MEC * Activity Report

MEC Activity Report 2017

Chairman: Alex Reznik, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise 

Tasked with developing specifications that will allow the hosting of third-party applications in a multi-vendor Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) environment and accelerating the development of edge applications across the industry, to increase market scale and improve market economics

Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC) technology – previously referred to as Mobile-Edge Computing – offers IT service and Cloud computing capabilities at the edge of the network.

Shifting processing power away from remote data centres and closer to the end user, it enables an environment that is characterized by proximity and ultra-low latency, and provides exposure to real-time network and context information.

Giving access to a tightly-controlled set of services via standardized Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), MEC lets operators open their networks to authorized third parties, allowing them to rapidly deploy innovative new applications and services for use by subscribers and enterprises.

MEC is identified as a key enabler for the IoT and mission-critical vertical solutions, from interactive gaming and Virtual Reality to Intelligent Transport Systems and the industrial Internet. Advancing the transformation of the mobile broadband network into a programmable environment, it satisfies the demanding requirements of these and other applications (on emerging 5G as well as existing 3G/4G systems) in terms of expected throughput, latency, scalability and automation. It also offers additional privacy and security and ensures significant cost savings. 

ETSI ISG MEC explores how placing computational functionality closer to the end user will reduce latency in a range of 5G applications. In 2017, we focused on completing the work started in Phase 1, finalising and releasing all planned Phase 1 API Specifications. Notably, Platform Service API specifications (Application Enablement, Radio Network Information Service, Location Service, User Equipment Identity Service, Bandwidth Management Service and User Equipment Application Enablement) are all released as machine readable JSON/YAML OpenAPI compliant specs on ETSI Forge (forge.etsi.org).

ISG MEC is now actively pursuing Phase 2 activities, driven by new use cases and requirements to address topics such as charging, regulatory compliance, support of mobility, support of containers, support of non-3GPP mobile networks, and key vertical use cases such as automotive. Work on integration with ETSI’s ISG on Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) is also planned for completion during Phase 2 and active discussions with ETSI NFV on moving this forward are in progress. A Group Report (GR) on the deployment of MEC in a network functions virtualization environment was finalized during the year.

We continued to use Proofs of Concept (PoCs) to demonstrate the viability of MEC implementations, with the results being channelled back into specification activities. By the end of 2017 there were a total nine approved MEC PoCs, addressing different aspects of application. 
 
The interest of the group is transitioning from its early exploratory phase to an expanded focus on operational and implementation issues. A work item on testing and compliance was approved and work commenced. 
 
Plans also progressed for the establishment of a series of MEC hackathons and Plugtests: these give operators and third party developers the opportunity to collaborate and share results in a hands-on environment. 

In September we published a white paper on developing software for MEC.