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The Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC)

(Kerry Park, Seattle, U.S.A. - Jeffrey M. Wang)


- 5G Mobile Edge Platform Cloud

Through 5G, mobile network operators (MNOs) will be able to deliver unmatched speed and bandwidth to businesses. Unlike 4G/LTE which targeted mobile consumers, 5G is built for businesses and enterprises. It can replace fiber and wired networks with a high-speed, secure Radio Access Network (RAN). Since the MNO’s network acts as the conduit to the cloud, they can introduce an edge computing layer that offers unique advantages to businesses. 

When 5G becomes available, it will fundamentally change the consumer experience. The low-latency and high-speed network will deliver immersive experiences based on augmented reality and virtual reality. Computer vision services that can perform object detection, image classification and image segmentation will change the retail landscape through Amazon Go-like shopping experience. Smart cities, smart buildings, smart healthcare become a reality. All of the above scenarios heavily depend on data and AI. The edge computing layer powering these applications should have the best of the breed hardware and software platforms.


- The Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC)

5G introduces new challenges to MNOs in managing existing legacy networks and introducing new services and technologies. Like other businesses, MNOs need to modernize their business processes and platforms to become efficient. The Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) will be an essential building block for 5G as it can help build power at the mobile network edge. This platform will offer, computing and storage, running applications through APIs, and even help process radio network capabilities, such as solving network congestion. With this type of power at the hands of the telecoms and Internet providers, it is likely that the 5G wireless infrastructure at the edge, will be like mini-Data Centers. But that power at the edge can only work with the improved mobile broadband characteristics of 5G. 

MEC can be implemented both indoors and outside depending on the access technology. With respect to the outdoors, macro cells place computing and virtualization capabilities into radio network elements. By mixing applications with radio equipment, operators can provide new network features quickly and boost over-the-top (OTT) services. The architecture can improve the efficiency of the infrastructure and be integrated with radio equipment. 

With respect to indoor areas, like Wi-Fi and 3G/4G access points, edge clouds can serve as gateways, which run several services applicable to the specific region in which they are installed. Examples include machine-to-machine situations where MEC services can monitor weather conditions; retailers in malls that would like to communicate to shoppers on their mobile devices; and crowded areas like airports, movie theaters and stadiums where MEC applications can guide users to destinations.


[Edge and Mutli-access Edge Computing (MEC) - Verizon]

- A New Network Architecture

The Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) is a network architecture that enables IT and cloud-computing capabilities at the edge of the cellular network. The main idea behind the architecture is to reduce network congestion and improve applications by performing related processing tasks closer to the end user. The technology is designed to be implemented at cellular base stations, providing rapid deployment of applications and other customer services.

The architecture is comprised of three essential elements: the hosting infrastructure management system, the application platform management system and the application management system. The hosting infrastructure management system consists of a virtualization manager and virtualization layer. The application platform system provides traffic control, radio access network (RAN) information services, communication services and service registry. The application management system is a virtualized machine for applications.


- MEC and 5G Architecture

MEC is an important element of 5G architecture. MEC is an evolution in cloud computing that brings the applications from centralized data centers to the network edge, and therefore closer to the end users and their devices. This essentially creates a shortcut in content delivery between the user and host, and the long network path that once separated them. 

This technology is not exclusive to 5G but is certainly integral to its efficiency. Characteristics of the MEC include the low latency, high bandwidth and real time access to RAN information that distinguish 5G architecture from its predecessors. This convergence of the RAN and core networks will require operators to leverage new approaches to network testing and validation. 

5G networks based on the 3GPP 5G specifications are an ideal environment for MEC deployment. The 5G specifications define the enablers for edge computing, allowing MEC and 5G to collaboratively route traffic. In addition to the latency and bandwidth benefits of the MEC architecture, the distribution of computing power will better enable the high volume of connected devices inherent to 5G deployment and the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT).  


- IPv6 and The Mobile Internet

When you look at the progress major mobile network operators (MNOs) have made with IPv6, there’s no doubting the time for IPv6 is now. The mobile edge of the Internet is rapidly moving to IPv6 in preparation for 5G and IoT. Chances are if you use the Internet on your smartphone, you are connecting via IPv6. With the depletion of IPv4, IPv6 deployment is a key consideration for today’s MNOs in building a sustainable and scalable mobile network. Furthermore, as mobile networks rapidly move to IPv6, MNOs, device manufacturers, website/content providers, and application developers all must consider the implications of what a mobile IPv6 Internet means for them. 

Here are just a few reasons why IPv6 deployment should be a key consideration for Today’s MNOs and others doing business over mobile.

  • 5G and The Future of IoT: Given the massive volume of devices promised by IoT and the rise of 5G with the associated push to the network edge, it is essential to use IPv6 and not be constrained by IPv4 address limitations. IPv4 simply cannot support the needs of a mobile provider to scale a network architecture to support 5G and IoT.
  • Enabling seamless growth as Internet-connected devices and services rising: MONos, gaming platforms, streaming and the IoT will continue to grow in popularity, as will the number of devices that support them. As we reach the end of allocated IPv4 address space, the best way to enable seamless growth of these technologies is through the adoption of IPv6.
  • Avoiding impacts to the performance of service for mobile customers: MNOs already know that IPv6 is the only way to connect large numbers of new customers, and MNOs are driving IPv6 adoption worldwide. For exterprises trying to connect with mobile users, it is an important trend to be aware of, since having content reachable only by IPv4 will impact the performance service.



[More to come ...]






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