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SKT and AWS debut 5G edge cloud service

SK Telecom’s multi-access edge computing service will let enterprises build low latency applications that make use of AWS cloud services

South Korea’s SK Telecom (SKT) has launched a 5G cloud service that supports edge computing workloads through a tie-up with Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Based on AWS Wavelength, which brings AWS cloud services to the telco edge, the SKT 5GX Edge service will enable enterprises to build low-latency mobile applications.

By connecting these applications to AWS Wavelength Zones located at the edge of SKT’s 5G network, application traffic no longer needs to hop through regional sites and the internet, reducing network latency.

Developers can also tap AWS services, application programming interfaces (APIs) and tools to build their applications spanning areas such as machine learning, the internet of things (IoT) and media streaming.

The first AWS Wavelength zone has been deployed in Daejeon in the central region of South Korea and plans are in the pipeline to expand the infrastructure to other areas including Seoul in 2021.

SKT and AWS have been testing the edge computing service since February 2020 with 20 customers, including Woowa Brothers, the operator of food delivery app Baedal Minjok, which is using the service to power its outdoor food delivery robot.

Matt Garman, vice-president of sales and marketing at AWS, said with AWS Wavelength on SKT’s 5G network, enterprises in South Korea can develop “applications that take advantage of ultra-low latencies to address use cases like machine learning inference at the edge, smart cities and smart factories, and autonomous vehicles – all while using the same familiar AWS services, API, and tools to deploy them to 5G networks worldwide”.

Ryu Young-sang, SKT’s president of mobile network operator services, added that by leveraging AWS services and multi-access edge computing, the telco hopes to create and expand innovative business models in the gaming, media services, logistics and manufacturing industries.

Besides SKT, several other telcos in the Asia-Pacific region such as Australia’s Telstra, India’s Bharti Airtel, Japan’s Rakuten and China Mobile are also looking at deploying the telco edge. China alone has over 100 pilot projects underway.

IDC defines the telco edge as infrastructure located near mobile cell sites and regional or local datacentres that are smaller than a traditional datacentre. This creates a heterogenous network of far edge and regional datacentres, enabled by open source and cloud-native technologies as well as industry standards.

By distributing the compute and storage resources into the telco edge, the amount of internet traffic flowing back into cloud datacentres can be reduced significantly, extending the lifespan of a service provider’s network infrastructure.

According to IDC, the telco edge will become an important new source of revenue not only for telcos, but also public cloud suppliers including Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Tencent, Baidu and Alibaba.

Read more about 5G and edge computing in APAC

  • China and Japan will account for the lion’s share of Asia-Pacific’s edge computing market as more organisations in the region look to streamline processes and improve productivity.
  • Amazon Web Services rolls out Outposts in Australia, enabling enterprises to run a consistent version of the AWS platform at locations that require low latency.
  • More edge datacentres will be needed in the Asia-Pacific region to cope with greater adoption of edge computing and IoT when 5G networks are up and running.
  • 5G will account for a fifth of mobile subscriptions by 2025 in Southeast Asia and Oceania, underscoring the keen adoption of emerging technologies in the Asia-Pacific region.
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