Will carriers use 5G to provide edge services?

5G wireless can be used as dumb-pipe transport for data, but providers could build new services such as edge computing on top of it and sell them to enterprises.

5G mobile wireless network

US mobile carriers see an opportunity to broaden their role in the enterprise marketplace as the rush to deploy 5G continues, but it’s unclear whether their strategy will be sufficient to achieve that goal, according to industry analysts.

Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile are cornerstones of America’s Internet infrastructure, but their role has been largely restricted to data transport for most of their history. The provide data pipelines, but efforts to monetize their networks beyond the simple provision of transport for other companies’ data have met with mixed success, at best.

“If you put yourself in the network operator’s shoes, you’re talking about a huge [capital expenditure] ] for implementing 5G,” said Christian Renaud, research director of 451 Research’s IoT practice. “They’re trying to accelerate the curve by appealing to the enterprise.”

5G features support new services

That appeal is based on new technology in 5G, according to IDC senior research analyst Patrick Filkins. One in particular, network slicing, can divide a single connection into multiple virtual connections, each providing different resources tailored to customer need. Another, network-exposure functionality, streamlines APIs to network services to simplify creating new services. These could allow carriers to offer highly specific access to their networks in much the same way that a cloud service offers parts of its platform to allow customers to build applications.

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