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.
The Transformative Power of MEC
Edge computing is poised to turn industries like agriculture, mobile gaming, smart cities and more on their head. Cities get smarter by adding infrastructure and devices, such as cameras and IOT sensors, to manage everything from traffic flows and crowd control to public safety, utility threats and more. Once a city becomes smart, it needs to run continuously, consistently and efficiently to make automated real-time decisions.
Mobile gamers can free themselves from expensive home-console setups and access highly immersive, graphics-intensive games from anywhere – even over a congested LTE network onto a mobile phone. We showed this at Mobile World Congress by “breaking” gaming traffic out of the public network GPRS tunneling protocol (GTP) tunnel to private cloud servers where edge-based processing delivered a fast and seamless experience.
Looking ahead on the path to 5G
MEC is on the path to 5G; it is not a detour. We’ll see it play a crucial role in providing low- latency applications. It will also allow operators to take on new roles in evolving value chains in a way that opens big possibilities for startups and innovation.
In this new era, operators may emerge as smart wholesalers that can provide a “toolkit” in the way of a customizable network that can deliver new services and experiences across industries. It is an exciting time, and it is enabled by virtualized edge services software platforms that are built on ready-to-deploy Intel-powered compute infrastructure.
Vasona Networks has been a part of the Intel® Network Builders ecosystem and is now is member of the new Intel Network Builders Network Edge ecosystem. Learn more about the transformative nature of MEC in our Intel video, at vasonanetworks.com and follow @vasonanetworks on Twitter.