Telstra Collaborates with China Unicom, KT, and Telefonica to Co-Develop Edge Computing Platform

A. Amir

Summary Bullets:

• Joining the collaboration enables Telstra to accelerate its edge computing strategy and expand the service globally.

• Telstra could consider partnering with the hyperscalers to provide wider cloud options for edge computing applications and offer differentiated services.

Edge computing is picking up its momentum globally with various announcements by telcos and cloud providers in recent months. Google announced Anthos for Telecom, Global Mobile Edge Cloud (GMEC), and a partnership with AT&T last week. AWS launched Wavelength (AWS compute and storage within Verizon’s 5G network) in December 2019 and announced partnerships with Verizon and Vodafone in the same month.

On February 27th, nine European and Asia-Pacific telcos (China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, EE, KDDI, Orange, Singtel, SK Telecom, Telefonica, and TIM) announced collaboration to co-develop an interoperable edge computing platform with the support of the GSMA through its Operator Platform Project. A week after the announcement, Telstra signed an MoU to join China Unicom, KT, and Telefonica in the initiative. The initial phase of the collaboration focuses on the development of edge computing capabilities and platform interoperability across different networks and geographies. The next stage will include the development of mobility use cases across borders and federation capabilities.

Competitive Positives

Telstra started its edge computing initiative about a year ago through a partnership with Ericsson to co-develop use cases for the financial sector in Australia. Joining the other telcos in the GSMA-supported collaboration marks another milestone in this journey. The collaboration enables Telstra and partners to accelerate the development of their platform by leveraging existing technology solutions from the other telcos (e.g., Deutsche Telekom’s MobiledgeX BU which supports edge-solution marketplace), and access to the wide ecosystem (e.g., 100-plus developers actively working on edge-enabled use cases). Monetization would not happen without third-party developers.

The GSMA platform will also support cross-border interoperability across multiple telcos in different countries. This will enable Telstra to extend its low-latency service (e.g.,mobile unified communications, real-time data collection in fleet management, factories or smart cities) beyond the Australian market. This could include KDDI in Japan orTIM in Italy. This will also provide Telstra with a competitive advantage against some other global carriers and local telcos which still focus on edge computing in the domestic market.

What’s Next

Apart from joining the initiative, Telstra could consider extending its current partnerships with the hyperscalers beyond current initiatives for direct connect and managed services, to co-develop edge computing use cases and explore wider market opportunities. This will enable Telstra to offer wider cloud options for its ultra-low latency applications to customers, and open up new opportunities with a multi-cloud strategy. For example, customers get to choose their preferred cloud provider for an edge-computing application offered by the carrier, and benefit from services orchestration via an edge to cloud strategy. Coupled with 5G network slicing, Telstra could also offer tiered cloud services based on latency to address the diverse demand of enterprise applications, e.g., edge computing for autonomous vehicles, AR/VR, or robotics while the standard cloud deployment (centralized hosting in cloud data centers) would be used for other non-critical applications to deliver a multi-cloud strategy.

Edge computing is still new and the ecosystem is still shaping up. Having an early roadmap will give Telstra the first-mover advantage in the market. This will also enable the carrier to retain its leadership domestically and potentially strengthen its portfolio abroad. With its own 5G infrastructure and other network assets, Telstra could also use the edge computing proposition to compete against the non-telco providers, as it expands its portfolio in a managed service market.


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