Edge Roundup: June 1st — June 7th 2020

Raffi Elliott

Raffi Elliott

Amazon’s “empire” may be threatened by new technologies — SpaceX launches 60 Starlink satellites — Germany & France launch ‘Gaia-X’ platform in a bid for tech sovereigntyAmazon’s “empire” may be threatened by new technologies — SpaceX launches 60 Starlink satellites — Germany & France launch ‘Gaia-X’ platform in a bid for tech sovereignty

While it might not seem like it––with everything else going on––but COVID-19 is still making its way through the planet. It’s still too early to ascertain just how irreversibly the pandemic will alter the future of human communication, but edge computing is continuing to power new ways for us to live, work, study and play. Let’s break it down, shall we?

COVID-19:

Observers have paid close scrutiny to the ways in which the pandemic has shifted global work culture over the last 4 months. We know know which meetings could have been emails, which emails could have been Slack DMs, and which Slack DMs were totally unnecessary. We’re already adapting to remote culture in ways which were not predicted for years to come, but there’s more to it than that.

As Tech crunch’s Danny Crichton wrote in an article last month, the industry is already quickly moving beyond “work-from-home”. Could the future of work in an environment where many big businesses are choosing to keep offices closed be “work-from-anywhere?” On the long-term, “work-from-home” might prove an inaccurate monicker for what’s really happening: modern communication technology is making work truly remote. The future workspace might simply be “flexibility”.

“New workplace flexibility is not about saving money, nor long-term social distancing. In the end, it’s an investment in employee well-being, productivity, and ultimately, profitability”––Danny Crichton, TechCrunch

But the COVID-19 pandemic is doing more than throw a bone to the digital nomad lifestyle. It’s also disrupting many of the tech industries which we had until very recently believed were becoming the new robber barons of the digital age. Al Arabiya’s Nabil Al-Khowaiter points out that while on the surface, Amazon might seem to be pulling out a winner during the pandemic, things might not be so clear under closer scrutiny.

The obvious consequence of pushing people into long-term self-isolation is a fundamental shift in retail, solidifying what analysts had long predicted as the dominance of e-commerce. But who said e-commerce necessarily had to be Amazon-style e-commerce? The other way in which our internet behavior has changed over the course of the pandemic is the rise of video conferencing. But more surprisingly, the two are somehow merging into a new phenomenon known as “Livestream shopping”. AR/VR tech, as well as new familiarity by consumers with teleconferencing might threatens Amazon’s dominance of online retail.

“The problem might be that Amazon has been unwilling to create an independent platform for individual retailers that competes with its own website. In China, however, the world’s biggest ecommerce website, Taobao, empowers small shops, business owners, and self-employed entrepreneurs with a consumer-to-consumer live streaming Alibaba-owned platform that lets users engage using a livestreaming dedicated app.” — Nabil Al-Khowaiter,Al Arabiya News Agency

New technologies could threaten Amazon’s empire

New technologies could threaten Amazon’s empire

Of course, much of this veritable e-revolution in online behavior is being facilitated by herculean efforts by ISPs who have managed to maintain global communication channels open during the worst of the crisis, and despite record-setting online usage.

“Think about it. Without the amazing efforts of CSPs, work would have ground to a halt, students would be cut off from the classroom, and no one would have heard of Tiger King. However, while they rose to the challenge, it also exposed the need for more agility in communications operations, sparking a renewed focus on the need for service transformation.” ––Chris Bauschka, ServiceNow

ServiceNow BrandVoice: Communication Service Providers—The Unsung Heroes Of The Pandemic

ServiceNow BrandVoice: Communication Service Providers—The Unsung Heroes Of The Pandemic

Satellites:

The quest for better, faster, and more reliable internet continues despite the pandemic, by going where no-one has gone before: Space, the final frontier.

