Why the Future is in Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC)

  Aug 10, 2020 2:06:54 AM

With subscribers consuming a range of content in the form of images, videos, music, and through various social media channels, the need for on-demand content on mobile devices and Edge Computing have seen an exponential increase in the last few years. Due to the surge of data at the Edge, Mobile Network Operators (MNO) are strengthening their RAN (Radio Access Networks) by bringing in small cells to stay ahead of the digital boom. This is essential for mobile devices and Edge gateways because they offer lesser speeds and bandwidth as compared to wired networks that cater to homes and factories.

Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC) allows the operator to open their RAN Edge using virtualization of software on general-purpose router hardware, within a small and secure form factor. Reliable caching units are also provided to emulate parts of the core network, running a virtualized core network as part of the operator’s development ecosystem partners.

MEC adds value between Cloud or on-premise data centers and mobile devices by enabling intermediate sensing, processing, intelligence, storage, and control, which brings the latency down and makes real-time data available at high speeds, thus enhancing the performance. MEC was created to address the need for mobile operators to move the processing and storage of applications & services to the Edge. It also optimizes mobile network performance and resource utilization in real-time.

By 2027, the global MEC market is expected to reach $15.4 billion. For MNOs, the benefits of MEC include:

  • Caching video content at the Edge that improves content delivery and reduces cost of transmission
  • Better experience for users due to increased bandwidth, faster speeds, and personalized content
  • Newer revenue models for MNOs because they can charge end consumers for storage, network, bandwidth, CPUs, etc.
  • Since they are not required to host all enhanced services in the mobile core, MNOs can reduce OPEX by reducing massive offloading to the core network.
  • Enabling sensors, processing, and control at the MEC thereby contributing to applications and services for Industry 4.0 and above use cases

Services offered by MEC Ecosystem Vendors:

  • Mobile Operators: Mobile Network operators have opened their RAN platform for third-party application integration at the Edge like OpenRAN. Some MNOs are at various stages of MEC deployments in the US and Europe, such as AT&T, Verizon, Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone, and T-Mobile.
  • Application Developers: Predictive Maintenance, Remote Servicing, OTA updates, etc. have been enabled by application developers using mixed reality applications. Some application developers are providing content for augmented/virtual reality devices such as Microsoft HoloLens, Google Glass, Carl Zeiss Smart Glass, Sony SmartEyeglass, and CastAR.
  • Over the Top (OTT) Service Providers: OTT providers are providing personalized customer experiences irrespective of the network service provider that the end-user is subscribed to. Some such platforms include Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Disney Hotstar, Microsoft Xbox, and Sony Playstation, among others.
  • Independent Software Vendors (ISV): ISVs provide host software in collaboration with hardware and Cloud platform providers. Examples include Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and IBM.
  • Telecom Equipment Vendors: MEC solutions and use-cases are being leveraged by suppliers such as Nokia/Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, and Huawei.
  • System Integrators: While automation is accelerating business intelligence across industries, many industrial operators lack the staff and experience to pilot new automation projects, relying instead on systems integrators. Some organizations in this area include Sasken Technologies, Tech Mahindra, Wipro, TCS, Infosys, and Capgemini.
  • Edge Hardware and Software Vendors: These vendors are providing IoT, networking, and cloud computing products and services to enable Edge computing such as Cisco, Amazon AWS, and Dell.
  • Cloud Hardware and IT Platform Vendors: All the above-listed ecosystem partners are customizing the Edge computing platform by leveraging cloud partners such as Microsoft, Amazon, IBM, and Google.

Examples of MEC Use Cases

  • Connected/autonomous vehicles: MEC can enable access to crucial information for on-vehicle details and road conditions along with potential hazards to passengers/pedestrians/other road users shared directly with riders rather than interfacing with central cloud servers.
  • Enterprise AR/VR for maintenance and repair: MEC can help service and maintenance personnel by offering remote training with mixed reality content necessary for repairs and upgrades on the machines in real-time. This is a typical Industry 4.0 use-case leveraged by Digital Twin.
  • Real-time enterprise collaboration: MEC enables increased collaboration among Engineering R&D teams by allowing real-time content delivered across the Edge.
  • Cloud gaming: MEC is enabling gamers to collaborate in real-time by providing rich content and faster feedback at gaming consoles.
  • Real-time drone detection: Sensors can detect when a drone has breached a security perimeter. Since this needs to be detected in real-time and acted on immediately, MEC can help reduce potential latencies.
  • Video analytics: MEC can enable the filtering of raw data, thereby reducing the need to route heavy video traffic to a central server for analysis.

Future is Multi-Access Edge Computing
At Sasken, we believe the future is in Multi-Access Edge Computing because of the following reasons:

  • Massive virtualization at the Edge is being enabled by high performing computing platforms where CPUs, GPUs, storage, interfaces, etc. are being shared across all applications for maximum performance with minimum hardware.
  • Safety, security, availability, and reliability are being ensured by having a middle layer interface to the cloud servers
  • MEC, with its unique ability to support mobility, can be combined with significant longer-term potential size of the applications (AR/VR, drone control, etc.), making it a point of strategic interest for telecommunication.
  • Service providers can leverage MEC to monetize their network with the introduction of new innovative applications and services that require low latency for their customers.

 

Posted by:
Gurudutt B V
Senior Presales Executive, Network and Modem Business

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