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MEC to gain sharper edge over next five years

Driven by autonomous vehicles, advances in the urban sprawl of smart cities and an increase in mobile cloud usage, spending on multi-access edge computing is set for 260% growth from 2022-2027

As businesses undergo rapid digitisation and explore and develop tailored 5G solutions for deployment in their industries, demand for multi-access edge computing (MEC) applications and services is rocketing. Such demand could see global MEC spending grow from $8.8bn in 2022 to $22.7 billion by 2027, according to a study from Juniper Research.

According to the Edge computing: Vertical analysis, competitor leaderboard and market forecasts 2022-2027 report, this growth of 260% will be driven by increasing requirements for on-premise machine learning and low-latency connectivity, all enabled by 5G technology in an architecture that moves processing power and digital content to mobile network edges to provide lower latency and faster processing to users.

The study also predicted that more than 3.4 million MEC nodes would be deployed by 2027, rising from less than one million in 2022. It identified autonomous vehicles and smart cities as key beneficiaries of increasing MEC roll-outs, by enabling the handling of data generated by connections in these markets to be processed at network edges. This would reduce network strain by decreasing the physical distance cellular data needs to travel.

Looking at key drivers for the expected growth, the report noted that operator partnerships with agile technology companies, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), IBM and Microsoft, would be essential in achieving the growth of MEC node roll-outs.

The study forecast that more than 1.6 billion mobile users would have access to services underpinned by MEC nodes by 2027, rising from 390 million in 2022. Furthermore, it expected mobile cloud computing to become a highly valued MEC service among mobile users over the next five years. The analyst said migrating processing power to the cloud via MEC nodes would allow users to benefit from faster processing power and devices with smaller form factors.

The study also showed how MEC could be deployed to ease network bottlenecking. It said the delivery of digital content, including video streaming, cloud gaming and immersive reality, would benefit from the geographical proximity of MEC nodes and increase value proposition by improving video caching and computational offload.

In a call to action, Juniper Research urged operators to maximise the user reach of MEC by focusing on urban deployments first.

As it battles to establish primacy in an ever more competitive 5G market in the US, and specifically to boost its public mobile edge computing (MEC) service offering, telecommunications services provider Verizon announced in April 2022 a $40m equity investment in Casa Systems, a provider of physical and cloud-native infrastructure technology solutions for mobile, cable and fixed networks. Casa delivers what it says are the core-to-customer building blocks to speed 5G transformation with “future-proof solutions and cutting-edge” bandwidth for all access types.

This investment followed the formation of a partnership with AWS to allow enterprises to deploy a dedicated, private edge compute platform fully integrated with AWS cloud services and Verizon 5G private networks to improve productivity, safety and operational efficiencies. In August 2020, the companies announced the general availability of 5G mobile edge computing via Wavelength Zones in 10 cities across the US.

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