Amazon just partnered with Verizon to improve 5G speeds

Key Points
  • AWS CEO Andy Jassy unveils a suite of new services at the re:Invent conference in Las Vegas on Tuesday.
  • Amazon is partnering with Verizon and others to launch WaveLength, a service that uses 5G networks to transfer data from the cloud at faster speeds.
Watch CNBC's full interview with Amazon Web Services chief Andy Jassy
Watch CNBC's full interview with Amazon Web Services chief Andy Jassy

Amazon is using next-generation 5G wireless networks to help businesses download data from the cloud faster.

At Amazon Web Services' annual re:Invent conference on Tuesday, AWS CEO Andy Jassy said the company is introducing a new service, called WaveLength, which puts technology from AWS "at the edge of the 5G network," or closer to users' devices. It has the potential to deliver single-digit millisecond latencies to users, according to Amazon.

At launch, Amazon is partnering with Verizon to incorporate WaveLength technology into parts of its wireless network. Amazon is also working with other global partners, such as Vodafone, KDDI and SK Telecom.

Lower latency is one of the big benefits that's expected to arrive with 5G networks. This means it doesn't take as long for devices to communicate with each other. For users, it results in fewer disruptions and shorter lag times when streaming videos, among other applications. 5G has the potential for many business-to-business applications, such as improving connectivity of IoT devices in manufacturing, self-driving, health care and other areas, in addition to consumer applications, such as faster streaming on phones.

"The connectivity and the speed is just two things," Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg said on stage Tuesday at AWS' re:Invent conference. "We can with 5G now bring the processing out to the edge because we have a virtualized network."

With the partnership, AWS' compute, storage, database and analytics tools are all "embedded" at the edge of 5G networks, Jassy said in an interview with CNBC's Jon Fortt that aired Tuesday.

"That means now you only go from the device to the metro aggregation site, which is where the 5G tower is, where AWS is embedded there, and you get AWS," Jassy said. "So it totally changes the response rates and the latency and what you can get done."

Amazon is launching WaveLength at a time when excitement is ramping up around 5G networks. The technology is expected to be used more broadly by device makers, carriers and cable companies in 2020.

In addition to WaveLength, AWS announced Local Zone, a new set of cloud-computing infrastructure that puts AWS data centers closer to customers. Previously, AWS customers would have to connect to one of AWS' geographic regions or availability zones, which are located across the country. Now, AWS is setting up local data centers in large metro areas, with the first Local Zone launching in Los Angeles.

Local Zones build on AWS' Outpost service, which Amazon officially launched Tuesday after teasing the service at last year's re:Invent conference. Outpost brings AWS hardware and tools to companies' own data centers and enables customers to let Amazon handle maintenance, repairs and software updates.

The announcements show that Amazon is serious about integrating its services with on-premises data centers, an area that has also attracted the likes of Microsoft and its cloud product, Azure. While AWS maintains a strong lead ahead of its rivals, Microsoft's Azure continues to grow at a rapid clip — enough that it's now considered the No. 2 player in cloud computing.

Microsoft has managed to edge out Amazon in one area, however, when the Pentagon awarded it the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, contract in October. Amazon, which also bid for the contract, is now challenging the decision, arguing there was "unmistakable bias" throughout the process.

"We obviously don't believe that JEDI was adjudicated fairly," Jassy said in the interview with CNBC. "There was significant political interference here. And when you have a sitting president who's willing to be very vocal that they dislike a company and the CEO of that company, it makes it difficult for government agencies — including the [Department of Defense] — to make objective decisions without fear of reprisal.

"And I think that's dangerous and risky for our country," Jassy added.

Correction: The CEO of Verizon is Hans Vestberg. A previous version of this story misstated his name.

AWS' Andy Jassy: JEDI cloud contract was not adjudicated correctly
AWS' Andy Jassy: JEDI cloud contract was not adjudicated correctly