Mobile Edge Computing may be the answer to 5G rollout


Wireless service providers find themselves struggling as the demand for faster and cheaper data packages grows. Mobile users need more bandwidth, but the cost of providing it isn’t getting any cheaper. In fact, the solution may already be in the works with a technology called Mobile Edge Computing.

For mobile networking operators and providers alike, operating costs have increased as mobile traffic also rises. With the onset of 5G just around the corner, speeds are expected to increase eight times in the next few years, and users are becoming more dependent on fast service so that can fully rely on their phones not only for Google and navigation services, but also for entertainment, television and more. Not to mention, automated smart cars and all the other smart devices also require direct, high-speed data.

Competition between providers requires that they lower prices to meet user demand, but the problem is, rising mobile traffic is driving up back-end costs. Bandwidth is limited, and it is more expensive to manage networks than ever before.

These challenges underscore a fault with the entire data service infrastructure, but thankfully, the solution may not be far off.

Mobile Edge Computing is a technology that aims to move content closer to its receptors so that there is a stronger and more cost-efficient connection. The concept sounds simple enough, but with the way the current data infrastructure is set up, it is actually quite revolutionary.

Currently, centralized data centers are the standard places for monitoring wireless data. These gigantic centers receive all data for large districts so they are entirely removed from the end users. You can imagine why some experts refer to them as “dinosaurs.”

The point is, current infrastructure is costly, as providers and cell operators go between these data centers for every user. Additionally, the system is inefficient due to one simple factor — distance. It’s distance that increases latency between centers and users and slows data speeds, reducing overall satisfaction with the service.

So what if cell towers also became data managing sites? Cell towers are directly in the path, being the first place where LTE signal touches. By moving the data to the operator, it would reduce back end costs and improve connectivity and speed while sustaining the industry so it can continue giving better and faster service.

An industry expert from AGL Magazine referred to these proposed sites as “micro data centers” and said the cell tower would be the ideal place to create them. Wireless cell towers have the space and the fiber connectivity, and they are en route to end users. Adding the infrastructure would be a simple solution, AGL argues.

“These, and other preconditions, readily support the addition of micro data centers at a marginal incremental cost, “ the AGL article reads. “ Moreover, because they are literally part of the cellular infrastructure, peering into wireless networks in an edge meet-me room, makes it possible to deploy IT infrastructure that is one hop from the RAN.”

These micro centers perfectly align with the existing edge computing system. Radio stations and other industries are also looking for a stake in the edge computing network, and cell towers could be a single source for co-owned micro data centers.

Of course, there are practicalities to consider. How would one add these micro data centers in a cost-efficient manner? There’s the option to incur costs to install the infrastructure, but the less complicated route may be to work with a third party to integrate the network. The integration would still be an investment, but with lowered operating costs and better connectivity, it might just be worth it.

Some experts predict the Mobile Edge Computing model will replace current industry standards. If so, the change will be fast, and it will place the wireless cell tower in the spotlight of a co-dependent data infrastructure.

Get in touch with TowerPoint to learn how you can leverage this opportunity to enhance your company’s operations.

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  • Jeff


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