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Microsoft and AT&T Team on 5G Edge Zones Service

Microsoft on Wednesday announced Azure Edge Zones with AT&T support, a service that's at the private preview stage.

The Azure Edge Zones collaboration is an effort to boost application performance for enterprise customers by extending Azure capabilities "to the operator's 5G network edge." It's for metro areas where latency issues could affect application performance.

Azure Edge Zones with AT&T is also touted for use by application developers:

A selected set of Azure services deployed at the edge, directly connected to AT&T's 5G core, enables latency-sensitive enterprise scenarios through optimized routing from the Azure Edge Zones with AT&T to the AT&T mobility network. This enables developers to innovate richer applications with lower latency, higher throughput, and greater reach.

The Azure services connected to AT&T's 5G wireless network core under this scenario include Azure Virtual Machines, Azure Virtual Networks, Azure Standard Load Balancer, Private Link, Public IP and the Azure Kubernetes Service, according to a diagram in Microsoft's announcement.

Microsoft is using network edge capabilities with AT&T's 5G network to support audio and video streaming for musicians. The capabilities also are being used by EVA for its autonomous drones. Another envisioned support scenario is adding better support for navigation, voice and mapping services for cars. Mobile gaming and remote medical care are other possible use cases.

AT&T described the combined technologies as bringing supercomputing to consumers.

"As compute expands beyond centralized systems and out to the edge of the 5G network, companies and consumers now essentially have supercomputer capabilities in the air around them," said Andre Fuetsch, AT&T Network Services' chief technology officer, in a released statement. 

Azure Edge Zones with AT&T is currently at the private preview stage in Atlanta, Ga. Microsoft expects to expand to Dallas, Texas and other metro areas at some point.

The two companies have been collaborating on 5G and network edge technologies for years. A strategic alliance was announced back in 2019.

Microsoft and AT&T more recently paired Azure Stack Edge with AT&T's Multi-Access Edge Computing service to improve low-latency scenarios for Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Last year, they combined efforts on AT&T's cellular-enabled guardian device for IoT devices, combining AT&T security with Azure Sphere silicon for use in "brownfield equipment." 

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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