Casa Systems and Google Cloud strengthen partnership to progress cloud-native 5G SA core, MEC, and mobile private networks

Andover, MA based Casa Systems [1.] today announced a strategic technology and distribution partnership with Google Cloud to further advance and differentiate Casa Systems and Google Cloud’s integrated cloud native software and service offerings. The partnership  provides for formalized and coordinated global sales, marketing, and support engagement, whereby Casa Systems and Google Cloud will offer Communication Service Providers (CSPs) and major enterprises integrated Google Cloud-Casa Systems solutions for cloud-native 5G core, 5G SA multi-access edge computing (MEC), and enterprise mobile private network use cases.  It’s yet another partnership between a telecom company and a cloud service provider (e.g. AWS, Azure are the other two) to produce cloud native services and software.

This new partnership enables Google Cloud and Casa Systems’ technical teams to engage deeply with one another to enable the seamless integration of Casa Systems’ cloud-native software solutions and network functions with Google Cloud, for best-in-class solution offerings with optimized ease-of-use and support for telecom and enterprise customers. Furthermore, Casa Systems and Google Cloud will also collaborate on the development of unique, new features and capabilities to provide competitive differentiation for the combined Google Cloud – Casa Systems solution offering. Additionally, this partnership provides the companies with a foundation on which to build more tightly coordinated and integrated sales efforts between Casa Systems and Google Cloud sales teams globally.

“We are delighted to formalize our partnership with Google Cloud and more quickly drive the adoption of our cloud-native 5G Core and 5G SA MEC solutions, as well as our other software solutions,” said Jerry Guo, Chief Executive Officer at Casa Systems. “This partnership provides the foundation for Casa Systems and Google Cloud’s continued collaboration, ensuring we remain at the cutting edge with our cloud-native, differentiated software solutions, and that the products and services we offer our customers are best-in-class and can be efficiently brought to market globally. We look forward to working with Google Cloud to develop and deliver the solutions customers need to succeed in the cloud, and to a long and mutually beneficial partnership.”

“We are pleased to formalize our relationship with Casa Systems with the announcement of this multifaceted strategic partnership,” said Amol Phadke, managing director and general manager, Global Telecom Industry, Google Cloud. “We have been working with Casa Systems for over two years and believe that they have a great cloud-native 5G software technology platform and team, and that they are a new leader in the cloud-native 5G market segment. The partnership will enable a much wider availability of premium solutions and services for our mutual telecommunications and enterprise customers and prospects.”

Casa also partnered with Google Cloud last year to integrate its 5G SA core with a hyperscaler public cloud, in order to deliver ultra-low latency applications.

Note 1. Casa Systems, Inc. delivers the core-to-customer building blocks to speed 5G transformation with future-proof solutions and cutting-edge bandwidth for all access types. In today’s increasingly personalized world, Casa Systems creates disruptive architectures built specifically to meet the needs of service provider networks. Our suite of open, cloud-native network solutions unlocks new ways for service providers to build networks without boundaries and maximizes revenue-generating capabilities. Commercially deployed in more than 70 countries, Casa Systems serves over 475 Tier 1 and regional service providers worldwide. For more information, please visit http://www.casa-systems.com.

Image Courtesy of Casa Systems

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References:

https://www.fiercetelecom.com/cloud/casa-systems-google-cloud-tout-combined-cloud-native-offering

https://www.fiercetelecom.com/tech/casa-systems-teams-google-to-deliver-cloud-native-5g-standalone-core

SK Telecom launches 2nd 5G edge zone in Seoul using AWS Wavelength

SK Telecom has deployed its second 5G edge zone in Seoul, which enables 5G-connected cloud services with ultra-low latency using multi-access edge computing (MEC) [1.], the South Korean telecom company said on Tuesday.  SKT’s 5G edge zone is based on Amazon Web Services (AWS) Wavelength [2,].  This 5G edge zone in Seoul is the second launched by  SK Telecom, following the one in Daejeon established in December, 2020.

Note 1. MEC refers to technologies that bring computation capabilities and data storage closer to user endpoint devices. It is of critical importance in reducing end to end 5G latency.

Note 2. Amazon’s Wavelength embeds AWS compute and storage services at the edge of communications service providers’ 5G networks while providing seamless access to cloud services running in an AWS Region. By doing so, AWS Wavelength minimizes the latency and network hops required to connect from a 5G device to an application hosted on AWS. With AWS Wavelength and SK Telecom 5G, application developers can now build the ultra-low latency applications needed for use cases like smart factories, interactive live streaming, autonomous vehicles, connected hospitals, and augmented and virtual reality-enhanced experiences.

In 2019, Verizon, Vodafone, SKT and KDDI were among the first operators to partner with AWS to develop commercial edge computing services running on 5G networks.

SK Telecom said that its second edge zone will enhance the efficiency of  5G cloud services, as edge computing workloads will be shared out between the Seoul zone and the Daejeon zone.

The Seoul zone will cover network traffic coming from the top half of the country including the greater Seoul area while the Daejeon zone will cover the rest. Before the Seoul edge zone was set up, the Daejeon edge zone had covered all network traffics across the country.

SK Telecom said that its “SK Edge Discovery” system will automatically allocate the edge zone based on users’ current location.

SKT recently unveiled an enterprise 5G MEC solution called Petasus‘ in collaboration with Dell Technologies.  The Petasus 5G MEC solution combines SKT’s 5G MEC solution and Dell PowerEdge servers. It provides network virtualization features specialized for MEC and operational tools. Going forward, the solution will support integration with MEC solutions of other telcos and provide an app store-like feature for MEC services applications.

As a solution that reflects SKT’s extensive experience in 5G MEC commercialization and operation, the platform can be provided in a customized manner. Going forward, it will enable enterprises to deploy MEC in a prompt and stable manner by supporting interworking with public clouds.

SKT and Dell  plan to provide the Petasus solution not only to global telcos, but also to businesses and public institutions throughout the globe that plan to adopt private 5G networks. In particular, they will strengthen their cooperation in 5G end-to-end business, which includes consulting, infrastructure deployment and maintenance services.

References:

https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/2022/06/07/business/tech/Korea-SK-Telecom-AWS/20220607160029435.html

https://aws.amazon.com/about-aws/whats-new/2022/05/aws-wavelength-zone-seoul/

https://www.sktelecom.com/en/press/press_detail.do?page.page=1&idx=1534&page.type=all&page.keyword=

 

SK Telecom and AWS launch 5G edge cloud service and collaborate on other projects

Posted in MEC Tagged

Dell’Oro: Mobile Core Network market driven by 5G SA networks in China

According to a recently published report from Dell’Oro Group, the total Mobile Core Network (MCN) and Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) market revenues for 1Q 2022 rebounded to a positive year-over-year (Y/Y) growth rate after the decrease in 4Q 2021 which was the first decrease since 4Q 2017.

The MCN market growth was driven by an extremely high double-digit percentage Y/Y revenue growth rate in the 5G MCN market overcoming the Y/Y revenue declines in the 4G MCN and IMS Core markets. For the MCN market regionally, the China region had a high growth rate while the MCN market excluding China had a negative growth rate for the quarter.

“With the continued aggressive build-out of 5G Standalone (SA) networks in China, the China region in 1Q 2022 substantially increased its share of the 5G MCN market over last quarter,’ stated Dave Bolan, Research Director at Dell’Oro Group. “At the end of 1Q 2022, we have identified 25 Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) that have commercially launched 5G SA Mobile Broadband networks (MBB) with services available to consumers. The 5G Core vendors (in alphabetical order) include Cisco, Ericsson, Huawei, NEC, Nokia, Samsung, and ZTE. We have identified 150 MNOs with 5G Core contracts with the above vendors plus Mavenir. There are still more 5G Core contracts that vendors have acknowledged without revealing the associated MNOs.

