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Telecom Infra Project Brings a New Approach to MEC

Telecom Infra Project is a US based initiative made up of tech giants to bring telecoms infrastructure 2.0 by changing access to backhaul, core and management. Andy Jones, who works for TIP on its TIP Echosystem Acceleration Center (TEAC) program, came by and shared his thoughts on TIP and how it ties in with edge computing.

Why is TIP focusing on edge computing?
TIP is focused on all areas of the network – from access to backhaul, to core and management – so it’s quite natural for us to also focus on edge computing.  Edge computing holds tremendous promise for carriers – particularly in the areas of 5G and IoT – and we believe that TIP’s Edge Computing Working Group and its members can play a significant role in helping carriers maximize its opportunity.

How will the edge group focus on lab and field implementations?
TIP’s Edge Computing Working Group will take advantage of the growing number of TIP Community Labs being established across the globe expressly for TIP working group members.  These well-equipped labs will allow TIP working group members to meet, test and refine the new project-related technologies and products they’re working on. The Edge Computing Working Group will use these labs to comprehensively and rigorously test its edge computing solutions to ensure they will function reliably and as designed in real-world deployments.

TIP founding member Deutsche Telekom just announced this week the launch of a Community Lab at its facilities in Bonn, Germany.  This joins a Community Lab at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California; with additional labs to come, including one that SK Telecom has committed to opening in South Korea.

How are you working to leverage open architecture, libraries, software stacks and MEC, into a platform?
TIP’s Edge Computing Work Group is committed to developing open solutions and hence we intend that the MEC platform we ultimately plan to deliver will itself be comprised of as many open hardware and software components as possible.  The members of the Edge Computing Working Group are currently working on defining and designing the platform.

What is the value of delivering an open media and service hub?
Maximizing their mobile edge computing resources and capabilities will allow carriers to greatly improve end users’ quality of experience (QoE) when watching videos and enjoying augmented reality (AR) applications.  Caching video and processing AR applications at the network edge, rather than relying entirely on the cloud, can eliminate – or at least minimize – the latency that can stall videos or ruin a Pokemon Go experience.

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Being architecture agnostic and avoiding influencing standards; why is the group working to be unbiased?
There are multiple standards bodies and initiatives in the areas of MEC and Fog computing – which overlap to some extent – and each of these organizations has its own slightly different goals, drivers and motivations.  Because of this, TIP’s Edge Computing Working Group needs to be agnostic to ensure that it can work effectively and seamlessly with other groups and the technologies, protocols and standards they’re creating.

How will the group influence 5G and IoT deployments?
5G is more than just another leap forward in radio technology. This alone is not enough to provide end-to-end low latency. You also need to overcome the delay involved in sending the users' traffic over hundreds or even thousands of kilometers of fiber to reach the cloud and the internet. This makes MEC a cornerstone of 5G as it can physically position selective content and applications closer to the user, ensuring the extremely low latency of packet delivery that many 5G applications will rely upon.

How will the group improve user quality of experience?
Ensuring lowest possible latency is a key goal of the TIP Edge Computing Working Group as latency is the primary cause of bad video and AR experiences for users.  In addition to designing the platform the group is developing for lowest latency, the group will also work on helping service providers identify and prioritize the videos (eg, House of Cards, etc.), video sources (eg, Netflix, YouTube, etc.) and other content and applications they push to the edge.  Keeping the most popular and resource hungry videos and applications at the edge will minimize the number of roundtrips required and keep latency low.

Are there any new revenue generation models identified yet?
The group is currently developing several edge computing use cases and associated revenue generation models. The group will provide more detail in the future, but a particularly compelling use case is to support IoT, which itself is a potentially huge revenue opportunity for carriers.  Beyond revenue generating opportunities, edge computing can also help carriers protect current revenue streams, particularly when it comes to video and other latency-sensitive applications. Ensuring an optimal QoE is a good way to keep end users happy and ARPU high.

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Why Has Edge Computing Not (as yet) Lived Up to its Hype?

  • How has the operator business model changed?
  • Analysing the use cases that have been successful
  • Finding collaborative opportunities – VR&AR provider, Video content providers
  • If not edge compute, what will we use?

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