a 5G network for their own 5G testbeds. The existing solutions have been too large of scale and too complex to even consider deploying broadly. AT&T Private 5G Edge would give us a scalable solution whether we need a quick setup for a mobile command center, Internet of Things (IoT) sensor backhaul, or even an XR testbed. This could help prepare students for future careers ranging from programming interactive virtual reality, to building artificial intelligence robotic devices, to designing new types of wearable tech." – Bradley Hoover, chief information officer, The RELLIS Campus, The Texas A&M University System