We see fewer 5G Core network launches slated for 2022 as compared to 2021 when 16 networks were launched. However, many are being readied for 2023 launches and we project mid-single-digit percentage Y/Y growth rates for the balance of 2022. One of the most anticipated and publicized 5G Core launches is Dish Wireless – the first to run 5G Core on the Public Cloud. The company is preparing to launch in many cities by mid-June 2022 to meet regulatory coverage requirements. In early May 2022, Dish had a soft launch in its first city, Las Vegas. Nokia is the primary 5G Core vendor.

“Multi-access Edge Computing deployed by MNOs has barely scratched the surface in spite of all the hype, except for the China region, which has deployed thousands of MEC nodes throughout their MNO networks, with a mix of Public MEC and Private MEC sites,” continued Bolan.

Additional highlights from the 1Q 2022 Mobile Core Network and Multi-Access Edge Computing Report:

  • The top two vendors for the MCN, 4G MCN, and IMS Core markets were Huawei and Ericsson.
  • The top two vendors for the 5G MCN market were Huawei and ZTE.
  • Nokia and Ericsson had the highest Y/Y growth rates for the 5G MCN market coming from a low small base. However, Huawei had the highest dollar revenue gain, with a lower Y/Y growth rate coming from a larger base.

About the Report

The Dell’Oro Group Mobile Core Network & Multi-Access Edge Computing Quarterly Report offers complete, in-depth coverage of the market with tables covering manufacturers’ revenue, shipments, and average selling prices for Evolved Packet Core, 5G Packet Core, Policy, Subscriber Data Management, and IMS Core including licenses by Non-NFV and NFV, and by geographic regions. To purchase this report, please contact us at [email protected].

Softbank launches 5G MEC in Japan using its 5G SA core network

SoftBank announced that it has deployed a 5G Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) site in the Kanto region of Japan.  The multi-national conglomerate said it has started the nationwide deployment of MEC servers in Japan this month (May 2022).   SoftBank claims its 5G MEC delivers a low-latency and secure service experience by using its 5G SA core network with compute servers at the network’s edge.  The 5G MEC offering now makes it possible for customers to experience high-speed services through the deployment of applications close to user devices within the 5G SA network, which significantly reduces server access times.

SoftBank’s 5G MEC platform provides a Kubernetes-based container environment [1.] which is a de facto platform for application development. From physical infrastructure set-up to application deployment and distribution, 5G MEC sites are automated. Such features make applications on the 5G MEC platform more fault-tolerant, and they also enable faster service rollout with reduced complexity, improving a variety of industry services such as emergency notifications, in-building IoT-based network deployments, factory automation, multi-user network gaming and automated driving, among others.

Note 1.  Kubernetes is a portable, extensible, open source platform for managing containerized workloads and services, that facilitates both declarative configuration and automation.

“This deployment of 5G MEC is a major milestone for SoftBank. Its compatibility with SRv6 MUP and network slicing, along with its automation of operation features, make it unique across the industry. With our partners, we’ll develop a multi-industry ecosystem to become a complete digital platform provider by harnessing the capabilities of our 5G MEC solution,” said Keiichi Makizono, SoftBank Corp. Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer (CIO).

Source: GSMA

Source: Softbank

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Comments from partners supporting Softbank’s 5G MEC are as follows:

“SoftBank is committed to enabling the digital transformation of companies and organizations across all sectors, and we are honored to have been selected as a cloud partner in this aim. We share with SoftBank a vision where modern applications must integrate seamlessly with cloud operations to create exceptional end user experiences. We look forward to further enabling SoftBank to execute on this vision, for their cloud native customers’ use cases in and beyond 5G,” said Ankur Singla, SVP, Security & Distributed Cloud Product Group, F5. [F5 is a strategic partner for SoftBank that has worked jointly on strategic initiatives including SRv6 and 5G MEC, commented on 5G MEC].

“Corezero is excited to join SoftBank’s 5G MEC initiative. Corezero enables Logging-as-a-Service. Our flagship product FFWD is a real-time observability system built using cutting edge software to achieve true Ingest-Query-Separation, and Compute-Storage-Separation: an architecture type that best serves the modern high-volume log flows and query profiles in highly distributed cloud environments. We are looking forward to working with SoftBank to provide Logging-as-a-Service (LaaS) starting from their 5G MEC enhanced with low-cost programmability,” said Yee Soon, CEO, Corezero.

“Niantic has been working with SoftBank on promotions for our AR/location-based game titles, as well as network optimization at our live events, etc. We believe that SoftBank’s nationwide deployment of 5G MEC will open up new possibilities not only for our game titles but also for developers and creators who use Niantic Lightship ARDK, which will lead to the creation of an innovative AR experience from Japan to the world in the future,” said Setsuto Murai, President, Niantic Japan.

“Vantiq is excited to be part of SoftBank’s 5G MEC program, which is bringing significant value to the communications industry. The combination of SoftBank’s Digital Platform, which provides the necessary edge-computing infrastructure, and Vantiq’s real-time distributed processing capabilities, will help drive market innovation and disruption through the creation of mission-critical, ultra low-latency business applications,” said Marty Sprinzen, CEO, Vantiq.

“We are very excited about the Kubernetes (k8) container technology-based SoftBank 5G MEC roll out. MIXI is actively utilizing the k8-based container platform for future microservice based application development. By utilizing 5G MEC distributed all over Japan with a high affinity with mobile networking, we aim for further innovation in the sports entertainment area along with other futuristic applications,” said Junpei Yoshino, Chief General Manager, Development Operations, mixi, Inc.

“Yahoo! JAPAN is proactively trying to adopt new technologies to provide safe, secure, and comfortable services to a wide range of customers. Therefore, we are paying close attention to the expansion of SoftBank 5G MEC, which will enhance the possibility of our services by providing CSP infrastructure closer to our customers’ mobile devices with higher network reliability, significantly reduced processing speed, and ease of deployment through container infrastructure. We also expect MEC sites distributed around the world to be a powerful advantage when we, the content service providers, expand our business all over the world. We have high expectations for SoftBank to lead this important platform,” said Masahiko Kokubo, Director, EVP, Managing Corporate Officer, CTO, Yahoo Japan Corporation.

“The JCV face recognition platform is widely adopted at thousands of retail shops and entertainment venues. To provide customers with highly accurate AR experiences using spatial image recognition at commercial facilities and stadiums Real-time computing processing using SoftBank’s upcoming 5G MEC will enable us to provide our customers with increased accuracy and ultra-low latency. We are confident that, with SoftBank 5G MEC, this will fuel the creation of a metaverse platform linking online and offline,” said Andrew Schwabecher, CEO of Japan Computer Vision Corp.

“We are very much excited about SoftBank’s 5G MEC deployment which will play a vital role in realizing distributed computing necessary for advanced digital society. Using SRv6 for networking will make SoftBank’s 5G MEC even more optimal and easy to deploy at remote locations. By utilizing our regional Internet eXchanges (IX), BBIX with its valued partners will deliver the optimal network platform for the Digital Twin [2.] era,” said Hidetoshi Ikeda, Representative Director, President & CEO, BBIX, Inc.

