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Tapping the Power of Mobile Edge Computing

Telco_Editor

Tapping the Power of Mobile Edge Computing              

 k-GettyImages-472371520_RF.jpgOne of the most exciting aspects of the evolution to 5G is the introduction of mobile edge computing (MEC) on a potentially massive scale. By distributing compute capabilities out closer to the edge, we can anticipate a world of new applications and business models that aren’t possible when traffic has to be backhauled to the network core. What will MEC mean for operators and their customers? In a far-ranging panel discussion that HPE hosted at Mobile World Congress, leaders from BT, HPE, and Artesyn Embedded Technologies discussed some of the implications.

 

Why Distribute More Intelligence to the Network Edge?

According to the panelists, the number one driver of MEC is user demand. “Before, mobile was predominately voice and a little data,” said Neil McCrae, chief network architect for BT. “The explosion of video applications means that carrying video traffic to the center of the network and back just doesn’t work.”

The panel discussed some of the many other emerging applications—cloud-enabled services, connected cars, remote surgery, virtual and augmented reality—that will depend on edge processing.

“The thing that stands out this year at MWC is the number of innovative services we’re starting to see that would have been too hard to do before, due to latency, jitter, and packet loss when backhauling traffic,” said McCrae. “Now, we can put these services at the edge. All of the cool things we’re seeing here with connected cars, robotics, and more, are all powered by edge compute.”

Linsey Miller, vice president of marketing, Embedded Computing, Artesyn, also noted the huge MEC opportunity in the enterprise space. “It enables service providers to go into enterprises and offer really compelling services that may even displace Wi-Fi networks or DAS network implementations in places like sports stadiums, shopping malls, larger campuses. There are things you can now do with mobile edge computing infrastructure that displaces the old world.”

 

Changing Business Models

The panel agreed that MEC-based applications represent a new venue for operators to differentiate their capabilities in the marketplace.

“To get to proper return on investment as networks are being built out, carriers need to utilize the uniqueness that a distributed infrastructure has,” said HPE’s Claus Pederson, director, CSP Platforms, Data Center Infrastructure. “By pushing compute out towards the edge, that’s something very hard for OTT providers to do. It gives rise to new types of services that you can’t implement if you have to backhaul everything.”

McCrae was particularly excited about operators’ ability to combine subscriber proximity with 5G higher bandwidths and millisecond latencies to deliver new kinds of experiences.

“Amazon or Google couldn’t do this,” he said. “We as service providers have that proximity to the user. There are so many services that, over next 12 months, we will start to see as 5G standards and IoT intermixes with all of the things we’ve talked about. The mind boggles as to what comes out of the end of that.”

More than just a competitive play, MEC capabilities will also allow operators to collaborate with OTT providers in new ways. Panelists discussed the value chains that already exist around video, such as operators working with providers like Netflix to position content closer to subscribers and deliver better experiences.

“More and more, we will see service providers, OTT guys, application providers, car manufacturers, all of these verticals that will have to work closer and closer together to get the model right,” said McCrae. “Not just from cost perspective, but also to ensure that these applications that we’re building actually work and deliver value.”

 

Learn More

Don’t miss this fascinating discussion of what we can expect from MEC, from industry leaders right in the thick of it. You can watch the full panel discussion at http://www.telecomtv.com/articles/mwc/realizing-the-intelligence-of-the-network-edge-14416/.

Learn more about HPE Solutions at  www.hpe.com/dsp/transform

 

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