Much of the excitement about multi-access edge computing (MEC) centers around its potential use cases and how it might be combined with other emerging technologies such as 5G and artificial intelligence (AI).
However, there are MEC use cases that are being implemented by businesses and organizations right now that can showcase the power of multi-access edge computing for a wide variety of different industries and applications.
From customer services and commercial operations to critical infrastructure and the industrial Internet of Things (IoT), multi-access edge computing is allowing network operators to open up their own networks to a completely new IT environment.
As we continue to rely on increasingly connected and intelligent systems to help run our day to day business and personal lives, the Internet of Things and MEC technologies could provide the high-bandwidth, low-latency, and real-time access needed by modern systems.
In this article, we’ll being taking a look at five multi-access edge computing use cases and the benefits they bring to their particular applications. Before we do that, however, let’s first briefly remind ourselves about what multi-access edge computing is.
What is Multi-Access Edge Computing?
Multi-access edge computing is the next progression in moving computing and data processing to the network edge and much closer to the customer, having been renamed in 2016 from mobile edge computing by The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) due to their foreseeing the applicability of this technology beyond its roots in mobile telecommunications.
Essentially, multi-access edge computing is a network architecture that allows for a cloud-based IT service environment at the edge of a network. This enables real-time, high-bandwidth, low-latency access to radio network information by analysing, processing and storing data at the network edge.
MEC is attractive because it could allow network operators to support new services and tap into new sources of revenue, reduce network congestion and preserve bandwidth as well as reduce the cost of cloud storage and transportation and provide analytics in real-time with lower latency.
There are various applications in which multi-access edge computing is being experimented with and it is hoped that soon we will begin to see the widespread adoption, and therefore the benefit, of computing at the network’s edge alongside, and possibly even enabling, other cutting-edge technologies such as 5G and AI systems.
5 MEC Use Cases
Using multi-access edge computing, many businesses and organisations operating in a variety of different commercial and industrial sectors are looking to both enhance their existing operations and tap into new ways in which they can improve and enhance their customer engagement and network environment. The following is our list of five multi-access edge computing use cases and their benefits.
1- Customer Services
With MEC enabling a wider range of customer services than ever before, businesses and enterprises in commercial sectors are beginning to utilise multi-access edge computing in order to both expand and improve their basic services as well as create the opportunity to bring in more revenue with newer services.
MEC can also provide these same businesses with enhanced situational awareness and the ability to access data and statistical analytics as well as report incidents and send out alarms and notification as and when the situation deems necessary. This, alongside the potential for unified communications among employees makes MEC an extremely attractive solution.
2- Augmented & Virtual Reality
Two of the hottest trends currently taking entertainment by storm are augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). The success of apps like Pokémon Go and the addition of virtual reality headsets to the vast majority of mainstream games consoles has seen the popularity of both AR and VR skyrocket and MEC technologies are being looked to in order to take AR and VR to the next level.
In order to function properly, both augmented and virtual reality require the fastest possible response times and low latency communications, making multi-access edge computing and ideal partner. This, alongside further development in the applications of AR and VR technologies, could bring about the next generation of gaming and entertainment systems.
3- Commercial Operations
Alongside the customer services side of things, multi-access edge computing is also currently being utilised for a wealth of commercial operations and as a way of enhancing and improving the everyday running of businesses and enterprises around the world.
From security and distribution to asset management and data routing, MEC has a role to play in all of them.
Using multi-access edge computing architectures provides network operators with advanced surveillance and video analytics that gather and collect data from much closer to the source, where it is processed, analysed, and then stored.
By processing this data locally, multi-access edge computing can also reduce the costs associated with data transportation and transfers.
4- Industrial IoT
One of the biggest transformations brought about by the expansion of the Internet of Things has occurred in the industrial sectors, in fact, IoT devices and operations that fall within this category are often referred to as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
As you would expect with industrial operations, safety has been one of the biggest areas of development for many IIoT devices.
Using multi-access edge computing technologies and the devices they enable can help to improve safety levels in industrial environments and provide analysts with real-time information regarding tools, equipment, machinery, vehicles and environmental factors in order to keep industrial workers safe.
As with the industrial Internet of Things, when it comes to emergency services, access to real-time data and information as well as a reliable means of communication can be the difference between safely responding to a situation and the unfolding of a disastrous situation.
Emergency responders and search and rescue teams need to be able to reliably and coherently communicate across networks that could potentially be flooded with other users trying to communicate with each other in the aftermath of a disaster or incident.
Multi-access edge computing technologies are now being used to ensure that this is the case and that the people willing to put their lives on the line to protect others are not doing so under-equipped to deal with the situations they are asked to attend.