Edge computing platform startup MobiledgeX has always been very aggressive about its plans and timeline — it plans, and expects, to very quickly become the de facto underlying middleware technology that will enable applications to run on mobile operator edge computing assets globally.
And, to be fair, the fledgling company, which was spawned by German telco giant Deutsche Telekom little more than a year ago, has not been “all mouth and no trousers,” as us coarse Brits would say: It’s actually done quite a lot in the past 12 months and attracted the attention of a number of operators looking to pin down their edge computing strategies ahead of mass market 5G service availability.
But has it done enough?
Well, it’s certainly still a frontrunner in the race to be the preferred edge enabler for telcos. As we have reported previously, getting in the door first at mobile operators with such edge computing functionality is going to be very important. And to do that you need supporters, reference deployments and some use cases, as well as the functioning and trustworthy technology.
To its credit, MobiledgeX, fronted by CEO Jason Hoffman (for whom the term “carpe diem” appears to have been coined), has made progress on all of those fronts, according to a series of announcements made during the past few days:
- Its Edge-Cloud R1.0 software is now generally available and has been deployed in the Telekom Deutschland live network in Germany, giving developers the chance to trial their applications — particularly augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR) and simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) — at the edge of Deutsche Telekom’s domestic network “in the same way they deploy workloads in the public cloud,” the company says. MobiledgeX claims this is the “world’s first public mobile edge network deployment,” though it should be pointed out that it has been deployed in the network of its parent company, rather than with a less invested partner. DT is, naturally, hosting demonstrations of the deployed edge solution on its booth in Hall 3 at MWC19.
- MobiledgeX’s other main telco supporter, SK Telecom, has been collaborating with the edge startup to develop “a new generation of connected devices, content, and experiences” for some time now and will also be showing off their joint efforts in Barcelona with the help of augmented reality (AR) specialist 1000 Realities. “The computational intensity of 1000 Realities augmented reality glasses software requires a latency of less than 33 milliseconds for operational viability, which is only possible when running on MobiledgeX and SK Telecom’s infrastructure,” according to the partners. “1000 Realities’ software helps industrial workers perform their day-to-day tasks by delivering relevant data depending on where they are and what they are looking at.” That demo should attract those looking for edge computing enterprise use cases.
- Major systems integrator World Wide Technology (WWT) has deployed MobiledgeX’s Edge-Cloud R1.0 software at its Advanced Technology Center (ATC) in an effort to “validate edge infrastructure being evaluated and implemented by the global operator community.” WWT says it will “certify certify solutions capable of fulfilling the requirements of existing and future use cases, usage patterns and device types, while optimizing for utilization and predictable service levels so customers can begin monetizing the solutions on day one.”
- On the Deutsche Telekom stand at MWC19, MobiledgeX will help enable a mixed reality multi-gamer demonstration in collaboration with the German telco, AR gaming specialist Niantic and Samsung (with its new edge app-friendly S10+ device). Visitors to the stand will be able to try out Niantic’s “Codename: Neon” game, made possible by the low-latency connectivity that comes from deploying the edge startup’s system, according to Deutsche Telekom.
Sunay Tripathi, CTO of MobiledgeX, tells Light Reading that “we’re getting close” to agreements with other operators (for trials and collaborations) and that more developers, such as drone companies are “coming forward” to explore the potential of mobile operator edge connectivity.
With DT, there are six locations enabled in Germany with MobiledgeX software “and that will double this year,” notes the CTO. “We’re all ready for prime time,” he boasts.
Being ready is one thing: Getting deployed in the networks of multiple operators is another. And that’s the sticking point currently, as Tripathi admits. “I thought streaming containers was going to be the hardest thing to nail down but our biggest challenge is getting operators on board with the pace of development,” he notes. “We can have a great meeting, agree a bunch of stuff, agree to do joint hacking of code, but then…” it can be months before anything happens, which is frustrating because they have the spectrum and resources and there are companies wanting to try out their applications on the networks.
The other well known and long-standing challenge is the fragmentation of the developer community. “There is a lot of work to be done getting our tools integrated with platforms” such as Unity, which is used by many developers in the gaming world.
So there’s still lots to do but MobiledgeX is making progress and is hoping to attract further operator collaborators through its involvement with the Telecom Infra Project (TIP). “We want to get all the operators to work with us and not have to fund their own developments and [TIP] was a good way to try to do that,” says Tripathi.
And that makes sense, of course, but there’s still a lot of convincing to be done. The MobiledgeX team was hoping to have signed up a lot more public supporters by the start of the Barcelona show, but it might be MWC20 before it’s clear whether the mobile operator community has bought into the DT/MobiledgeX edge vision.―Light Reading