Note 2.  Digital twin is a technology that collects information in real space via IoT, etc. and reproduces real space in cyber space based on the transmitted data.
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Other Notes:
  • In October 2021, SoftBank announced that it had started to offer 5G Standalone (SA) network services. With this new launch, SoftBank claimed to be the first carrier in Japan to offer 5G SA commercial services.  At that time, the company said that the most important features of 5G SA networks are their ability to deliver network slicing and Private 5G networks, which are customized networks tailored to individual enterprise needs, and other connectivity features based on advanced technologies.
  • Softbank had initially launched commercial 5G services in Japan through NSA architecture in March 2020.
  • In April 2021, Softbank launched Japan’s first 5G global roaming service.
  • According to Statistica, Softbank had a 20.8% share (# 3) of Japan’s mobile subscribers in 2021.  NTT DoComo led with a 37% market share, while KDDI was in second place with a 27.2% market share.
  • Softbank’s history is here.

References:

https://www.softbank.jp/en/corp/news/press/sbkk/2022/20220526_01/

https://www.softbank.jp/en/corp/news/press/sbkk/2021/20211019_01/

https://www.softbank.jp/en/corp/aboutus/profile/history/

Bell Canada deploys the first AWS Wavelength Zone at the edge of its 5G network

In yet another tie-up between telcos and cloud computing giants, Bell Canada is the first Canadian network operator to launch multi-access edge computing (MEC) services using Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) Wavelength platform.

Building on Bell’s agreement with AWS, announced last year, together the two companies are deploying AWS Wavelength Zones throughout the country at the edge of Bell’s 5G network starting in Toronto.

The Bell Canada Public MEC service embeds AWS compute and software defined storage capabilities at the edge of Bell’s 5G network.

The Wavelength technology is then tied into AWS cloud regions that host the applications. This moves access closer to the end user or device to lower latency and increase performance for services such as real-time visual data processing, augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR), artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML), and advanced robotics.

 

 

 

 

Source: Bell Canada

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“Because that link between the application and the edge device is a completely controllable link – it doesn’t involve the internet, doesn’t involve these multiple hops of the traffic to reach the application – it allows us to have a very particular controlled link that can give you different quality of service,” explained George Elissaios, director and GM for EC2 Core Product Management at AWS, during a briefing call with analysts.

 

Network infrastructure is the backbone for Canadian businesses today as they innovate and advance in the digital age. Organizations across retail, transportation, manufacturing, media & entertainment and more can unlock new growth opportunities with 5G and MEC to be more agile, drive efficiency, and transform customer experiences.

 

Optimized for MEC applications, AWS Wavelength deployed on service providers’ 5G networks provides seamless access to cloud services running in AWS Regions. By doing so, AWS Wavelength minimizes the latency and network hops required to connect from a 5G device to an application hosted on AWS. AWS Wavelength is now available in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, South Korea, and Japan in partnership with global communications service providers.

 

Creating an immersive shopping experience with Bell Canada 5G:

 

Increasingly, retailers want to offer omni-channel shopping experiences so that consumers can access products, offers, and support services on the channels, platforms, and devices they prefer. For instance, there’s a growing appetite for online shopping to replicate the in store experience – particularly for apparel retailers. These kinds of experiences require seamless connectivity so that customers can easily and immediately pick up on a channel after they leave another channel to continue the experience. These experiences also must be optimized for high-quality viewing and interactivity.

 

Rudsak worked with Bell and AWS to deploy Summit Tech’s immersive shopping platform, Odience, to offer its customers an immersive and seamless virtual shopping experience with live sales associates and the ability to see merchandise up close. With 360-degree cameras at its pop-up locations and launch events, Rudsak customers can browse the racks and view a new product line via their smartphones or VR headsets from either the comfort of their own home or while on the go. To find out more, please click here.

Bell Canada Public MEC with AWS Wavelength is now available in the Toronto area, with additional Wavelength Zones to be deployed in the future. To find out more, please visit: Bell.ca/publicmec

AWS currently has Wavelength customers (see References below) in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, South Korea, Japan, and now Canada. It also has deals with Verizon, Vodafone, SK Telecom, and Dish Network.

Bell Canada explained that the service is targeted at enterprise customers. It will initially offer services to enterprises in Toronto, with expansion planned into other major Canadian markets.

Quotes:

“We’re excited to partner with AWS to bring together Bell’s 5G network leadership with the world’s leading cloud and AWS’ robust portfolio of compute and storage services. With general availability of AWS Wavelength Zones on Canada’s fastest network, it becomes possible for businesses to tap into all-new capabilities, reaching new markets and serving customers in exciting new ways. With our help, customers are thinking bigger, innovating faster and pushing boundaries like never before. Our team of experts are with customers every step of the way on their digital transformation journey. With our ongoing investments in supporting emerging MEC use cases, coupled with our end-to-end security built into our 5G network, we are able to give Canadian businesses a platform to innovate, harness the power of 5G and drive competitiveness for their businesses.”

–  Jeremy Wubs, Senior Vice President of Product, Marketing and Professional Services, Bell Business Markets

“AWS Wavelength brings the power of the world’s leading cloud to the edge of 5G networks so that customers like Rudsak, Tiny Mile and Drone Delivery Canada can build highly performant applications that transform consumers’ experiences. We are particularly excited about our deep collaboration with Bell as it accelerates innovation across Canada, by offering access to 5G edge technology to the whole AWS ecosystem of partners and customers. This enables any enterprise or developer with an AWS account to power new kinds of mobile applications that require ultra-low latencies, massive bandwidth, and high speeds.”

–  George Elissaios, Director and General Manager, EC2 Core Product Management, AWS

“With Bell’s Public MEC and AWS Wavelength we are able to offer new, fully immersive shopping experiences to our customers. Shoppers can virtually explore our new arrivals and interact in real-time with our staff and industry experts during interactive events and pop-ups. Thanks to the hard work, support and expertise of Bell, AWS and Summit Tech, we were able to successfully deliver our first immersive/interactive shopping event with the quality, innovation and excellence that our brand is known for.”

–  Evik Asatoorian, President and Founder, Rudsak

“Canadian organizations across all industries are transforming their workflows by harnessing the power of new technologies to launch new products and services. In fact, 85% of Canadian businesses are already using the Internet of Things (IoT). In order to maximize the benefits of cloud computing, intelligent endpoints and AI, while adding emerging technologies like 5G, we need to modernize our digital infrastructure to embrace multi-access edge computing (MEC). Modernized edge computing interconnects core, cloud and diverse edge sites, enabling CIOs and business leaders to optimize their architectures to resolve technical challenges around latency, bandwidth and compute power, financial concerns about cloud ingress/egress and compute costs as well as governance issues such as regulatory compliance without losing advanced features like machine learning, AI and analytics. MEC offers the possibility of deploying modernized, cloud-like resources everywhere to support the ability to extract value from data.”

–  Nigel Wallis, Research VP, Canadian Industries and IoT, IDC Canada

Quick facts
  • Bell is the first Canadian telecommunications company to offer AWS-powered public MEC to business customers
  • First AWS Wavelength Zone to launch in the Toronto region, with additional locations in Canada to follow
  • Apparel retailer Rudsak among the first to leverage Bell Public MEC with AWS Wavelength to deliver an immersive virtual shopping experience
Links
About Bell

Bell is Canada’s largest communications company, providing advanced broadband wireless, TV, Internet, media and business communication services throughout the country. Founded in Montréal in 1880, Bell is wholly owned by BCE Inc. To learn more, please visit Bell.ca or BCE.ca.

References:

https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/bell-and-amazon-web-services-bring-5g-edge-compute-to-canada-893347247.html

https://www.sdxcentral.com/articles/interview/bell-canada-5g-edge-embedded-on-amazon-wavelength/2022/04/

AWS looks to dominate 5G edge with telco partners that include Verizon, Vodafone, KDDI, SK Telecom

Verizon, AWS and Bloomberg media work on 4K video streaming over 5G with MEC

AWS deployed in Digital Realty Data Centers at 100Gbps & for Bell Canada’s 5G Edge Computing

Amazon AWS and Verizon Business Expand 5G Collaboration with Private MEC Solution

Moody’s skeptical on 5G monetization; Heavy Reading: hyperscalers role in MEC and telecom infrastructure

In a recent “Top of Mind” series report, Moody’s said, “The adoption of 5G is gaining momentum. Yet we question how fast companies can roll out 5G and the ability to generate revenue from applications based on 5G technology.”

