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AWS and Verizon Pitch 5G to Businesses With New Edge Computing Sites

The partners have launched Wavelength data centers in Boston and Silicon Valley.

Scott Moritz (Bloomberg) -- Inc.’s AWS and Verizon Communications Inc. are opening new 5G server sites in Boston and Silicon Valley Thursday, pitching businesses to use the next-generation network for everything from health care to tracking sports data.

The edge computing facilities are the first of 10 this year that will be used for commercial customers -- a key step in popularizing 5G technology, which will eventually be the main wireless network for both business and consumer devices.

The partnership between Verizon and Amazon’s cloud services division -- called AWS Wavelength -- is racing against rivals such as Microsoft Corp. and AT&T Inc. to find customers willing to pay for so-called 5G-edge computing services. The technology should be able to connect millions of devices instantaneously, avoiding the typical millisecond delays when reaching server farms.

During months of trials, Amazon and Verizon have been watching how well the technology works in the real world. Avesha, a developer of artificial-intelligence applications in the Boston area, is using the Wavelength service to help doctors instantly identify abnormalities during procedures like colonoscopies. And sports data company ShotTracker is using 5G sensors in basketball games to compile instant statistical analysis for teams and broadcast announcers.

“It will make a huge difference by not having to wait hundreds of milliseconds for the information,” said Tami Erwin, chief executive officer of Verizon Business. “With low latency, they’ll be able to do diagnostics very, very quickly.”

Amazon and Verizon launched Wavelength last year and signed on its first 5G-edge customer in December: Bethesda Softworks, a unit of ZeniMax Media Inc. that produces video games such as Doom, Rage and Fallout. Verizon will open 5G-edge commercial development facilities in Chicago and seven other cities by year end, Erwin said.

Tech companies and the wireless carriers are hoping 5G services usher in a new era of revenue in a market estimated to be worth $4 trillion by 2030. The rollout of 5G has been a multibillion-dollar investment by Verizon -- as well as AT&T and T-Mobile US Inc., which are offering mobile-phone 5G service to consumers nationwide. The arrival of more 5G phones this fall, including the expected 5G iPhone, could help accelerate what has been relatively slow adoption.

The Covid-19 pandemic has put pressure on the economy and sales. But it’s also made networks more important than ever.

“There’s been an expansion of capabilities around digital transformation being fueled by Covid,” Erwin said. “Mobile edge computing will play such an important role as businesses transform their customer experience and their cost structures.”

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