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AWS Wavelength Now Generally Available

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AWS has recently made AWS Wavelength zones in San Francisco and Boston available to provide a subset of their computing services on Verizon datacenters. The new zones will allow developers to build applications that can benefit from the ultra-low latency of the mobile carriers.

Last December the CEO of Verizon showed at AWS re:Invent in Las Vegas how 5G telecommunication providers can embed AWS hardware and software in their datacenters. Nine months later, the first two Wavelength Zones opened in San Francisco and Boston. This allows developers to run 5G applications with limited latency and without leaving the mobile network. Applications and devices running on 4G networks can also benefit from ultra-low latency, having the compute infrastructure co-located within the mobile network. 

Only a small subset of EC2 instance types and classes are available for edge workloads: t3.medium, t3.xlarge, r5.2xlarge and g4dn.2xlarge. Developers can create EBS volumes and run Amazon EC2 Auto Scaling, Amazon EKS clusters and Amazon ECS clusters to manage their instances and Kubernetes clusters. Other AWS services, like Lambda, RDS or DynamoDB, are not available on the edge of the mobile network. To start a workload on Wavelength Zone, a new subnet has to be added to an existing or new Virtual Private Cloud (VPC). The instances in the edge datacenter can then connect securely to the parent AWS region and to backend services that cannot be run inside the 5G networks, for example a managed database or storage on S3.

Currently Wavelength is available only on Verizon infrastructure but AWS is working with Vodafone, SK Telecom, and KDDI to expand it to datacenters in South Korea, Japan and Europe by the end of the year.

Image source: https://aws.amazon.com/wavelength

Amazon is not the only cloud provider offering compute and storage services at the edge of the 5G network. Google Cloud recently signed an agreement with Telefonica Spain, one of the largest mobile network providers in the world, to launch a cloud region in Spain that will leverage the carrier infrastructure in Madrid. In partnership with different worldwide carriers, Microsoft expanded Azure Edge Zones to focus on 5G latency critical workloads. 

While discussing machine learning inference, Mike Coleman, senior developer advocate at AWS, writes:

One of the key benefits of 5G and Wavelength is significantly lower latencies compared to previous generation mobile networks. For edge applications, this implies you can actually perform inference processing in a Wavelength zone with near real-time responsiveness to the mobile device. By moving the inference processing to the Wavelength zone, you reduce power consumption and battery drain on the mobile device.

Shanky Viswanathan, CTO Communication, Media and Information Service Business Group at Tata Consultancy Services, shows in a video on how smart factories can improve quality control thanks to the reduced latency of 5G networks.  But not everyone is convinced of the benefits for the mobile carriers. As Iain Morris writes on Light Reading:

The news may trouble those perennially worried operators are ceding ground to Internet companies (...) Alarmists will see the partnership as another sign that operators are being driven into the connectivity backwoods of the 5G business.

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