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Lowering Costs and Driving Service Innovation by Migrating Capabilities to the Network Edge

Mobile Edge Congress

The Competitive Edge of your Network Article


saguna blog

Guest Post by Ofer Talmor, VP of Products at Saguna

Mobile First. And Second. And Third.

It’s been called the extension of one’s hand, a camera, an entertainment center, a digital wallet and what not. Mobile devices are here to stay, and they’re playing a more significant role in our lives as new services are introduced.

While on many aspects the mobile industry has innovated, it seems as if the network infrastructure itself is lagging behind. With the ever-growing data consumption, Mobile operators are left struggling on multiple fronts.

The experience gap – new apps and services users access on the move, especially video and rich data, gobble bandwidth, often resulting in poor connectivity and high latency. As new ultra-low-latency services such as Internet of things (IoT) and tactile Internet emerge, minimizing latency is even more critical.

  • The financial gap –Average revenue per user (ARPU) is declining across the globe, while operators deliver increasing amounts of data. This creates a tough business challenge for mobile operators, who must seek new revenue generation options and reduce the cost of data delivery.

 

  • The scalability gap – the IoT is bringing millions of connected devices, which create staggering volumes of messages. Combined with the skyrocketing data consumption, mobile networks need to scale fast.

A multi-tiered IT infrastructure

In the IT world we are seeing cloud infrastructure being augmented with distributed computing paradigms such as Microsoft Cloudlets and Cisco Fog. While centralized cloud computing provides cost-effective high-power capabilities, it suffers in latency due to the sheer distance from the end device. By bringing “pieces” of the cloud closer to the end device, distributed architectures can provide low latency response, and as a direct result, higher bandwidth.

Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) builds on distributed IT computing concept adapting it for the demanding mobile radio access network (RAN). Backed by leading equipment vendors and mobile operators, MEC is an industry standard that brings cloud-computing capabilities and IT functionality at the edge of the mobile network. The standard-based approach opens the mobile network market space to innovation and new players while creating an environment that offers low latency, high bandwidth and scalability. MEC not only helps to improve user experience, but it also serves to enhance network performance and create new revenue generation opportunities.

Living at the Edge

Bringing computational power, storage and functionality to the edge of the network can transform the future of mobile networks. It can help operators improve the bottom line by reducing the cost of delivering data while scaling the capacity of their networks. It can also improve the top line, with new revenue generating opportunities and expansion into new markets.

Harnessing MEC allows for:

-          Introduction of new applications, for retail, security, virtual reality and more. This serves for positioning the operator as an innovative player, with value added and new revenue generating services.

-          Entering new market segments, such as The Internet of Things (IoT), a new and untapped market that is expected to undergo accelerated growth over the next 5 years. Low latency IoT and tactile Internet applications can be operated from the MEC platform to minimize the round-trip-time and provide near-real time control. The fast response time ensures very short communications times, which extends battery life on devices and conserves network resources.

-          Enhanced QoE, via serving rich content and video closer to where users are, service availability and continuity increases. With MEC capabilities websites may be accelerated so that users retrieve information and perform interactions faster, and video is delivered more smoothly, with a significant cut on latency.

Bringing it home

Implementing and integrating MEC is relatively easy with minimal changes to the mobile network. In essence, it is an NFV software extension on standard servers. It supports various integration options: mobile network with macro cells, small cells, enterprises and venues.

Looking forward

MEC is here for the long run. Looking to next generation 5G network architecture there are 3 main goals that need to be realized: faster data, ultra-low latency and a much more connected world. MEC offers a standardized way of making significant steps towards all three goals. The standard can be deployed today adding value to 4G networks while providing a future proof path to 5G.

With MEC, computing capabilities are pushed closer to the radio access network (and, in turn, closer to subscribers), enabling low-latency and high-bandwidth access to content, applications and services. The distributed MEC architecture also makes it ideal for supporting high volumes of connected devices, which will generate even higher volumes of data interactions.

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