Verizon has announced a successful edge computing trial on a live 5G network, conducted using their newly formed 5G test bed in Houston. The company’s engineers used Multi-Access Edge Compute (MEC) equipment and MEC platform software, incorporated in a network facility closer to the network edge, and managed to decrease network latency by half. The test results are important for next generation networks, enabling 5G to support low-latency applications such as Virtual Reality (VR).
Low latency refers to minimizing the round-trip time taken by data packets. This is an essential yet enormously challenging attribute for a 5G network, and its high performance requirements. At present, many mobile applications depend on cloud-based processing that is handled in centralized data centers, and the physical distances involved increase latency. According to Verizon, locating the computing power nearer to the users at the network edge significantly decreases the time to deliver services.
Adam Koeppe, Verizon’s Senior Vice President for Network Planning, said in a statement: “For applications requiring low latency, sending huge quantities of data to and from the centralized cloud is no longer practical. Data processing and management will need to take place much closer to the user.”
For the test, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) enabled facial recognition application was used to identify people. The application, combined with the MEC equipment at the network facility, analyzed data at the edge of the network and yielded the anticipated results of lower latency.
Koeppe stated: “MEC moves application processing, storage, and management to the Radio Access Network’s edge to deliver the desired low latency experiences, thereby enabling new disruptive technologies. This shift in where the application processing occurs, the inherent capabilities of 5G to move data more efficiently, and our use of millimeter wave spectrum is a game-changer when it comes to the edge computing capabilities we can provide.”
“To achieve near-zero latency, where data moves many times faster than the blink of an eye, having computing functions closer to the user is a vital step,” said Koeppe. “With this test, we have shown how much of an impact the move towards a MEC-based network architecture can make.”