When people in telecom talk about multi-access edge computing (MEC) and its role in the lead-up to 5G, they often talk in terms of network proximity to the customer, and the best way to process and deliver data. Often lost in these conversations are the reasons we’re doing this – why MEC and why now?
The breadth of services and opportunities edge computing can enable spans many industries, especially those that have not yet been disrupted by hyper-connectivity. It’s the farm fields. The semi-trucks. The cities. It’s about the gaming fan who wants more from their phone when it comes to speed and processing power.
These visions are coming to life, and MEC is the driver. Importantly, these advancements are allowing operators to deploy 5G-like functionality in networks today. Looking at some of the MEC-based use cases that have been demonstrated recently will give us a glimpse into what the near future holds.
Meet the Flying Field Worker
Picture this scenario: a farmer is losing a portion of her crop every year because there aren’t enough workers on hand to catch diseased or insect-infested plants before it’s too late. A tech-based approach to this challenge wasn’t previously possible because the coverage area is far too vast for Wi-Fi.
Yet, today, this farmer can deploy drones to take video of thousands of acres daily, scanning the video images to detect fungus and pests in real-time. The farm workers or the drones can then spray surgically and preventatively only as needed, saving on labor costs and on materials, since bulk spraying can be avoided. And the farmer will save more of her crop, which increases earnings.
With MEC at the heart of this operation, there is no need to carry dozens of video streams back to a data center. With MEC video processing, the farmer’s business is transformed. She never needs to know that MEC was involved. That’s her mobile provider’s job.
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