“We do not expect material revenue increases in the global telecom sector from 5G in the 2022-2025 period. This is because 5G will mainly evolve around enhanced mobile broadband, which will be broadly similar to 4G.”

 

Wireless network operators have invested heavily in 5G spectrum, network infrastructure upgrades and  the credit rating and financial research firm concludes global carriers’ capex will continue to rise through 2025.  That’s despite more tepid carrier capex forecasts from Dell’Oro Group and others.

“Global capex growth is expected to moderate from 9 percent in 2021 to 3 percent in 2022, before tapering off in 2023 and 2024,” wrote Stefan Pongratz of Dell’Oro.

Wireless carriers’ capex as a share of revenue leveled off at 16% globally in 2019 and 2020, inched up to 17% in 2021, and is expected to hit 18% for the next four years, according to Moody’s.

Wireless telcos have cumulatively spent $200 billion globally on 5G spectrum to date, according to Moody’s, and GSMA predicts operators will invest about $510 billion on 5G-related infrastructure and services from 2022 to 2025.

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On the income side of the ledger, wireless carriers have experienced a prolonged period of flat to declining revenue. Rising costs and flat revenue portends a rough four-year stretch for operators, and there’s little to suggest that dynamic will change by 2026.  One analyst said the only real revenue generator for wireless telcos in the last few years has been selling their cell towers!

The largely unmet promise of 5G, with no real “killer apps,” follows previous disappointments for carriers in the 3G and 4G time periods.  Indeed, they did not make any money of mobile apps, cloud computing/storage, interactive gaming, edge computing or really any value added services.

“This phase carries the greatest uncertainty about companies’ capital spending. As a result, we remain cautious when projecting revenue growth derived from 5G until there is clarity on the business case, especially given the lessons of limited monetization of 4G and 3G,” Moody’s analysts wrote.

Specialized services for enterprises continue to be the most compelling use cases for 5G, and additional IoT applications could drive incremental revenue gains after 2025 but those are unlikely to justify carriers’ significant 5G investments, the financial research firm said.

While ultra low latency might be important (assuming 3GPP release 16 “URLLC in the RAN” spec is completed, performance tested and deployed),  the resulting “almost immediate network response time is only relevant in specialized use cases, Indeed, it has become apparent that the most compelling use cases for 5G revolve around businesses rather than residential consumers,” the Moody’s analysts wrote.

“The wide array of potential applications — such as autonomous vehicles, robotics, and smart homes — places different demands on networks in terms of speed and latency, in contrast to previous generations that focused on one major advance, such as broadband mobile video with 4G or web browsing with 3G,” the analysts wrote.

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Moody’s missed a very crucial point related to 5G revenues: that the hyperscalers (Amazon, Microsoft, Google) will get an increasing share of 5G SA core network services and MEC revenues.  That’s because of the partnerships wireless carriers have made with the big cloud service providers.

Heavy Reading noted that in a recent blog post. Heavy Reading conducted a survey in collaboration with Accedian, Kontron and Red Hat. The survey questioned 82 communications service providers (CSPs) that have launched edge computing solutions or are planning to do so within 24 months. One of the objectives of the survey was to examine the go-to-market strategies of the CSP and the role the hyperscalers have assumed in those strategies.

Hyperscalers have introduced dedicated edge products and embedded their software stack into operator infrastructure, including Internet of Things (IoT) devices and network gateways. They have introduced products dedicated to the telco market, such as Wavelength from Amazon Web Services (AWS), Azure Edge Zones from Microsoft and Anthos for Telecom from Google Cloud. According to Heavy Reading’s survey results, their efforts have paid off, as CSPs have unquestionably decided to partner with hyperscalers in their multi-access edge computing (MEC) services.

Q: Why do you plan to partner with a hyperscaler to deliver your edge computing? Select up to three. (n=82)

Source: Heavy Reading

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Heavy Reading’s most recent edge computing survey determined that the pivot to improved customer experience is the key goal of edge network deployments and that CSPs must clear new paths to achieve this goal. They must do so by:

  • Leaning into automation, particularly in overall lifecycle management.
  • Building in comprehensive security protections from the design phase forward.
  • Enhancing performance control through automation and AI. CSPs’ growing collaborations with hyperscalers are key to achieving these goals and improving ease of deployment, accelerating time-to-market and enhancing cloud-based security.

Heavy Reading’s survey results show that carriers have committed to edge computing and are progressing rapidly with implementations. The deployment of edge computing brings with it issues of scale and complexity. CSPs are most concerned with overall network performance and security. In fact, those companies that have already deployed the edge have a heightened concern about these issues. They are looking for help from their traditional vendor and integrator partners, from their network monitoring and assurance tools and from the hyperscalers.

References:

https://www.sdxcentral.com/articles/analysis/5g-hype-hits-greatest-uncertainty-phase-for-carriers/2022/04/

https://www.lightreading.com/the-edge/new-report-underscores-amplified-role-of-hyperscalers-in-carrier-edge-deployments/a/d-id/776678?

Omdia: Regulatory activity to impact telecom in 2022; Global 5G status

According to market research dynamo Omdia, 2022 will be rife with regulatory activity that will impact the telecommunications market for years to come.

“As technology evolves, regulation will become more important than ever in the TMT industry,” said Sarah McBride, senior analyst for regulation at Omdia.

Omdia identified several trends it says will be “at the heart of regulatory activity” next year, including spectrum licensing, fiber networks, the digital divide and 6G (even though 5G spectrum has not been standardized by ITU-R in a revision to M.1036).

Regarding the digital divide (between the broadband haves and have nots), Omdia says “governments should learn from the pandemic and recognize the need for these broadband services to be affordable to all.”

The Omdia analysts say that governments must define a “comprehensive national digital strategy that includes providing state-aid tools to improve broadband availability and affordability.”

Such a strategy should go beyond deployment to “ensure citizens can use connectivity transformatively to bring about innovation and growth.” Doing so will encourage more deployment and investment, writes Omdia.

However, to avoid too much government intervention, Omdia also stresses the need for cooperation by service providers.

“Experience shows that market-led development, not a reliance on government intervention, is the most effective model for effective allocation of resources. However, economic viability is lower in some rural and sparsely populated areas than in populous areas,” Omdia said.  The firm  recommends that network operators collaborate by sharing infrastructure to reduce deployment costs and create shared wireless networks to “remove the need for regulators to set ambitious coverage obligations as part of spectrum licenses or universal service obligations.”

According to Omdia’s tracker for 5G networks, more than 150 5G networks have been launched around the world to date, which the research firm says will continue to drive demand for more spectrum.

“5G will profoundly affect society because of its ultrafast speeds, low latency, and high reliability, which enable digital transformation and support new use cases,” writes Omdia.

Regulators need to effectively manage spectrum allocation, “allowing access to the right amount of internationally harmonized spectrum (e.g., 700MHz, 3.6GHz, and 26GHz bands in the EU) in a timely manner to keep costs down.”

As operators continue to build out their 5G networks, Omdia tells policymakers it’s important to plan ahead on 6G standards, given the role these networks will play in the digital economy and the danger posed by a lack of cohesion.

Specifically, the firm warns against further splintering the telecom and Internet ecosystem, or what it calls “the splinternet.”

“It is especially important that regulators and policymakers prepare for future network generations by ensuring agreement is reached on 6G standards. A fragmentation of standards must be avoided to prevent any further separation of the telecoms and internet ecosystem, a ‘splinternet’,” writes Omdia.