Maverick entrepreneur, and podcast marijuana-smoking enthusiast Elon Musk’s SpaceX just launched 60 more satellites destined to be part of his planned Starlink constellation. The Starlink broadband internet satellite system now has 480 units in low Earth orbit. In doing so, the company’s Flacon 9 rocket system also set a new record for reusability.

“[The] launch didn’t include any human passengers, but it did fly that next big batch of Starlink broadband internet satellites, as mentioned. Those will join the other Starlink satellites in low Earth orbit, forming part of a network that will eventually serve to provide high-bandwidth, reliable internet connectivity, particularly in underserved areas where terrestrial networks either aren’t present or don’t offer high-speed connections.” — Darrell Etherington , Tech Crunch

A massive endeavour like this one comes with its own sets of financial and physical challenges:

Elon Musk says the biggest challenge of SpaceX's Starlink internet project is not satellites, but rather 'UFO on a stick' devices users will need to get online

Elon Musk says the biggest challenge of SpaceX's Starlink internet project is not satellites, but rather 'UFO on a stick' devices users will need to get online

Of course, SpaceX isn’t the only company vying for space-internet market dominance. OneWeb, a British satellite venture––which, interestingly enough is going through its own bankruptcy proceedings–– has just filed paperwork with the FCC which would allow it to set up its own network of 48,000 broadband satellites. It’s already got 74 in orbit so far.

“[The dramatic upgrade in plans for the constellation] enables long-term flexibility and ensures we will be ready for the demand, future growth and technology changes to come.” ––Adrian Steckel, CEO, OneWeb

Bankrupt OneWeb files with FCC to put 48,000 broadband satellites in orbit

Bankrupt OneWeb files with FCC to put 48,000 broadband satellites in orbit

5G:

But back on the surface, 5G infrastructure is popping up all over the planet. According to the Chinese Communist Party-run CGTN, China has already installed over 250 thousand 5G base stations.

Meanwhile, the United States now has 5G coverage in all 50 states, with T-Mobile being the first mobile service provider to achieve the milestone. The company proudly made the announcement on June 1st after networks in Washington State and Alaska — the last in the country — went online.

“The massive nationwide 5G network we’re building and expanding by the day — paired with important partnerships like this — extend our 5G leadership over the competition and deliver meaningful 5G experiences to our customers. Now, our customers with 5G devices can keep 5G service when in Alaska. And to GCI customers, welcome to nationwide 5G!” — Neville Ray, president of technology, T-Mobile

T‑Mobile is First with 5G in all 50 States! Customers Get 5G Coverage in Alaska Through GCI Partnership | T‑Mobile Newsroom

T‑Mobile is First with 5G in all 50 States! Customers Get 5G Coverage in Alaska Through GCI Partnership | T‑Mobile Newsroom

Unsurprisingly, 76% of networking executives now believe 5G will be critical to the future transformation of their organization within three years, according to a new survey. To understand how enterprises are adopting advanced wireless technologies such as 5G and Wi-Fi 6, including motivations, challenges and preferences, Deloitte surveyed 415 networking executives in the United States in early Q1. The executives are responsible for connectivity at organizations that are in the process of adopting 5G and/or Wi-Fi 6 or planning to adopt either technology within the next three years. In fact, 86% of networking executives surveyed believe that advanced wireless will transform their organization within three years, and 79% say the same about their industry.

“Innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence, edge computing and cloud are no longer nice-to-haves, but must-haves, for enterprises to truly compete in today’s fast-paced and uncertain world. As the adoption of advanced wireless technologies progresses from pilots to full-scale adoption, networking executives that understand how to use them as a way to unlock the full potential of these emerging technologies will ultimately prevail.” — Jack Fritz, principal, technology, media and telecommunications,Deloitte DigitalLLP

Survey: 76% of executives believe 5G will be 'critical' | Light Reading

Survey: 76% of executives believe 5G will be 'critical' | Light Reading

Across the border in Canada, in a new chapter in the ongoing #HuaweiGate saga, two of the country’s largest service providers, Bell Canada andTELUS, have just ditched the Chinese 5G hardware manufacturer for rivalEricsson. Last week, a Canadian court dealt a setback to Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou as she tries to avoid extradition to the United States to face bank fraud charges.

