Verizon, AWS bring 5G MEC to Boston, Bay Area

Verizon and Amazon Web Services (AWS) are bringing 5G mobile edge compute (MEC) to Boston and the Bay Area. Verizon also announced San Jose as its 36th 5G Ultra Wideband city.

The announcement with AWS comes less than a year after Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg and AWS CEO Andy Jassy announced their partnership during an AWS re:Invent keynote. At that time, they were doing a trial in Chicago. Verizon expects to launch 5G MEC in 10 cities this year.

The service in Boston and the Bay Area uses AWS Wavelength to embed AWS compute and storage services at Verizon’s 5G Edge to enable applications with ultra-low latencies and support use cases that rely on the edge.

According to Thierry Sender, director of IoT and real-time enterprise product strategy at Verizon, they’re enabling the types of use cases that the industry has been talking about for quite some time, and they’re making it happen today. Autonomous industrial equipment, connected cars, smart cities and smart factories, IoT and live and interactive video and game streaming are some of the use cases. 

“When you bring 5G and edge compute together, suddenly the concept of the real-time enterprise at scale is truly possible,” and that’s why this is a game changer, he said.   

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“It’s absolutely addressing the needs of businesses. They’re going through massive transformation today,” he said, noting that was true last year and it’s especially true today. “We’re having great conversations with many of our customers” who want real-time insight into their customers, operations and supply chain.

“You can create the solutions but suddenly now we can do them at a level and scale that were not possible previously,” he said.  

If anything, the pandemic has accelerated the conversations that Verizon is having with customers, according to Sender. “It’s accelerated,” he said, noting that he’s heard colleagues make references to three years of technology advancement happening in just three months. 

While there are challenges to doing things in a physical environment, because this uses the cloud and it’s 5G-based, it makes it easy to roll out solutions to the edge and do testing at various facilities, he said. It’s being done with the non-standalone (NSA) 5G and it will work with 4G as well.

One example of how Verizon’s customers are using MEC is Avesha, which is working with several hospitals to test how machine learning inference done at the edge can assist doctors in identifying polyps in real time.  

In another example, ShotTracker’s system delivers more than 70 unique and autonomous basketball stats and requires millisecond latency to provide teams, broadcasters and others with instant analytics. With 5G and MEC, they’re able to speed up the process and layer more data, stats and analysis for customers in real time.