Acknowledging that plans for 6G are in their infancy, Omdia further tells policymakers to begin identifying appropriate spectrum bands, though it notes that such plans “will need to be balanced with the need to release spectrum for 5G.”

Part of the rush to deploy high-speed internet everywhere includes a migration to fiber, whether through new builds or upgrades of existing cable networks. Omdia says that as network operators migrate to fiber, regulators should focus on promoting competition, pricing strategies and raising awareness amongst consumers about fiber access.

The firm further states that regulators should include fiber access in wholesale obligations, “once sufficient fiber coverage is reached.”

It’s important for network operators to collaborate with regulators on network upgrade plans and give wholesale customers advance warning to avoid disruption.

“Operators need to give their wholesale customers a sufficient notice period when withdrawing copper networks. This includes providing formal notifications that outline the timeframes involved, the replacement products on offer, and the new price terms,” writes Omdia.

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In a separate report titled, 2022 Trends to Watch: Global 5G, Omdia says that 5G network rollouts are still in the early stages, especially in developing regions.

“But there are compelling reasons for telcos to commit to 5G so they can differentiate around an improved network experience, as well as realize network efficiencies and lower operating costs. Moreover, 5G’s enhancements over 4G – most noticeably speed and latency – will come to be appreciated by consumers more next year as an increasing number of data-intensive services and applications become popular in the mass market,” the research firm said.

“A surprise to many next year may be the rapid emergence of satellite to augment telcos’ terrestrial network coverage,” Omdia observed.

“A key driver for hybrid satellite-cellular deployments is the need for ubiquitous high-speed data coverage, something which telcos can greatly benefit from if their rivals’ 5G network coverage remains patchy.”

Major telcos including BT, Deutsche Telekom, Telecom Italia and Verizon signed significant deals with satellite internet providers in 2021 to offer a hybrid approach to targeted residential, enterprise and industrial markets.

Omdia believes that the likely success of these satellite internet initiatives could jump-start a flurry of new activity in this area in 2022.

“Although most end users aren’t rushing to buy 5G, the quality of their network experience in terms of reliability, speed, and coverage is increasingly important to them. As such, 5G offers telcos a better opportunity than 4G to differentiate, especially for ones that can claim they offer the best-in-market network experience,” Omdia said.

Omdia thinks that partnership strategies will be even more important for telco 5G success in 2022.

“How good telcos are at partnering, whether for content, service, or technology development, will increasingly define how successful they are in consumer, enterprise, and industrial markets. Because of its enhanced capabilities over 4G, 5G enables telcos to offer much more, and they will have to partner effectively to capitalize on this.”

“Except for 5G MEC (really ?), the ecosystem and markets for advanced 5G technologies are still in their infancy. However, 5G front-runners are already launching them, placing them in a strong position to gain a first-mover advantage when the market is ready to adopt them,” Omdia said.

References:

https://www.broadbandworldnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=774240&

https://www.lightreading.com/5g/device-upgrades-to-drive-5g-growth-in-2022-andndash-omdia/d/d-id/774276?

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2021/12/18/etsi-mec-standard-explained-part-ii/

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2021/12/15/multi-access-edge-computing-mec-market-applications-and-technology-part-i/

ETSI MEC Standard Explained – Part II

by Dario Sabella, Intel, ETSI MEC Chair

Introduction:

This is Part II of a two part article series on MEC.  Part I may be accessed here.

Access to Local and Central Data Networks (DN):

Figure 5. below illustrates an example of how concurrent access to local and central DN (Data Networks) works.  In this scenario, the same UP session allows the UE to obtain content  from both the local server and central server (service continuity is enabled by IP address anchoring at the centralized UPF, with no impact on UE by using Uplink Classifier -ULCL).

Figure 5. Concurrent access to local and central Data Networks (DN)

In this context it is assumed that MEC is deployed on the N6 reference point, i.e. in a data network external to the 5G system. This is enabled by flexibility in locating the UPF. The distributed MEC host can accommodate, apart from MEC apps, a message broker as a MEC platform service, and another MEC platform service to steer traffic to local accelerators. Logically MEC hosts are deployed in the edge or central data network and it is the User Plane Function (UPF) that takes care of steering the user plane traffic towards the targeted MEC applications in the data network.

The locations of the data networks and the UPF are a choice of the network operator who may choose to place the physical computing resources based on technical and business parameters (such as available site facilities, supported applications and their requirements, measured or estimated user load etc). The MEC management system, orchestrating the operation of MEC hosts and applications, may decide dynamically where to deploy the MEC applications.

In terms of physical deployment of MEC hosts, there are multiple options available based on various operational, performance or security related requirements (for more details, see the ETSI paper “MEC in 5G networks” [6] and the more recent study on “MEC 5G integration” [7]).

Moving forward with 5G (3GPP Release 17 onwards):

Given the increase of 5G adoption, and the progressive migration of network operators towards 5G SA (Stand Alone) networks this above MEC deployment is naturally becoming a long-term option considering the evolution of the networks. A major joint opportunity for MEC 5G integration, is on one hand for MEC to benefit from the edge computing enablers of the 5G system specification, and for 3GPP ecosystem to benefit from the MEC system and its APIs as a set of complementary capabilities to enable applications and services environm5 ents in the very edge of mobile networks. IN this perspective, also in the view of more mature 5G deployments, ETSI MEC is aligning with 3GPP SA6, defining from Rel.17 an EDGEAPP architecture (ref. 3GPP TS 23.558).

In this perspective, an ETSI white paper [3] provides some first information on this ongoing alignment, which is introducing a Synergized Mobile Edge Cloud architecture supported by 3GPP and ETSI ISG MEC specifications. This is an ongoing alignment, also in the view of future Rel.18 networks, and with respect to MEC federation and the related expansion (for MEC Phase 3 specifications) from intra-MEC communication to inter-MEC and MEC-Cloud coordination (as depicted in Figure 6). A very first study in this field has been published by ETSI MEC with the ETS GR 035 report [8].

Figure 6.  MEC Phase 3: Expansion from intra-MEC to inter-MEC and MEC-Cloud

The MEC 035 study on “Inter-MEC systems and MEC-Cloud systems” was a major effort in ETSI MEC, mainly driven by the need of operators to form federated MEC environments.  For example, to achieve V2X (vehicle to X) service continuity in multi-operator scenarios, to enable edge resource sharing among the federating members, and in general offer edge computing infrastructure as an asset to provide global services benefiting of better performance and low latency environments.  Many use cases in MEC 035 are in need of MEC federation.  Many are also based on the ETSI MEC requirements in MEC 002 (e.g. use cases like “V2X multi-stakeholder scenario” and “Multi-player immersive AR game,” among others).

This work carefully aligns with a GSMA publication introducing requirements for their “Operator Platform” concept.  [The GSMA Operator Platform defines a common platform exposing operator services/capabilities to customers/developers in the 5G-era in a connect once, connect to many models. The first phase of the platform focuses on Edge which will be expanded in future phases with other capabilities such as connectivity, slicing and IPComms.]  In this scenario, multiple operators will federate their edge computing infrastructure to give application providers access to a global edge cloud which may then run innovative, distributed and low latency services through a set of common APIs.

Currently ETSI MEC is working on the related normative work to enable and support this concept of MEC Federation, by defining a suitable MEC architecture variant in MEC GS 003, updating other impacted MEC specifications in Phase 3, and by introducing proper “MEC Federation Enablement APIs” (MEC GS 040) [9].

