centurylinkCenturyLink said today that it will invest “several hundred million dollars” in edge computing, following in the footsteps of AT&T and Verizon, both of whom have already been investing in that area.

AT&T and Verizon both have mobile businesses and with the advent of low-latency 5G networks, they and other mobile carriers are recognizing the need to minimize the distance between mobile users and the cloud.

CenturyLink’s entry into edge computing suggests that the edge compute market may be like the fiber backhaul market— a mobile-driven opportunity even for non-mobile carriers.

CenturyLink Senior Vice President of Product Management Paul Savill referenced wireless carriers as one of several target groups for the company’s edge compute offerings, along with enterprises, hyperscalers and systems integrators.

CenturyLink said it will provide a latency of 5 milliseconds for its edge compute services.

“Forward looking companies seeking the advantages of next-generation IoT, AI and machine learning applications increasingly need distributed solutions— from the local edge to the public cloud core— that combine compute, storage and networking in an integrated package,” CenturyLink said in today’s press release.

Today’s release references plans for more than 100 edge data centers but also notes that CenturyLink has “thousands of secure facilities” that the company could leverage— a comment that suggests CenturyLink may be borrowing a page from AT&T and repurposing existing central offices or other infrastructure originally deployed to support telecom services.

Ironically, the major telcos are getting into edge computing just a few years after moving out of the traditional data center market. In 2017, for example, both Verizon and CenturyLink sold off data centers.

At that time it seemed that the telcos might be having difficulty competing with the likes of Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure in the data center business.

But considering the link with 5G, perhaps the edge computing opportunity will be a better one for the telcos— particularly if plans to repurpose telecom infrastructure yield positive results.

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