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Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) is a key piece of the 5G architecture (or 5G type claims on a 4G RAN). MEC can already make a huge difference in video latency and quality for video streaming multiple feeds within a sporting environment. For example Intel, Nokia and China Mobile video streams of the Grand Prix at Shanghai International Circuit.

A 5G mobile operator will be introducing virtualised network functions as well as mobile edge computing infrastructure. This creates both opportunities and challenges. The opportunities are the major MEC use cases included context-aware services, localised content and computation, low latency services, in-building use cases and venue revenue uplift.

The challenges include providing the Mobile Edge Compute Platform in a virtualised 5G world. Mobile operators are not normally IaaS / PaaS providers so this may become a challenge.

The ETSI 2018 group report Deployment of Mobile Edge Computing in an NFV environment describes an architecture based on a virtualised Mobile Edge Platform and a Mobile Edge Platform Manager (MEPM-V). The Mobile Edge Platform runs on NFVI managed by a VIM. This in turn hosts the MEC applications.

MECETSI

The ETSI architecture seems perfectly logical and reuses the NFVO and NFVI components familiar to all virtualisations. In this architecture the NFVO and MEPM-V act as what ETSI calls the Mobile Edge Application Orchestrator” (MEAO) for managing MEC applications.  The MEAO uses NFVO for resource orchestration and for the element manager orchestration.

The difficulty still lies in implementing the appropriate technologies to suit the MEC use cases. Openstack (or others) may provide the NFVI and Open Source Mano (or others) may provide the NFVO; however what doesn’t exist is the service exposure, image management and software promotion necessary for a company to on-board MEC.

If MEC does take off what is the likelihood that AWS, GCP and Azure will extend their footprint into the telecom operators edge?