Now that edge computing is reaching the mobile networking mainstream, the conversation is evolving quickly. We’re moving past bits and bytes to talk about how multi-access edge computing (MEC) is powering mobile network transformation to serve industries in innovative ways. And operators are starting to understand the economics that accompany MEC deployments.
This is driving a shift in the way operators measure network performance and plan investments. Last year, Vasona Networks* partnered with Bain & Co.*, creators of Net Promoter Score, on a report outlining a proactive approach to network-investment planning. It measures and prioritizes incremental radio access network (RAN) investments based on their impact on customer quality of experience. We showed that operators that choose (incremental) RAN investments can achieve as much as a 30 percent improvement 1 in customer experiences for the same level of investment, resulting in higher capital efficiency.
This approach, called Quality on Investment (QoI), delivers tangible ways to improve application metrics that customers notice and value most. As QoI methods driven by MEC help 4G networks become more efficient, operators can take advantage of capital savings and invest in edge clouds, 5G-ready infrastructure, more coverage, fixed wireless and new services.
MEC is dovetailing with other key technologies, like network slicing, in the lead-up to 5G. Network slicing virtually carves up parts of the network to better allocate them for delivery of specific services. A slice meant to carry 4K video might be tuned for high throughput while a slice meant to power self-driving cars might be low-throughput but also extremely low latency. The idea is that the network stands ready to support a range of use cases in a way today’s networks can’t. Or at least, they couldn’t…until now.
In LTE networks, there is rarely bandwidth to spare. Dynamic slicing powers new use cases today without the drawback of having to permanently lock up portions of the network. The network recognizes application flows in the moment and acts on them accordingly. That can mean breaking out traffic to edge processors, diverting traffic to private clouds for enhanced security or assuring low latency – all to support new services.