Enablement of MEC Deployment and Ecosystem Development:

MEC adoption is critical for the ecosystem. In this perspective, ETSI ISG MEC has established a WG DECODE dedicated to MEC Deployment and Ecosystem engagement activities. As a part of that (but not limited to it!) MEC is publishing and maintaining a MEC Wiki page (mecwiki.etsi.org), including links to several examples of MEC adoption from the ecosystem:

  • MEC Ecosystem, with 3rd party MEC Applications and Solutions
  • Proof of Concepts (PoCs), with a list and description of past and ongoing PoCs, including the ISG MEC PoC Topics and PoC Framework (and Information about process, criteria, templates….)
  • MEC Deployment Trials (MDTs), with a list and description of past and ongoing MDTs (and the MDT Framework, clarifying how to participate)

Additionally, the MEC Wiki also includes: information on MEC Hackathons, MEC Sandbox, OpenAPI publications for ETSI MEC ISG API specifications, and outreach activities (e.g. MEC Tech Series of video and podcasts).

Summary and Conclusions:

  • MEC (Multi-access Edge Computing) “offers to application developers and content providers cloud-computing capabilities and an IT service environment at the edge of the network” (see Ref 1. below).
  • The nature of the ETSI MEC Standard (as emphasized by the term “Multi-access” in the MEC acronym) is access agnostic and can be applicable to any kind of deployment, from Wi-Fi to fixed networks.
  • MEC is also serving multiple use cases and providing an open and flexible standard, in support of multiple deployment options, especially for 5G networks.
  • MEC is focused on Applications at the Edge, and the specified MEC service APIs include meaningful information exposed to application developers at the network edge, ranging from RNI (Radio Network Information) API (MEC 012), WLAN API (MEC 029), Fixed Access API (MEC 028), Location API (MEC 013), Traffic Management APIs (MEC015) and many others. Additionally, new APIs (compliant with the basic MEC API principles) can be added, without the need for ETSI standardization.
  • The ongoing ETSI MEC work in alignment with 3GPP includes aspects related to MEC 5G Integration and future evolution, including the standardization work on MEC Federation.  Also, carefully aligning the MEC work with requirements from GSMA OPG (Operator Platform Group).

Finally, since MEC adoption is critical for the IT ecosystem, ETSI ISG MEC has established a WG dedicated to MEC Deployment and Ecosystem engagement activities.

There is also a dedicated MEC Wiki page (mecwiki.etsi.org) which provides several examples of MEC adoption from the ecosystem (PoCs, trials, MEC implementations).  It also includes information on MEC Hackathons, MEC Sandbox, OpenAPI publications for ETSI MEC ISG API specifications, and outreach activities (e.g. MEC Tech Series of video and podcasts).

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Previous References (from Part I):

Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) Market, Applications and ETSI MEC Standard-Part I

[1]     ETSI MEC website, https://www.etsi.org/technologies/multi-access-edge-computing

[2]     ETSI GS MEC 003 V2.1.1 (2019-01): “Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC); Framework and Reference Architecture”, https://www.etsi.org/deliver/etsi_gs/mec/001_099/003/02.01.01_60/gs_mec003v020101p.pdf

[3]     ETSI White Paper #36, “Harmonizing standards for edge computing – A synergized architecture leveraging ETSI ISG MEC and 3GPP specifications”, First Edition, July 2020, https://www.etsi.org/images/files/ETSIWhitePapers/ETSI_wp36_Harmonizing-standards-for-edge-computing.pdf

[4]     ETSI GS MEC 009 V3.1.1 (2021-06), “Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC); General principles, patterns and common aspects of MEC Service APIs”, https://www.etsi.org/deliver/etsi_gs/MEC/001_099/009/03.01.01_60/gs_MEC009v030101p.pdf

[5]     ETSI White Paper No. 24, “MEC Deployments in 4G and Evolution Towards 5G”, February 2018, https://www.etsi.org/images/files/ETSIWhitePapers/etsi_wp24_MEC_deployment_in_4G_5G_FINAL.pdf

[6]     ETSI White Paper No. 28, “MEC in 5G network”, June 2018, https://www.etsi.org/images/files/ETSIWhitePapers/etsi_wp28_mec_in_5G_FINAL.pdf

[7]     ETSI GR MEC 031 V2.1.1 (2020-10), “Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC); MEC 5G Integration”, https://www.etsi.org/deliver/etsi_gr/MEC/001_099/031/02.01.01_60/gr_MEC031v020101p.pdf

[8]     ETSI GR MEC 035 V3.1.1 (2021-06), “Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC); Study on Inter-MEC systems and MEC-Cloud systems coordination”, https://www.etsi.org/deliver/etsi_gr/MEC/001_099/035/03.01.01_60/gr_mec035v030101p.pdf

[9]     ETSI DGS/MEC-0040FederationAPI’ Work Item, “Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC); Federation enablement APIs”, https://portal.etsi.org/webapp/WorkProgram/Report_WorkItem.asp?WKI_ID=63022

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Additional References:

https://mecwiki.etsi.org/index.php?title=Main_Page

https://www.gsma.com/futurenetworks/5g-operator-platform/

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2021/08/10/delloro-mec-investments-to-grow-at-140-cagr-from-2020-to-2025/

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2021/08/23/idc-global-managed-edge-services-market-forecast-2-8b-in-2025/

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2021/05/19/o2-uk-and-microsoft-to-test-mec-in-a-private-5g-network/

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2021/04/05/amazon-aws-and-verizon-business-expand-5g-collaboration-with-private-mec-solution/

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2021/07/06/att-and-google-cloud-expand-5g-and-edge-collaboration/

 

Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) Market, Applications and ETSI MEC Standard-Part I

by Dario Sabella, Intel, ETSI MEC Chair, with Alan J Weissberger

Introduction (by Alan J Weissberger):

According to Research & Markets,  the global Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) market size is anticipated to reach $23.36 billion by 2028, producing a CAGR of 42.6%.  Reduced Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) due to integration of MEC in network systems as compared to legacy systems and subsequent ability to generate faster Return on Investment (RoI) is further expected to encourage smaller retail chains to leverage MEC technology.

Multi-access Edge Computing Market Highlights (from Research & Markets):

  • The software segment is anticipated to be the fastest-growing segment owing to emerging demand among service providers to use software that can be deployed for various applications without making changes to existing 3GPP hardware infrastructure specifications.
  • The energy and utilities segment is expected to witness the fastest growth rate over the forecast period owing to increasing demand among companies to quickly access insights and analyze data generated from remote locations
  • The Asia Pacific region is expected to emerge as the fastest-growing regional market due to strong support from the government to encourage advanced network infrastructure

A few important MEC applications/ use cases include:

  • Streaming video and pay TV: Increasing number of users adopting the Over the Top (OTT) video delivery model is expected to promote telecom companies and mobile networks to upgrade their existing infrastructure to cache video/audio content closer to the user.  Using the multi-access edge computing (MEC) architecture system brings backend functionality closer to the user network, which is expected to aid Multichannel Video Programming Distributors (MVPD) to meet their customers’ demands.  Users pay subscription fees for a specified duration of time to access the content offered by the MVPD.
  • Deployment of MEC technology is expected to enable retail and on line stores to improve the performance of in-store systems and reduce data processing time, thus ensuring faster resolving of customer grievances. Furthermore, adoption of this technology is expected to reduce the load on external macro sites, thus offering a seamless in-store experience for users.
  • Increasing number of IoT devices and the emerging need to gain access to real-time analysis of data generated by them is expected to drive MEC market growth. Leveraging this technology in IoT can facilitate reduced pressure on cloud networks and result in lower energy consumption, which is expected to offer significant growth opportunities to the market.
  • Multi-access edge computing is expected to enhance manufacturing practices and thus facilitate the advent of connected cars ecosystem. Connected cars are equipped with computing systems, wireless devices, and sensing, which have to work together in a coordinated fashion, thus facilitating the need to adopt MEC.
  • 5G MEC technology can be used to exchange critical operational and safety information to enhance efficiency, safety, and enhance value-added services such as smart parking and car finder.

