Verizon and IBM have agreed to work together on 5G and edge computing. The collaboration will combine the high speed and low latency of Verizon’s 5G and Multi-access Edge Compute (MEC) capabilities, IoT devices and edge sensors with IBM’s expertise in AI, hybrid multicloud, edge computing, asset management and connected operations.

Emerging real time and near real time use cases require infrastructure that is far more flexible and decentralized than the center-out approach of the past. More data and telecom capabilities need to be located closer to where they will be used. This is at the edge of the network.

Re-architecting the network in this way is complex. The first deliverables from the collaboration – which is tied to the future of what the companies call “Industry 4.0” – will address mobile asset tracking and management. Specifically, the projects will detect, locate, diagnose and respond to system anomalies, monitor asset health and help predict failures in near real-time.

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Verizon will contribute elements of its wireless networks, including its 5G Ultra Wideband (UWB) network and MEC as well as its ThingSpace IoT Platform and Critical Asset Sensor solution (CAS). Big Blue will contribute its Maximo Monitor with IBM Watson and advanced analytics.

Other projects include near real-time cognitive automation for industrial environments. “This collaboration is all about enabling the future of industry in the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” Verizon Business CEO Tami Erwin said in a press release. “Combining the high speed and low latency of Verizon’s 5G UWB Network and MEC capabilities with IBM’s expertise in enterprise-grade AI and production automation can provide industrial innovation on a massive scale and can help companies increase automation, minimize waste, lower costs, and offer their own clients a better response time and customer experience.”

Verizon and IBM also plan to collaborate on potential joint solutions to address worker safety, predictive maintenance, product quality and production automation.

In related news, Verizon said today that The 5G Future Forum will release two sets multi-access edge computing specifications during the third quarter of the year. The MEC Experience Management specification “defines a set of intent-based APIs for functional exposure of edge and workload discovery with potential expansion to include future MEC functions and capabilities which are driven by network intelligence.” The MEC Deployment specifications define “the set of specifications to enable hyperscalers and service providers to deploy and integrate global MEC physical frameworks, including facilities (e.g. power and cooling), monitoring, operational considerations, and security.”

The 5G Future Forum, which was formed in January, consists of América Móvil, KT Corp., Rogers, Telstra, Verizon, and Vodafone.

The migration of processing and storage assets to the edge represents a significant shift in telecommunications and IT. Major potential benefactors are rural areas since they by definition are at the edge. Earlier this month, DartPoints’ President and CEO Scott Willis and Chief Development Officer Loren Long described to Telecompetitor how content caching at the edge can benefit rural and other underserved areas. 

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