5G has been prominent in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region, with countries like Singapore, Japan, China, and South Korea leading the charge in 5G infrastructure deployments at the core and Radio Access Network (RAN). As one of the leaders in 5G, Singapore has deployed platforms, such as Paragon, to unlock a variety of 5G use cases for enterprises such as real-time Extended Reality (XR) solutions and simulations, autonomous vehicles, and edge data center management. The announcement at Mobile World Congress (MWC) to partner the platform with Microsoft Azure Public MEC promises to unleash a new wave of 5G use cases to the edge.
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Singtel's Paragon Partners with Microsoft Azure
This year at Mobile World Congress (MWC), Singtel announced a partnership with Microsoft (MS) to bring Azure Public Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC) to its 5G network and Paragon platform. The Paragon platform, aimed at 5G Management and Network Orchestration (MANO) for enterprises, is an all-in-one solution to manage and orchestrate network and edge cloud resources. By combining MS Azure’s tools with the Paragon platform, Singtel aims to provide easy access to end-to-end use cases requiring real-time latencies, such as edge Artificial Intelligence (AI) on performance-optimized network slices. This effort comes after last year’s Singtel x Intel incubator program to bring Singtel’s 5G and Paragon to the edge with Intel’s Zeon scalable process and DC GPUs for use cases such as real-time Extended Reality (XR) simulations, and real-time condition-based monitoring solutions for factories and edge data centers. These developments signal a strong focus on 5G-enabled edge deployments in the region and the rising integration of the public cloud in Singapore for enabling hyperconnectivity.
Edge AI and Mobility Use Case Expansion
Singtel’s Paragon is a powerful platform that enables businesses to harness the full potential of 5G and the edge, and partnering with MS Azure positions it as a premier solution for enterprise 5G in the region by reducing complexity and Time-to-Market (TTM). In this way, enterprises can leverage Singtel’s highly developed 5G network infrastructure (estimated at around 95% nationwide outdoor coverage) alongside Azure Programmable Connectivity to develop network-sensitive applications. This partnership is very much in line with Microsoft's strategy of maintaining a strong presence in the enterprise domain for public cloud services and driving growth through the implementation of the public cloud in Communication Service Provider (CSP) environments. In this way, Microsoft and Singtel are moving the 5G enablement needle forward for enterprises and providing a flexible (pay-as-you-go) means for the monetization and optimization of 5G and edge computing.
This partnership will have an accelerated effect on use cases involving mobility in the region, such as 5G-enabled Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) for surveillance and security in campus environments. Some use cases are already starting to emerge. Recent government funding by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) for 5G projects in Singapore heralds this more connected future, where robots will be patrolling the streets, cleaning rivers, and building cars. Managing deployments like these are becoming increasingly complex, especially when running compute-intensive edge workloads, like collision detection via Machine Learning (ML) and AI models from the Azure public MEC. Inherently, the split analysis performed between different platforms for such a use case requires a 5G network and solution that optimizes traffic for critical, real-time scenarios. In this way, Azure public MEC alongside Singtel’s Paragon helps simplify the programming and networking capabilities required for a use case while leveraging Singtel’s prolific network of 5G base stations to help unlock a variety of new use high bandwidth and low latency use cases for various sectors including smart city, public safety, transportation, health care, and urban planning.
Unlocking Industry Vertical Transformation
A wide range of industries in Singapore stands to benefit from Paragon integrating Azure public MEC, especially those which leverage compute-intensive workloads at the edge, such as transportation, healthcare, manufacturing, and industrial automation. The opportunity this partnership represents echoes out for the rest of APAC. In this way, unlocking industry transformation through the edge remains apparent, especially for China through its pursuit of 5G-enabled smart grids, like the one seen at the port city of Qingdao, which can remove faults in distribution lines within milliseconds. Alongside 5G infrastructure and edge solutions, the proliferation of real-time surveillance is another driver for the boom in edge computing in the region, not only for China and Singapore, but for South Korea as well, where companies like Hanwha Techwin, Daedon, and Samsung have been developing edge AI-based solutions for stationary and mobile applications. With many countries in APAC now leading in 5G infrastructure development, new industry use cases and verticals are emerging which will help shape the future of edge computing. In this way, ABI Research anticipates that IoT modules, edge infrastructure, and edge AI will continue to see growth in the region, with worldwide on-premises and edge cloud AI server shipments expected to increase by a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 56% from 2023 to 2028, from 222,000 to 2 million, respectively.