Google will bring its cloud services closer to customers using 5G wireless equipment built by Ericsson, stamping its mark on a business that was once the preserve of phone companies.
The US tech giant and the Swedish company struck a partnership to offer cloud computing for time-sensitive applications such as robotics and virtual reality that will work only when the digital signal travels a short distance.
Google and Ericsson have begun tests with Italy’s Telecom Italia for the applications they plan to sell to companies, including transportation providers or carmakers, according to a statement on Tuesday. They will need eventually to collaborate with other phone companies because the cloud systems will feed into regional telecoms networks.
A cloud provider such as Google “does not have to be a competitor to a communications service provider”, Google Cloud chief executive Thomas Kurian said in an interview.
Still, the deal shows Silicon Valley’s growing role in managing the networks that underpin the internet, not only the data that runs through them. It also underscores how a medley of businesses are jostling for slices of the nascent 5G wireless market, which could eventually be worth trillions of dollars, according to consultants at KPMG.
In the past decade, the US tech giants have focused on massive centralised data centres to provide less time-sensitive services such as storage. These are too remote from customers to help in the next wave of so-called edge computing.