Edge computing boosting telecom opportunities

Blog series: Telecom trends 2021

  Sean Sullivan

Sean Sullivan

National Telecommunications Industry Leader, KPMG US

+1 303-296-2323

John McMillan

John McMillan

Director Advisory, Digital Lighthouse, KPMG US

+1 470-351-4300

Edge computing offers telco operators a strategic opportunity to provide advanced network connections and services leveraging their technology expertise to move up the value chain and generate more revenue. 

Today, we live in a data-rich world that continues to expand and evolve. As new technologies such as 5G, Internet of Things (IoT), wearables and assisted reality (AR) create vast amounts of data, there is an increasing interest and need for edge computing. 

With so much more data to be processed, companies are desperate to expand their systems to accommodate new ways of operating their businesses and looking for new technologies to manage them.

Edge computing shifts processing and storage away from centralized data centers and embeds those capabilities closer to users. This paradigm provides compelling opportunities for telcos to extend their role beyond network and connectivity services, and move into the application and platform space.

Beyond the Cloud

Many industry experts predict edge computing will continue to develop and could soon become the future of business transformation in companies globally, despite cloud computing’s current prominence.

The typical infrastructures companies have in place today to cope with new technology demands cannot keep up with the demands being placed on them. The massive volume of data being generated by industries, as well as consumers, is straining the bandwidth of today’s networks.

Edge computing can support this challenge by processing data closer to where it is generated, which relieves the strain on the cloud, thus freeing up the cloud for more general-purpose business needs and enabling applications to perform better.

Implementing edge applications reduces the volume of data that must be transferred, the traffic that results from those transfers, and the distance the data must travel. This new method of processing data dramatically reduces the lag time between the point of collection of data and the actual processing. 

Although this may be unnoticeable in most use cases, it can be essential in time-sensitive applications such as in healthcare or autonomous vehicles where lag time can be consequential.

Telco advantages

Telco providers’ traditional strengths in network design and management position them well to assume market leadership in 5G networks and edge computing. As telcos deploy new infrastructures to handle this traffic explosion, enterprises will require technology partners with this expertise to help them manage the complexities of an edge computing infrastructure.

That said, telcos face tough competition from other market players such as cloud providers moving rapidly to define their share of the edge marketplace. In addition, industrial solution providers are investing in edge services. Together, these competitors will require telcos to highlight their expertise in helping enterprises address technical and business challenges with 5G-powered edge computing networks.

Telcos that fail to develop a strategic approach to edge computing in a timely fashion could risk losing their share of the growing market as providers in other sectors dictate market dynamics.

Faster network speeds and more agility will only be the start of 5G’s benefits, and the telcos that act quickly will be better able to position themselves to enable IoT, AR/VR, robotics and other edge computing services to enterprises and consumers.