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Why we need to work backwards to realise the potential of edge

Mark Toman
Client Director, BT Wholesale

5G and next-generation multi-cloud networking is bringing massive opportunity for organisations.

With edge, organisations can alleviate demand from their own servers and eliminate unnecessary data from the cloud; low latency can be maintained despite extremely high traffic from data-hungry apps and platforms. With ever-increasing digitalisation and emerging tech like AI and extended reality, this demand will only increase.


However, the telecoms industry to date has been too general in its approach to innovation. There have been incredible ideas, but they are too broad and neglect the often very specific needs of the end user. What’s more, the ecosystem today is fragmented. Organisations find themselves dealing with one provider for compute, another for network and so on. A fresh approach is needed where we bring the ecosystem together and work with the best partners to deliver bespoke solutions for customers. At BT, that’s exactly what we are doing. 

Picture this… Examples of edge

With BT, our cohesive ecosystem and renowned network means we can offer a hybrid of on-prem and off-prem depending on our customers’ specific needs. For example, we have helped to transform the efficiency of ports in the UK. Did you know it was possible to lose a 40-tonne crane? Asset tracking technology delivered by edge ensures that port managers know where their assets are at any given time and their cranes don’t end up where they shouldn’t. Using on-prem connectivity we have also installed cameras that can identify and inspect crates as they come off the ship and autonomously inspect them for any signs of damage or tampering. This process used to be manual, which is time-consuming and inefficient.


Elsewhere, in industries such as manufacturing, retail and entertainment, extended reality (XR) – encompassing augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) – is on the brink of a huge revolution that will be delivered by edge. For instance, in manufacturing and logistics, it can support inventory management and warehousing operations to reduce errors and quicken the picking process. Right now, if these technologies are being used, they are based on-prem because of the low latency requirements. The problem is, this offers very little flexibility and any activity off-site or remote is difficult – for example in building, construction and engineering. With edge, you have a network in a box which offers a seamless experience.


That said, low latency, high availability and the premium service that edge offers is just part of what makes it so good. Data management is just as important – if not more so. With network edge-based services, you can get full access to data via a cloud provider. You can collect and manage data, then apply analytics to boost efficiency. This can be transformative for a business with multiple sites, helping to inform decisions. In healthcare too – including for the NHS – being able to centralise data will be a game changer. 

Better on BT

At BT we are dedicated to curating an ecosystem that will make edge a success and bring all these examples to life. Crucially, we have the right partners such as AWS – who we are working with hand in glove to bring mobile edge computing services to customers via AWS Wavelength. BT controls the network elements, pricing and security to offer a safe and robust service, but one that is truly tailored to specific use cases. Making sure we remain hyper-focused on the problems our customers need us to solve – whether that is in ports, stockrooms or hospitals – is central to our mission. Edge is an innovation and efficiency enabler, but we need to work backwards with specific use cases in mind to make it a reality.


Mark Toman joined the panel discussion at Immersive Technology, deep-diving into edge and XR on 7th December 13:30 – 14:00. You can also connect with Mark on LinkedIn.  

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