Multi-access Edge Computing is a network architecture that brings cloud computing and other IT services at the edge of the cellular network which brings high-bandwidth, low latency and, more importantly, a real-time access to the network that can be used for various applications.
Originally called the Mobile Edge Computing, the name Multi-access Edge Computing was introduced by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) back in September 2016 as it reached beyond mobile technologies and found its usage in plenty of other applications and services including video analytics, location services, Internet-of-Things (IoT), Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), connected and autonomous vehicles, optimized local content distribution, data caching, and more.
Originally developed to provide IT and cloud-computing capabilities within the Radio Access Network (RAN) and in close proximity to mobile subscribers, Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) evolved, especially due to aforementioned ultra-low latency, high-bandwidth and direct access to real-time radio network information which allowed it to cover both mobile as well as WiFi and fixed/wired networks and technologies.
With the rise of 5G and Internet of Things (IoT) and applications associated with those technologies, Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) has expanded to new markets by extending the cloud to the place of connection and bringing micro-data centers at the edge of the network providing distributed computing for intense local tasks, real time delivery of live and on-demand content, apps with unmatched interactivity, IoT analytics at the point of capture and robust low-latency for critical voice and data.
There are plenty of MEC applications for both subscribers, enterprise and corporate as well as the Internet of Things usage, including User and network analytics and LTE coverage extender, indoor navigation, video surveillance, object tracking, local content, private LTE, edge video and audio analytics, and more.
Back in July 2017, ETSI and its Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) Industry Specification Group (ISG) have released the first package of standardized Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). These are meant to support edge computing interoperability, which also includes APIs for two key MEC services, Radio Network Information Service (RNIS) and Location Service (LS).
Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) and its future
The future expanding of 5G and IoT, as well as the standardization of MEC done by ETSI, will push the development as well as the introduction of new usage scenarios. Recognized by plenty of well-known companies, MEC is definitely one of those hot topics in today’s network environment.
Some of the well-known companies that offer Multi-access Edge Computing platforms, hardware and services include Nokia’s Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) platform, HPE’s Edgeline and Micro Datacenter, Intel’s Network Edge Virtualization, and others.
Multi-access Edge Computing is constantly evolving and will continue to complement network functions virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN).