MEC (Mobile Edge Computing)

Edge Computing Not Yet a Telco Priority – Poll

Mobile edge computing (MEC) is rising up the telco agenda even if it is not yet considered to be as strategically important as other next-generation technologies, judging by the results of a new Light Reading poll.

Asked if they thought MEC is near the top of any service provider agendas, only 30% of readers agreed the technology is attracting as much attention as 5G, NFV and security. Another 24% reckon it is becoming more of a talking point, albeit not yet at CXO level.

But 18% of respondents think operators are still relatively ignorant when it comes to MEC, saying telco executives "know about it … only as a concept." And 28% seem baffled by it themselves, choosing "mobile edge what?" in response to Light Reading's question.

A total of 675 respondents participated in the survey about MEC.

Source: Light Reading
Source: Light Reading

Broadly speaking, the technology is supposed to let operators put their IT resources near basestations, at the network's "edge," rather than in more centralized data centers. By reducing network latency and boosting performance, that move -- it is hoped -- will open up new service opportunities.

Due to various technical and business challenges, however, the concept of edge computing has not yet taken off in a real-world setting. The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) is now working on formal specifications for the technology, and has recently broadened its remit to cover non-mobile access networks, addressing demands for a more all-encompassing vision of edge computing.

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Even so, MEC faces a challenge from other technology concepts and ideas about network evolution. At the forefront of those is fog computing, whose proponents believe that some IT resources can be moved even closer to the end user, into the devices themselves.

ETSI has been quick to fend off the suggestion that it might get sidelined by alternative initiatives and has recently formed alliances with other groups active in this area.

Uncertainty over the form that edge computing eventually takes could explain the wariness of some poll respondents.

For a selection of recent stories about MEC, see:

— Iain Morris, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, News Editor, Light Reading

John Reister 12/16/2016 | 5:44:12 PM
Edge Compute Applications vs Platform Very interesting article.  As MEC is just becoming known, I think there is a distinction between interest in a flexible edge computing platform vs interest in applications--running on an edge platform--that address today's problems.  For example, mobile throughput guidance (MTG), in commercial field evaluation today, reduces stall (aka rebuffering) time on video streams by 20% during the busy hours and it also reduces latency since packets don't queue up as much in the RAN.  MTG also means coordination between Telco and content provider in controlling the quality of video streaming.  Substantial improvement in user video QoE IS top-of-mind for mobile operators.  
Kelsey Ziser 12/14/2016 | 4:20:21 PM
Surprising results Would be interesting to ask this survey again mid-way through 2017...surprised to see the low predictions of service provider interest in MEC since it could help meet the lower latency requirements needed to support 5G.
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