AT&T Foundry at the forefront of 5G and edge computing

March 6, 2020

573 words 4 mins

Use cases prove 5G-enabled edge computing is ready for prime time
By Oliver Spatscheck

Advances like 5G and edge computing are poised to usher in a generational shift in how we communicate, how we work together and how we live. That’s why we’re so bullish on these technologies, and why AT&T Foundry’s work in these areas captivated customers during the recent AT&T Business Summit in Dallas. More than 3,000 business leaders from around the world attended the Summit to get an inside look at how businesses are approaching 5G. From manufacturing to retail to healthcare and more, customers experienced use cases for virtually every major industry. Among the highlights were two AT&T Foundry 5G edge-native proofs of concept (PoC). Let’s take a closer look.

5G edge helps boost workforce skills to improve operational efficiency

5G edge

When we ask customers what keeps them up at night, they often cite the growing skilled labor shortage and its impact on operating complex, rapidly changing equipment. That is precisely the type of challenge 5G and edge computing can address – and why we created the Assisted Worker use case. AT&T Foundry collaborates with customers on operational prototypes that help bridge the gap between conceptual ideas and real, workable solutions. Our Assisted Worker PoC, simulates a factory line worker using a 5G connected augmented reality (AR) headset to troubleshoot an equipment malfunction using high-definition digital reference materials. To get additional help, the technician connects via live videoconferencing with an off-site supervisor to collaborate virtually on the repair. Meanwhile, a video analytics application runs concurrently throughout the demo, sending the technician real-time safety alerts warning of possible hazards. The simulation demonstrates multiple high-bandwidth applications running simultaneously with no performance degradation – something historically difficult for AR. Our solution uses a multi-access edge computing (MEC) configuration to keep the compute on-site, avoiding shared public spectrum and boosting performance. Plus, the MEC solution provides the same security, control and flexibility as a custom LAN/WLAN configuration – without expensive physical infrastructure investments.

In another related demo, our Remote Immersive Training helps customers step into the shoes of rooky aircraft mechanics learning a new skill. Wearing untethered HoloLens 2 AR headsets, when customers look at landing gear equipment, they see digitally produced instructional overlays. An interactive training module takes customers through a series of visual work prompts, and within minutes they can perform complex landing gear maintenance. This PoC – which showcases AR’s potential to accelerate worker training – is built on our Network Edge Compute (NEC) configuration. NEC speeds connectivity and access to computing horsepower by weaving Microsoft Azure cloud services into our 5G network’s edge – closer to where it’s needed.

Helping enterprises use 5G edge to solve business problems today

Edge-enabled and 5G demos are available now at the AT&T Foundry. It’s exciting to think about the enduring utility of the underlying technologies and concepts in these use cases. The components and learnings we developed for these PoCs can be reshaped and reused across applications and industries. The possibilities are limitless. We are on the cusp of a new technological era – one in which 5G and edge computing will be protagonists in all our stories. Let us help you write your success story. Visit our website at foundry.att.com or reach out to your AT&T representative to schedule a visit to one of our six Foundry locations.

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