Q&A: Radian Arc CEO taps cloud gaming to become the champion of the 5G era

As the world grows ever more digitalized, infrastructure has been thrust into the limelight; and with the relative emergence of 5G, smart city development, and cloud gaming around the world, the need for Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) companies continues to exponentially grow.

According to a recent report by ResearchandMarkets, the IaaS market is expected to reach $74.63 billion in 2025 at a CAGR of 13.8 percent, with high growth mainly due to a spike in online services due to COVID-19 that increased demand.

This increased demand in bolstering digital infrastructure has wreaked havoc on global supply chains, affecting core components needed to run the explosion of devices from the automotive and reaching all the way to the gaming industry.

On the cloud gaming front, telcos are finding themselves increasingly involved in the industry by continuously including a suite of games and applications for consumers, bundled together with their 5G offering.

Inside Telecom sat down with Radian Arc’s CEO David Cook – a B2B company that specializes in digital infrastructure and cloud gaming for telcos – to better understand both the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.

INSIDE TELECOM: Mr. Cook, it’s great to have you here; first off, could you please introduce yourself and your company?

COOK: My name is David Cook, I’m the CEO of Radian Arc, an infrastructure-as-a-service business curated for telcos, with the starting application of that being around GPUs, and 5G; we’ve been around for almost 12 months now.

For myself, my background is actually in a lot of media and entertainment, where I helped build the digital supply chain between record labels, and the OTT music services when they first launched almost 20 years ago now, and then did the same thing for video. My team actually bought lots of technology that is still used today in OTT video, as we were fortunate to get that technology onto about a billion connected TVs around the world.

From there, we moved into working on edge compute for telco networks; we actually did a project with Ericsson in that area, and out of that, we really became aware that there was a need to be able to put GPUs inside the telco networks to really take advantage of the combination of cloud gaming and 5G, to achieve low latency, put a GPU in the cloud and provide that service to telcos.

INSIDE TELECOM: Radian Arc’s offering includes Global GPU edge, could you give us a rundown as to how this service improves Value-added services and monetization of 5G investments?

COOK: One of the things that we observed when we were spending a lot of time with telcos over the last few years is that a lot of them had spent a billion or even more on planning and roll out of 5G, but they didn’t really have a lot of killer applications for 5G. While there’s a lot of opportunities in technologies such as drones and self-driving car, but that kind of killer consumer application seemed to be a little bit missing.

We felt like cloud gaming could be that, as a lot of people play video games, it’s become very mainstream. And so, if we could bring the GPU, put it inside of the operators’ networks to really help with that latency, then effectively, we felt like that could become a killer app for 5G carrier’s side.

INSIDE TELECOM: Cloud gaming is growing remarkably YoY, accordingly, could you provide us with a success story in the field of cloud gaming that you have contributed to?

COOK: So, we’ve only been around for about 12 months, thus we’re still building our success story. But what we have done is we’ve actually closed over 10 deals over the last few months with telcos all around the world. With the pace that we’re on, we think that we’ll be at about 20 deals by the end of the year. That was surely a good indicator that shows very strong demand. From there, our goal will obviously be to roll those out and create user experiences.

The one thing that we have shown early on is in our proof of concept conducted in Australia, we’re able to show roughly a 2x faster startup time for games, and our park compared to public cloud, and also a much higher throughput in terms of the number of CCU per GPU compared to a public cloud.

And that’s obviously incredibly important because one of the challenges in cloud gaming has been the economics. And so, the focus that we’ve had on putting the pop inside the operators’ network, we can get a lot of OpEx benefits. And having that pop really optimized cloud gaming to get the maximum amount of CPU per GPU, which obviously makes a fundamental shift in the economics of cloud gaming; that translates into good news for the publishers on one side, and good for the telcos on the other.

INSIDE TELECOM: We cannot talk about GPUs without mentioning the strain on the supply chain to deliver chipsets across all industries; thus, in your opinion, what are the lessons being learned from this ongoing strain that will most likely stay with us during 2022?

COOK: Well, first of all, we’ve been incredibly blessed with our relationship with AMD, which was announced during this year’s Mobile World Congress; so that’s given us very reliable access to both GPUs and CPUs. We’ve been very fortunate in that area, however, obviously, the supply chain goes well beyond that, there’s also procuring the servers, the memory, and more, there definitely have been a lot of challenges on that front.

And actually, it’s not just the inbound supply chain, it’s not just being able to source all of the materials but also being able to distribute them out, and get them into the operator, because it’s what makes this unique, so we’re not just building regional parks, we’re actually sending the equipment and putting it inside each of these operators, networks.

I think it’s really about flexibility in terms of how we operate. Accordingly, we have a reliable source for the key thing that we need the GPU and the CPU. Thus, having flexibility and sourcing around things like switches, control servers, and oftentimes working with the operators, they may have some switches or control servers that we can use, but we can provide the thing that they can’t get anywhere else.

We together with AMD can provide a reliable source of those GPUs and CPUs.

INSIDE TELECOM: We imagine the pandemic has been quite the hurdle for Radian Arc, with extremely high demand coming in all at once; how did the company meet this data explosion at its height?

