AT&T and Google Cloud extend 5G partnership with new enterprise services

With two new joint offerings, Google and AT&T aim to help businesses create new 5G experiences close to the end-user, whether that's on-premise or at the network edge.

Google Cloud and AT&T on Tuesday are announcing a new set of services that will help businesses build new 5G-powered applications and run them either on-premises or at the network edge. The announcement comes more than a year after Google and AT&T first said they were working together on a portfolio of 5G edge computing solutions for industries like retail, manufacturing and transportation.

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With the first service, business customers will be able to build and run applications using Google Cloud capabilities, such as AI, Kubernetes and data analytics. The applications are deployed on-premise using AT&T's 5G and Multi-access Edge Compute (MEC) services. The second service will allow enterprises to deploy applications at Google edge points of presence (POPs), which will be connected to AT&T's 5G and fiber networks.

"We have an opportunity to improve the economics of 5G and edge to help enterprises, via AT&T, to create faster, more compelling experiences at scale," George Nazi, VP of Google's telco business, said to ZDNet. "Our goal is to meet these enterprises wherever they are, depending on the applications that they have."

The expanded partnership is the latest example of how wireless carriers and public cloud providers are all jostling for dominance in the new markets opened up by 5G and edge computing. With low-latency connectivity, industries will be able to process more data and develop new, potentially transformative applications. Manufacturers, for example, will be able to deploy AI-powered quality control applications, while healthcare providers could use VR for remote care. Entertainment venues could build smart parking and ticketless entry programs, and retailers could implement video analytics services to help with crowd control or theft prevention.  

AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon all have their own strategies for winning the market. AT&T is appealing to businesses with a hybrid approach that includes both 5G and fiber. They're also working with a number of partners besides Google, including IBM, Microsoft, Accenture and Deloitte. 

Meanwhile, Google, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure have been busy inking deals with CSPs and other players in the 5G ecosystem. Earlier this year, for instance, Google announced a partnership with Intel to develop reference architectures and technologies that will accelerate the deployment of 5G and edge network solutions. Last year, Google published its Global Mobile Edge Cloud strategy for accelerating 5G monetization. 

Google and AT&T's new on-premise service amounts to "the 5G network with a fully-managed, multi-access edge compute offering that has all of the Google cloud capabilities," explained Rasesh Patel, chief product and platform officer for AT&T business. "Enterprises can build and run their applications closer to their end-users, and they have the flexibility of having the data and the compute on-prem, in the customer's data center, or in the cloud. And it gives them more control over the data security, lower latency and higher bandwidth."

The service also gives customers access to the full Google ecosystem, including access to more than 200 solutions from more than 35 ISV partners. That also means customers will be able to leverage products from Google and its parent company Alphabet, including Google Maps, the Pixel phone and AR/VR services. 

The second service essentially brings customers on AT&T's edge and fiber networks right to Google POPs for lower latency and more seamless customer experiences. It's launching this year in the Chicago metro area. The two companies have plans to expand the service to at least 15 more zones across major cities, including Atlanta, Dallas, Miami and San Francisco.

AT&T and Google are also exploring how to use network APIs to leverage near real-time network information at the Google Cloud edge to optimize applications. 

The two companies have a joint go-to-market effort and will be tapping their solutions teams to assist different industry verticals. "This is providing the building blocks to deliver the next level of innovation, and it's not going to be a single purpose thing. It's innovation that can really fit different industries and in different environments," Patel said.