5G has rapidly risen to the top of the industry agenda. Leading service providers are working to finalize target network architectures for 5G RAN and mobile edge computing. The shift to virtualization has enabled service providers to host cloud services in large and hyperscale data centers but has not removed the need for localized computing resources for many applications including networking. Edge computing platforms fill this gap by providing server resources that can host applications closer to users, significantly reducing latency, improving service resilience and optimizing the use of network capacity. The edge computing concept, initially developed for 5G/LTE wireless networks within the ETSI Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) initiative, is now being extended in the market and through other groups such as TIP (Telecom Infra Project) to cover wireline networks, IoT and many latency sensitive applications.
While the 5G application space is vast, capex budgets are not. As the major service providers map out a sequence of winning applications, and revenues streams, they will define network architectures and mobile edge compute requirements. The MEC network element will be a key enabler of the 5G future. It will need to be highly flexible to meet the application needs, but not be overprovisioned and too costly for scale deployments.
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