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AT&T Expands Edge Computing Efforts with Test Zone, Open Source Projects

Release Date:2018-02-23

AT&T on Tuesday announced a pair of steps in the carrier’s ongoing edge computing efforts.

The company launched the first project at its previously announced edge test zone in Palo Alto, Calif., and joined a new open source project focused on edge cloud infrastructure.

AT&T Foundry’s edge computing test zone, first announced last year, is now live with its first project is underway in collaboration with GridRaster. The test zone was established to enable third-party developers and companies to test applications such as self-driving cars, augmented and virtual reality and drones in a next-generation edge computing network environment.

The initial project is focused on testing low-latency network access to cloud computation for enhanced AR/VR experience on mobile devices, according to AT&T. 

The carrier is providing its next-generation, low-latency edge cloud, while GridRaster is bringing the underlying compute and network stack, a combination AT&T said will deliver an AR/VR experience sans the blurry or fragmented graphics often seen on smartphone AR/VR apps today.

“The power of edge computing will ensure consumers have the best possible mobile AR/VR experience,” Rishi Ranjan, CEO and founder of GridRaster, said in a statement. “By moving the processing power to the cloud, and removing the physical distance between your device and the data center, mobile experiences will be dramatically enhanced. The software behind this edge computing test zone will help us get there, faster.”

The zone currently uses a 4G LTE connection, but that will be upgraded to 5G, possibly as early as the end of 2018.

Meanwhile, AT&T also announced it is seeding a new open source project dubbed Akraino. The project, hosted by the Linux Foundation, aims to form a community to improve edge cloud infrastructure for carrier, provider and IoT networks.

AT&T is contributing code created for carrier-scale edge computing applications running in virtual machines and containers.

“This project will bring the extensive work AT&T has already done to create low-latency, carrier-grade technology for the edge that address latency and reliability needs,” Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, said in a statement. “Akraino complements LF Networking projects like ONAP in automating services from edge to core. We’re pleased to welcome it to The Linux Foundation and invite the participation of others as we work together to form Akraino and establish its governance.”

Akraino will provide users with greater levels of flexibility to scale edge cloud services more quickly, maximize the number of applications or subscribers supported on each server and help ensure the reliability of always-on systems. AT&T said the goal of the group is to harmonize the industry in creating an integrated developer platform that speeds up growth and expansion of 5G and IoT applications.

The community expects to release open source project code in the second quarter of this year, according to the Linux Foundation. The project will integrate other existing open source efforts, such as ONAP.

“Akraino, coupled with ONAP and OpenStack, will help to accelerate progress towards development of next-generation, network-based edge services, fueling a new ecosystem of applications for 5G and IoT,” said Mazin Gilbert, VP of Advanced Technology at AT&T Labs.

AT&T first announced it was turning to edge computing last July as part of its effort to build a software-defined network with the ability to achieve single-digit millisecond latency.

Bevin Fletcher

Senior Reporter

@WirelessWeek

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