ARTICLE

Your wireless carrier is key to your edge computing strategy.

Success at the edge requires an advanced mobile network.

The challenge

Build an effective edge computing strategy.

More and more data processing, storage, and analytics are taking place at the edge of corporate networks, as companies build edge computing strategies to deliver services more quickly and effectively to their end users and customers.

Edge computing is undoubtedly a fast-growing market. A 2018 Grand View Research study found the worldwide edge computing market is projected to reach $3.24 billion by 2025, expanding at a compound annual growth rate of 41% during the forecast period.
 

What is edge computing?

Through edge computing, functions such as processing and analytics are performed where the data is generated, which helps enhance user experience and increase productivity. The less distance data has to travel, the less latency that can cause annoying delays for users. And when processing occurs closer to the source of data, users like data scientists and business analysts can more easily and quickly gain real-time insights from that data.

According to IDC, edge computing is one of the top areas of IT investment today, especially given the expected growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), with the biggest drivers for edge computing strategies being the need for faster transaction times, customer demands for better performance, and plans to deploy IT assets in customer locations to deliver new digital services.

The right network

The key to building your edge computing strategy is finding the right wireless network.

Among the most important components of edge computing are the wireless networks that make it possible for companies to gather or share data from devices such as sensors, commercial products, vehicles, and other connected objects. Because of that, one of the biggest decisions when building an edge computing strategy for your business is selecting the best possible wireless carrier.

When evaluating wireless providers, you should consider several factors, all of which are important to the success of edge computing initiatives. Here are a few of the key areas to examine:
 

Network speeds.

Business users need real-time access to data to generate fast responses that can make all the difference in a transaction. That means the network being used must be able to support the fastest speeds possible. If network speeds are sluggish, the result will be poor user experience, decreased productivity, and dissatisfied customers.

Consider whether your wireless provider is offering speed-boosting technologies such as:

  • Carrier aggregation: combines multiple operating frequency bands into one data channel to enhance data capacity
  • 4X4 MIMO (multiple input multiple output): increases peak data rates as more independent data streams are used
  • 256 QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation): a complex modulation scheme that greatly boosts transmission rates.

 

Ask carriers whether they are deploying a growing number of cell sites to deliver fast speeds and cut down on network congestion in overworked areas. And then ask what the carriers’ plans for delivering 5G are.
 

Reliability and availability.

The only thing worse than slow access to data is no access to data—network reliability and availability are crucial when looking to build an edge computing infrastructure. Your business needs consistently reliable and far-reaching wireless network coverage, so your users and external customers are always able to access the computing resources they need.

T-Mobile is already preparing for the 5G era and fitting cell towers with new radio equipment. That capability enables us to roll out network upgrades and increase bandwidth with a simple software update rather than having to refit towers and interrupt your service.

The right solutions & support

Data security, customer care, IoT, and more.

The edge of the network has its own set of cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities, including those associated with data and connected devices.

Ensuring the security and privacy of data is extremely important, so consider whether your wireless carrier uses the latest technologies to protect networks against intrusions such as hacker attacks.
 

Customer service and support.

Issues inevitably arise with endeavors such as edge computing, so having easy and dependable access to customer service and support is crucial. Your wireless carrier should have an enterprise-grade service and support infrastructure in place, including customer service representatives and a team of experts who can be reached at any time.

Key questions to ask in this area are: what sort of help desk functionality does the carrier have, how much does it cost, and what services are included? Is there support for hardware, such as configuring and troubleshooting Wi-Fi routers or support for applications such as setting up cloud storage and troubleshooting issues with multiple software applications?
 

Breadth of services.

Established wireless carriers should provide an array of services, many of which come into play with edge computing initiatives.

These types of services should include mobile device management (MDM), with software that can help secure a company’s mobile workforce and enable users to be more productive. Some carriers integrate MDM applications with their business service and will provide advisors to help you understand device management and productivity options, as well as help select solutions that meet your specific needs.

Some carriers also offer solutions that leverage artificial intelligence, with endpoint management tools to help protect data by better managing smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, wearables, and IoT devices.
 

Corporate stability.

Something else that’s important to consider when selecting a wireless carrier is the stability of the business. How long has the company been operating in its markets and what sort of market share does it have?

From a financial perspective, research whether the company is growing in terms of revenue, the number of customers, network size and coverage areas, and devices supported. What’s the outlook for future growth and the further expansion of the wireless network?

Other factors to look at are the company’s track record in delivering service, including availability and reliability, and any awards received in a variety of business and consumer categories.
 

IoT Readiness.

One of the focal points of edge computing is emerging IoT solutions, which involve the connection of countless numbers of devices, products, assets, sensors, facilities, and more. IoT is among the biggest contributors to the growing emphasis on the edge. The huge volumes of data generated by IoT devices will likely add to latency problems, according to Grand View Research.

Companies like yours should anticipate the need to gather and analyze massive amounts of IoT data and support new customer-facing workloads for line-of-business managers.

Gartner has forecast that 14.2 billion connected things will be in use in 2019 and that the total will reach 25 billion by 2021, producing an immense volume of data. Much of that data will be processed, stored, and analyzed at the edge.

Given the growing importance of IoT, a big consideration when looking at wireless providers is how ready is the company for IoT? For example, can network performance hold up to the demands of growing numbers of connected things and the data they generate?

Technologies such as Narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) can increase network coverage in places that are more difficult to reach and can also help extend the battery life of smart devices. Does the wireless provider have plans to support a nationwide NB-IoT network? The bottom line is that’s important to work with a carrier who has the right tools for the job, whether that be NB-IoT, Cat-1+, 4G LTE, etc. In general, is the provider’s network infrastructure designed to handle the upcoming explosion of IoT data?

A partnership

How we can work together.

Two things are clear: edge computing will be a key IT and business strategy for the coming years, and a key factor for ensuring success at the edge is choosing a wireless network provider that is ready to support this emerging computing environment.

With an enterprise-grade network, T-Mobile for Business is prepared to be your partner in edge-computing success. Contact us below to chat about how we can work together to bring your edge computing strategy to life.

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