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The Edge

Dish Network: The edge is 'everywhere'

Dish Network's Marc Rouanne said that the edge of the company's coming 5G network will sit wherever the company's customers want it to sit.

"The edge is everywhere," he said. "Our customers will be able to decide."

He added that Dish's 5G network will have the ability to move beyond the confines of its own edge and into a customers' private network. Dish, Rouanne added, is developing network functions that will be able to run inside the company's core 5G network, at its central offices, at its tower sites and also inside of customers' own locations.

"We allow our partners to decide where to connect," he said. "We will disaggregate the data all the way down to the edge."

Rouanne made his comments at the virtual VMworld trade show, hosted by VMware. Dish announced recently that its 5G network functions will run inside of the VMware Telco Cloud via a new multi-year agreement between the two companies. Dish officials explained that the move will allow the company to shift its computing needs across public and private clouds, as necessary, while maintaining a cohesive and unified software operation running on top of VMware's platform. VMware will also act as Dish's software gatekeeper, approving the software from other vendors that will run inside of Dish's network.

Rouanne's comments on edge computing are noteworthy considering a wide number of companies in the cloud computing, datacenter and telecom space are hyping the potential of the technology. Indeed, chip vendor Intel recently touted its own work in the edge computing space, citing forecasts that just 25% of all data will be created in centralized datacenters by 2023. The rest will come from factories, hospitals, retail stores, cities and other locations more conducive to edge computing.

Overall, edge computing technologies promise to dramatically reshape the structure of the Internet by moving computing out of massive datacenters and into smaller computing facilities at "edge" locations that are geographically closer to customers. The result, proponents suggest, will be more responsive and potentially more secure services.

Dish is well aware of the opportunities around edge computing. Rouanne previously told Light Reading that the company is moving forward with an edge computing network design, and that Dish has evaluated products and services from a wide range of edge computing vendors.

And Dish isn't the only telecom company investing in edge computing. Verizon, for example, is switching on more sites in Amazon's edge computing service, while Lumen (formerly CenturyLink) is touting new edge computing locations and customers.

At VMworld, Rouanne explained that "we just need to go into listening mode" and see what enterprises need in terms of edge computing and 5G.

At the same VMworld event, VMware's Shekar Ayyar agreed that technologies like 5G and edge computing could significantly change the way business gets done inside enterprises. He said that 5G networks will be run like datacenters, and he said that as a result companies like VMware are bulking up their telecommunications abilities.

"I do see this as a call to action," he said.

VMware isn't alone in that regard. For example, Microsoft, Amazon and Google have all recently unveiled significant business efforts in the telecom space around private wireless networks, 5G and edge computing.

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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