Previously referred to as Mobile Edge Computing, MEC raises a lot of questions.  For example:

  • Can MEC be used with wireline and fixed access networks?
  • Is 5G Stand Alone (SA) core network with separate control, data, and management planes required for MEC to be effective?
  • Finally, why should MEC (and multi-cloud) matter to infrastructure owners and application developers?

Dario Sabella, Intel, ETSI MEC Chair, answers those questions and provides more context and color in his two part article.

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ETSI MEC Standard Explained, by Dario Sabella, Intel, ETSI MEC Chair

ETSI MEC – Foundation for Edge Computing:

MEC (Multi-access Edge Computing) “offers to application developers and content providers cloud-computing capabilities and an IT service environment at the edge of the network” [1].

The MEC ISG (Industry Specification Group) was established by ETSI to create an open standard for edge computing, allowing multiple implementations and ensuring interoperability across a diverse ecosystem of stakeholders: from mobile operators, application developers, Over the Top (OTT) players, Independent Software Vendors (ISVs), telecom equipment vendors, IT platform vendors, system integrators, and technology providers; all of these parties are interested in delivering services based on Multi-access Edge Computing concepts.

The work of the MEC initiative (see the architecture in Figure 1. above) aims to unite the telco and IT-cloud worlds, providing IT and cloud-computing capabilities at the edge: operators can open their network edge to authorized third parties, allowing them to flexibly and rapidly deploy innovative applications and services towards mobile subscribers, enterprises and vertical segments (e.g. automotive).

Author’s Note:

From a deployment point of view, a natural question is “where exactly is the edge?”  In this perspective, the ETSI MEC architecture supports all possible options, ranging from customer premises, 1st wireless base station/small cell, 1st network compute point of presence, internet resident data center/compute server or edge of the core network. The MEC standard is flexible, and the actual and specific MEC deployment is really an implementation choice from the infrastructure owners.

Additionally, the MEC architecture (shown in Figure 2 and defined in the MEC 003 specification [2]) has been designed in such a way that a number of different deployment options of MEC systems are possible:

  1.  The MEC 003 specification includes also a MEC in NFV (Network Functions Virtualization) variant, which is a MEC architecture that instantiates MEC applications and NFV virtualized network functions on the same virtualization infrastructure, and to reuse ETSI NFV MANO components to fulfil a part of the MEC management and orchestration tasks. This MEC deployment in NFV (Network Functions Virtualization) is also coherent with the progressive virtualization of networks.
  2. In that perspective, MEC deployment in 5G networks is  a main scenario of applicability (note that the MEC standard is aligned with 3GPP specifications [3]).
  3. On the other hand, the nature of the ETSI MEC Standard (as emphasized by the term “Multi-access” in the MEC acronym) is access agnostic and can be applicable to any kind of deployment, from Wi-Fi to fixed networks.
  4. A major effort of the MEC standardization work is dedicated to publishing relevant and industry-driven exemplary specifications of MEC service APIs, that are using RESTful principles, thus exposed to application developers in a universally recognized language.
Figure 2.

Figure 2.  MEC Application Development Community

The ETSI MEC initiative is focused on Applications at the Edge, and the specified MEC APIs (see above Figure 2.) include meaningful information exposed to application developers at the network edge, ranging from RNI (Radio Network Information) API (MEC 012), WLAN API (MEC 029), Fixed Access API (MEC 028), Location API (MEC 013), Traffic Management APIs (MEC015) and many others.

Additionally, new APIs (compliant with the basic MEC API principles [4]) can be added, without the need of being standardized in ETSI.

In this perspective, MEC truly provides a new ecosystem and value chain, by opening up the market to third parties, and allowing not only operators and cloud providers but any authorized software developers that can flexibly and rapidly deploy innovative applications and services towards mobile subscribers, enterprises and vertical segments.

MEC in 4G (and 5G NSA) Deployments:

ETSI has already clarified how MEC can be deployed in 4G networks, given its access-agnostic nature [5], with many approaches:

From “bump in the wire” (where the MEC sits on the S1 interface of the 4G system architecture), to “distributed 4G-Evolved Packet Core” (EPC -where the MEC data plane sits on the SGi interface), to “distributed S/PGW” (where the control plane functions such as the MME and HSS are located at the operator’s core site) and “distributed SGW with Local Breakout” (SGW-LBO) -where the MEC system and the distributed SGW are co-located at the network’s edge.

Figure 3.  MEC deployment options with distributed EPC (a), distributed S/PGW (b) and SGW-LBO (c)

Depending on the selected solution, MEC Handover is executed in different ways:

In the “bump in the wire approach,” mobility is not natively supported. Instead, in the EPC MEC, SGW + PGW MEC, and CUPS MEC, the MEC handover is supported using 3GPP specified S1 Handover with SGW relocation by maintaining the original PGW as anchor.

The same considerations apply for the SGW-LBO MEC deployment. In the latter case, the target SGW enforces the same policy towards the local MEC application.

Finally, the solutions that include an EPC gateway, such as EPC MEC, SGW+PGW MEC, SGW-LBO MEC, and CUPS MEC are compliant with LI (Lawful Interception) requirements.

This last aspect is also very relevant for MEC adoption, since public telecommunications network and service providers are legally required to make available to law enforcement authorities information from their retained data which is necessary for the authorities to be able to monitor telecommunications traffic as part of criminal investigations.

In that perspective, MEC deployment options are also chosen by infrastructure owners in the view of their compliance to Lawful Interception requirements.

Distributed SGW with Local Breakout (SGW-LBO):

A mainstream for the adoption of MEC is given by the progressive introduction of 5G networks.

Among the various 5G deployment options, local breakout at the SGWs (Figure 3c above) is a solution for MEC that originated from operators’ desire to have a greater control on the granularity of the traffic that needs to be steered. This principle was dictated by the need to have the users able to reach both the MEC applications and the operator’s core site application in a selective manner over the same APN.

The traffic steering uses the SGi – Local Break Out interface which supports traffic separation and allows the same level of security as the network operator expects from a 3GPP-compliant solution.

This solution allows the operator to specify traffic filters similar to the uplink classifiers in 5G, which are used for traffic steering. The local breakout architecture also supports MEC host mobility, extension to the edge of CDN, push applications that requires paging and ultra-low latency use cases.

The SGW selection process performed by MMEs is according to the 3GPP specifications and based on the geographical location of UEs (Tracking Areas) as provisioned in the operator’s DNS.

The SGW-LBO offers the possibility to steer traffic based on any operator-chosen combination of the policy sets, such as APN and user identifier, packet’s 5-tuple, and other IP level parameters including IP version and DSCP marking.

Integrated MEC deployment in 5G networks (3GPP Release 15 and later):

Edge computing has been identified as one of the key  technologies required to support low latency together with mission critical and future IoT services. This was considered in the initial 3GPP requirements, and the 5G system was designed from the beginning to provide efficient and flexible support for edge computing to enable superior performance and quality of experience.

In that perspective, the design approach taken by 3GPP allows the mapping of MEC onto Application Functions (AF) that can use the services and information offered by other 3GPP network functions based on the configured policies.

In addition, a number of enabling functionalities were defined to provide flexible support for different deployments of MEC and to support MEC in case of user mobility events. The new 5G architecture (and MEC deployment as AF) is depicted in the Figure 4 below.

