We’ve spoken a lot recently about how multi-access edge computing (MEC) is finally having its moment, with more attention than ever being paid to how mobile operators can deploy it to push networks further. Recently, we had the opportunity to co-present a webinar with F5 Networks focused on how to spend less, improve QoE and deliver low-latency services with MEC. Godfrey Tan of F5 Networks joined our own John Reister for a discussion on how MEC can help operators create a new paradigm for network monitoring, measurement and refinement that drives more impactful investment decisions. You can access the webinar replay for free here.
The demand for MEC is driven by challenges that arise from the video-driven data explosion and heavy mobile usage while revenues remain relatively flat. MEC gives operators a better handle on traffic management to give 4G users the best experiences while freeing up investments for next-gen deployments, like 5G.
MEC also creates the opportunity to collaborate with other players in the value chain, John explains, and “allows operators to go from just a pipe to a key link” in a transformative journey. The many use cases operators can target with MEC include throughput guidance, video acceleration, augmented reality, connected vehicles, IoT analytics, enterprise services, network performance and utilization optimization, retail, ehealth, industrial IoT and mobile gaming.
MEC architectures can be built to address a range of challenges, says Godfrey. Everything from best quality with low latency, enhancing RAN capacity and streamlining CAPEX/OPEX to dynamically evolving networks and monetizing with trusted third party apps. A range of business cases stand ready to support deployments, such as evolution to future infrastructure, move to standardized and open source architectures, and growing need for hosted and low latency mobile edge clouds.
One common misconception about edge computing is that it must be deployed at the very edge. A mid-webinar poll of attendees showed attendees think MEC resources should be located at:
- Hub/C-RAN – 44%
- MTSO aggregation site – 33%
- Cell site – 22%
In fact, situating MEC at the cell sites is simply too expensive for most needs. Instead, . we anticipate and recommend MEC be deployed primarily at key aggregation points in the network.
There is plenty more to explore in MEC, including how it will bring network slicing-like benefits to the network in a way that is more dynamic than what is currently being planned for 5G implementations. We’ll discuss that further in a future post.