Vision and Objectives
As the information and communication technology is integrated and penetrating into various sectors today, digital information has become a key factor of production. There is a growing trend of transforming to digitization in all economic and social sectors. Through the deep integration with such technologies as cloud computing, big data, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence, 5G network will connect people to everything to become a critical infrastructure for digital transformation in all sectors. 5G mainly consists of three application scenarios: Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), Massive Machine Type Communication (mMTC) and Ultra-reliable and Low Latency Communications (uRLLC). Among them, eMBB focuses on services that have high requirements for bandwidth, such as HD video, VR and AR, so as to satisfy our demands for digital life. mMTC focuses on services that have high requirements for connection density, such as smart city, smart agriculture and smart home, so as to satisfy our demands for digital society. uRLLC focuses on services that are extremely sensitive to latency, such as autonomous driving, industrial control and telemedicine, so as to satisfy our demands for digital industry. According to IDC's latest statistical report, there will be more than 50 billion terminals and devices connected to the Internet by 2020. By 2018, 50% of the IoT network will be bandwidth constrained, while 40% of the data will need to be analyzed, processed and stored at the edge of the network.
Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC) is an open platform which integrates the core capabilities of network, computing, storage and application at the network edge close to people, things or data sources. The platform provides edge intelligence services to meet the key requirements of industry digitization in various aspects such as agile connection, real-time service, data optimization, application intelligence, security and privacy protection. In 3GPP R15, based on the service-oriented architecture, 5G protocol module can be called according to service requirements and provide technical standards for constructing edge network. As a result, the MEC can be flexibly deployed in wireless access cloud, edge cloud or converged cloud in different scenarios based on demands. MEC can provide mobile operators with the following values:
- To reduce the utilization of the core network and backbone transmission network and effectively improve the utilization rate of the operator network through local offload of high-bandwidth services such as 4K/8K and VR/AR;
- The operator network will effectively support future latency-sensitive services (such as the Internet of Vehicles and remote control) and services requiring high computing and processing capabilities (such as video monitoring and analysis) by descending the content and computing capability, so as to help operators transform from connection pipe to information-based service enablement platform;
- As an edge cloud computing environment and network capability open platform, MEC will lay a foundation for operators to construct the network edge ecology.
MEC is one of 5G network enablement technologies, but currently it can be deployed in LTE network due to the openness of its architecture and platform to provide mobile operators with value-added services. In June 2017, China Unicom joined hands with Nokia, Tencent and INTEL to successfully build a network edge cloud system at Shanghai Mercedes-Benz Arena for the first time. They also validated the MEC-based multi-angle live video and broadcaster interaction service by utilizing the existing LTE network. The test data shows a live video latency of only 0.5s in the venue. Compared to the traditional Internet live video with a latency of over 30s, the system significantly improves the user's real-time viewing experience and lays a solid foundation for promoting and constructing China Unicom’s 5G network-oriented intelligent venue solution.
Based on 5G service requirements and the progress of the MEC industry, this White Paper defines the requirements of China Unicom for MEC platform capabilities and application scenarios, and provides suggestions for China Unicom’s 4G network MEC deployment policy and 5G network-oriented evolution planning. We are looking forward to discussing the MEC commercial cooperation mode with all sectors so as to jointly build the network edge ecology and comprehensively accelerate the vigorous development of 5G services.
This version 1.0 of the white paper may need to be further revised to be more comprehensive, but we hope that the release of this version will be helpful for the industry. With the freezing of MEC technical standards and the deployment of 5G pre-commercial network, new research content may be added to subsequent versions. All comments and suggestions are welcome.