Figure 4. – MEC as an AF (Application Function) in 5G system architecture

In this deployment scenario, MEC as an AF (Application Function) can request the 5GC (5G Core network) to select a local UPF (User Plane Function) near the target RAN node.  Then use the local UPF for PDU sessions of the target UE(s) and to control the traffic forwarding from the local UPF so that the UL traffic matching with the traffic filters received from MEC (AF) is diverted towards MEC hosts while other traffic is sent to the Central Cloud.

In case of UE mobility, the 5GC can re-select a new local UPF more suitable to handle application traffic identified by MEC (AF) and notify the AF about the new serving UPF.

In summary, MEC as an AF can provide the following services with a 5GC:

  • Traffic filters identifying MEC applications deployed locally on MEC hosts in Edge Cloud
  • Target UEs (one UE identified by its IP/MAC address, a group of UE, any UE)
  • Information about forwarding the identified traffic further e.g. references to tunnels toward MEC hosts

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Part II. of this two part article will illustrate and explain concurrent access to local and central Data Networks.  The enablement of MEC deployments and ecosystem development will also be presented.

Importantly, Part II will explain how MEC is evolving to the next phase of 5G– 3GPP Release 17.  In particular, ETSI MEC is aligning with 3GPP SA6 which is defining an EDGEAPP architecture (ref. 3GPP TS 23.558). 

Part II will also explain how MEC is evolving to multi-cloud support in alignment with GSMA OPG requirements for the MEC Federation work. Stay tuned!

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References:

1.  Introduction:

https://www.globenewswire.com/en/news-release/2021/11/25/2340948/28124/en/Global-Multi-access-Edge-Computing-Markets-Report-2021-Drivers-Include-Implementation-of-5G-Growing-Adoption-of-IoT-Forecast-to-2028.html

https://www.accenture.com/_acnmedia/PDF-128/Accenute-MEC-for-Pervasive-Networks-PoV.pdf

2.  Main body of this article (Part I and II):

[1]     ETSI MEC website, https://www.etsi.org/technologies/multi-access-edge-computing

[2]     ETSI GS MEC 003 V2.1.1 (2019-01): “Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC); Framework and Reference Architecture”, https://www.etsi.org/deliver/etsi_gs/mec/001_099/003/02.01.01_60/gs_mec003v020101p.pdf

[3]     ETSI White Paper #36, “Harmonizing standards for edge computing – A synergized architecture leveraging ETSI ISG MEC and 3GPP specifications”, First Edition, July 2020, https://www.etsi.org/images/files/ETSIWhitePapers/ETSI_wp36_Harmonizing-standards-for-edge-computing.pdf

[4]     ETSI GS MEC 009 V3.1.1 (2021-06), “Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC); General principles, patterns and common aspects of MEC Service APIs”, https://www.etsi.org/deliver/etsi_gs/MEC/001_099/009/03.01.01_60/gs_MEC009v030101p.pdf

[5]     ETSI White Paper No. 24, “MEC Deployments in 4G and Evolution Towards 5G”, February 2018, https://www.etsi.org/images/files/ETSIWhitePapers/etsi_wp24_MEC_deployment_in_4G_5G_FINAL.pdf

[6]     ETSI White Paper No. 28, “MEC in 5G network”, June 2018, https://www.etsi.org/images/files/ETSIWhitePapers/etsi_wp28_mec_in_5G_FINAL.pdf

[7]     ETSI GR MEC 031 V2.1.1 (2020-10), “Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC); MEC 5G Integration”, https://www.etsi.org/deliver/etsi_gr/MEC/001_099/031/02.01.01_60/gr_MEC031v020101p.pdf

[8]     ETSI GR MEC 035 V3.1.1 (2021-06), “Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC); Study on Inter-MEC systems and MEC-Cloud systems coordination”, https://www.etsi.org/deliver/etsi_gr/MEC/001_099/035/03.01.01_60/gr_mec035v030101p.pdf

[9]     ETSI DGS/MEC-0040FederationAPI’ Work Item, “Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC); Federation enablement APIs”, https://portal.etsi.org/webapp/WorkProgram/Report_WorkItem.asp?WKI_ID=63022

 

IDC: Global Managed Edge Services Market forecast ~$2.8B in 2025

According to IDC, Managed Edge Services [1.] will deliver worldwide revenues of about $445.3 million this year – a 43.5% increase over 2020. In addition, the IT market research firm forecasts that managed services revenues will hit nearly $2.8 billion in 2025.  Over the 2021-2025 forecast period, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for managed edge services is expected to be 55.1%.

Note 1.  Managed Edge Services seems to be a misnomer or at least a redundant term.  That’s because all Multi-Access Edge Compute (MEC) services will be managed by a service provider (telco, cloud, or CDN) or network equipment vendor/managed services provider for on-premises edge computing.

“Managed edge services represent an emerging market opportunity that promises to provide a wide variety of low-latency services with the potential to enhance customer experience, drive operational efficiencies, and improve performance. It is a highly contested marketplace among key providers including communications SPs, hyper-scalers, CDN providers, and managed SPs with strategic partnerships and alliances forming to establish early commercial success and leadership,” said Ghassan Abdo, research VP, Worldwide Telecommunications at IDC.

“At the same time, service providers are keenly aware of the potential impact of the edge on their current market position and are watching closely for unforeseen competition from adjacent markets and new disruptors. Technology vendors including network equipment providers (NEPs) and software, datacenter, and networking vendors are vying to shape this market and play a significant role in delivering innovative edge services.  Technical challenges abound including interoperability, open interfaces, and varying standards. The potential, however, is there to positively transform industries and user experiences,” he added.

IDC has identified three primary deployment models for managed edge services.

  1. On-premises deployment: This represents managed edge use cases where the edge compute infrastructure is deployed at the enterprises’ premises, also referred to as private deployment. This deployment model is intended to address the need for extra low latency and is applicable to industrial use cases, healthcare, and AR/VR applications.
  2. Service provider edge deployment: This represents managed edge services provided by edge compute deployed at the provider edge, both fixed and mobile. IDC expects this deployment model to spur development of a wide range of vertical use cases.
  3. CDN edge deployment: This represents managed edge services provided by edge compute deployed at the CDN POPs or edge locations. These use cases will enhance content delivery with personalized, high-fidelity, and interactive rich media customer experience.

IDC projects the on-premises edge to be the fastest growing segment with a five-year CAGR of 74.5%. The service provider edge will be the second-fastest growing segment with a CAGR of 59.2%, which will enable it to become the largest market segment by 2022. The CDN edge segment is expected to have a five-year CAGR of 41.9%.

The IDC report, Worldwide Managed Edge Services Forecast, 2021–2025 (IDC report #US47308121), provides a worldwide forecast for managed edge services covering 2021–2025. The forecast quantifies the revenue opportunities for service providers (SPs) that offer managed edge services on a monthly recurring revenue contractual arrangement. Service providers, in this context, comprise communications SPs, content delivery network (CDN) providers, public cloud providers or hyper-scalers, and managed service providers. This is the first forecast provided by IDC on this new and developing market.

For more information, contact:
Michael Shirer [email protected] or 508-935-4200

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June was a busy month for managed edged compute deals:

  • Vodafone outsourced its European MEC infrastructure to Amazon Web Services (AWS);
  • Ericsson and Google agreed to collaborate on edge compute solutions for mutual benefit; and
  • AT&T sold its Network Cloud technology to Microsoft which will also provide Azure (public cloud) based 5G SA/core network for AT&T.

 

References:

https://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS48179321

https://telecoms.com/511025/managed-edge-services-revenue-expected-to-hit-2-8-billion-by-2025/

Dell’Oro: MEC Investments to grow at 140% CAGR from 2020 to 2025

Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) Market, Applications and ETSI MEC Standard-Part I

 

ETSI MEC Standard Explained – Part II