COOK: Yeah, actually, for us, it was quite interesting, because we were just starting the company during this time; very interesting time to start a company as well, right? So, we didn’t actually have the pressure of having to deliver on the data side during the pandemic, since we’ve just been always into deals and deployment now.

But what it did for us, was provide a very unique opportunity to go out and close deals, because I think what you saw was that everyone became aware of how important gaming is. Thus, for a lot of these telcos, those things came together at the right time, we were in the right place at the right time to go and get those telco deals closed.

Accordingly, for us, in some ways, it was actually quite a blessing, because we weren’t actually trying to physically deliver the bits at that time, but it generated an incredible amount of demand for our product and service.

INSIDE TELECOM: So basically, the telcos came to you. in a sense?

COOK: Absolutely, basically, anyone with a 5G strategy really realized that cloud gaming was an important part of that strategy. We’ve had to do very little outbound promotion of our service. It has actually been an incredible amount of inbound and it’s been inbounded directly from the telcos that we already had relationships with as a team.

INSIDE TELECOM: U.S. President Joe Biden officially signed yesterday the $1 trillion infrastructure plan; will this plan have any effect on your company? And if yes, how?

COOK: Yeah, we haven’t looked at that yet, and the main reason we haven’t is that we’ve been literally blessed with so many inbound leads from the telcos that the entire focus of our team has been really on signing those up like I said, over 10 closed deals, and we’ll be at 20 by the end of the year.

And then going through the process of deploying those pops. So, we have 16 pops that are actually in flight right now being deployed and will deploy another 20 in the January timeframe.

INSIDE TELECOM: Governments have been sluggish in their efforts to revamp their infrastructure, especially when seeing that many of them are looking to accelerate a transition into smart city development; in your opinion, how can the public sector hasten this transition?

COOK: Yeah, so first of all, I think public-private, and that kind of deployment is incredibly, incredibly important. We look at it like this: we believe that if we can put GPUs inside the operator’s networks that actually provides the infrastructure-as-a-Service, which becomes a key ingredient to the overall rollout.

We look at opportunities in the Middle East on this right now as well as Southeast Asia, since those two markets specifically seem to boast a lot of that kind of public-private collaboration around smart cities and smart homes. Accordingly, we say the piece that we can provide in this is really two things: One, if we put the GPU inside the operators’ network, and we connect it with a 5G connection, that really can help you to deliver the smart, that’s a smart city, that isn’t the smart home, so it’s almost like artificial intelligence-as-a-service.

That way your IoT devices – such as the ones deployed in your streetlights for example – those divided devices may be deployed in the home; they really don’t need a lot of computing capability. If you have a low latency connection to them, then the applications, they’re going to support, those kinds of services that can actually run in the cloud inside of the operators’ network.

The second piece, and this kind of goes to the heart of what we’re doing, we’re not just bringing a GPU pop to these telcos, we’re bringing a GPU pop with a small and curated set of applications that will run to optimize the whole process. If you look at clouds, public cloud, you know, a brilliant product, right? It’s really about being able to bring thousands and thousands of application developers and give them the ability to run on the cloud.

We’re not really taking that model, we’re taking a small part of that GPU Park, a curated set of applications that are optimized to run on that part, and then taking that as a bundle to the telco. When we sit down and we talk to the telco, we know that the tip of the arrow now is cloud gaming, which clearly is a pathway to monetization, there’s strong consumer demand for it today.

But it actually becomes almost like a Trojan horse to be able to get these pops inside the network, and then be able to sit down with a telco and say, “What are you looking for, in terms of either smart city applications or smart home applications that we can bring, and we can certify to run in the park, and then actually bring to you to, to sell for your enterprise sales groups.”

INSIDE TELECOM: What areas of focus are the company looking to double down on to accelerate business growth in 2022?

COOK: For us, it’s really about two key things: on one side, it’s about increasing the number of telcos that we have; and we think that we can increase that almost exponentially in 2022. We’ve proven the recipe for success in closing these deals, we know what works, we know what the telco operators are looking for, especially with regards to 5G and cloud gaming.

The second part of it is execution. We have all of these deals that have been closed, we have all of these pops that are being deployed right now, and we need to be able to scale that supply chain. So, we need to better work through supply chain challenges and scale them.

Once we’ve got the real estate, then we can come back and layer in these additional applications. In parallel, there may be other forms of cloud gaming, a bit more around eSports, or maybe more on the smart city side. For us, it’s about increasing the number of telcos, as well as having a very good execution and building out the pipes all around the world, by working through supply chain challenges.

Then after that, it will be about increasing a curated suite of applications we can bring to our telco partners.

INSIDE TELECOM: With someone as veteraned in the telco space as yourself, when looking at all these emerging technologies, what excites you the most and what concerns you the most?

COOK: While we can’t be certain of how these technologies will impact social dynamics, I believe that expanding access to games and accelerating smart city development via cloud infrastructure will provide more benefits to consumers globally.

My main concern is the ongoing supply chain issues, which are far from over. They continue to present challenges, but we have been able to navigate them by working closely with our partners.