“There is now equipment certainty and the use of multiple suppliers is an excellent strategy to help stimulate innovation and discipline pricing.” ––Mark Goldberg, telecoms industry consultant

Canadian telcos tap Ericsson, Nokia for 5G gear, ditching Huawei

Canadian telcos tap Ericsson, Nokia for 5G gear, ditching Huawei

Ericsson, it seems, is steamrolling on that sweet, sweet #HuaweiGate action. The Swedish company just pulled a repeat of its achievement in the land of hockey and maple syrup––This time in Germany. Ericsson managed to pull the rug under Huawei again, landing the lucrative O2 core 5G network deal. Currently, the telco serves over 43.7 million people in Germany.

Ericsson’s fortunes in the German market have improved in recent months, with all three carriers pledging to remove or otherwise prohibit Huawei’s equipment from the core infrastructure, effectively limiting competition to just three players, which also include Nokia and Samsung.

Ericsson, it seems, is steamrolling on that sweet, sweet #HuaweiGate action. The Swedish company just pulled a repeat of its achievement in the land of hockey and maple syrup––This time in Germany. Ericsson managed to pull the rug under Huawei again, landing the lucrative O2 core 5G network deal. Currently, the telco serves over 43.7 million people in Germany.

Ericsson’s fortunes in the German market have improved in recent months, with all three carriers pledging to remove or otherwise prohibit Huawei’s equipment from the core infrastructure, effectively limiting competition to just three players, which also include Nokia and Samsung.

“With Ericsson as technology partner for our 5G core network, we can continue to offer our private and business customers the most powerful network technologies at economically attractive prices. The O2 mobile network will become a synonym for digital trust.” — Markus Haas, CEO,Telefónica Deutschland

That's just Huawei it is: Ericsson lands O2 Germany's core 5G network deal

That's just Huawei it is: Ericsson lands O2 Germany's core 5G network deal

Business:

Speaking of Bell Canada, Global colocation giant Equinix will buy a portfolio of 13 data center sites from the Canadian telco for $750 million in cash according to official statements. The transaction had been anticipated since May 11, when Equinix said it was in “advanced discussions” to buy a portfolio of data centers, and announced plans to sell $1.25 billion in stock to fund the deal. The announcement comes amid an accelerated merger and financing environment created by the COVID-19 pandemic, as some companies seek to rapidly complete deals in progress, while others line up financing to ride out the jarring business disruption from lockdowns.

“The acquisition of these 13 strategic assets further extends the depth and breadth of Equinix’s global platform. It will position Equinix as a market leader for data center and interconnection services in Canada, with high-quality assets from coast to coast and a large, diversified ecosystem of Canadian businesses.” -Jon Lin, President, Americas for Equinix

Not to be outdone, the cloud data services company NetApp announced its acquisition of compute management company Spot in the hopes of developing application driven infrastructure, optimizing both public cloud compute and storage costs with its leading platforms.

“In today’s public clouds, speed is the new scale. However, waste in the public clouds driven by idle resources and overprovisioned resources is a significant and a growing customer problem slowing down more public cloud adoption. The combination of NetApp’s leading shared storage platform for block, file and object and Spot’s compute platform will deliver a leading solution for the continuous optimization of cost for all workloads, both cloud native and legacy. Optimized customers are happy customers and happy customers deploy more to the public clouds.” — Anthony Lye, senior VP, Public Cloud Services, NetApp

NetApp to Acquire Spot

NetApp to Acquire Spot

So that’s a wrap on the headlines we found most interesting and worth keeping an eye on in the world of telecommunications. In the meantime, please wash your hands regularly, and if you’re out protesting injustice: wear your mask.

See you next week!