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Notes From The Edge: So What IS The Relationship Between 5G, MEC, and Edge Computing?

By Bob Gill | February 23, 2022 | 0 Comments

Among the many confusing things about Edge computing is the tendency by many to conflate Edge and 5G.  Providers often speak of “5G Edge” as if they are one and the same, or inextricably linked together.  To be clear,

1) 5G is an evolution of the wireless telephony system, bringing with it many advances, including far greater speed, the ability to support more devices, and other functionality such as network slicing.

2) Edge Computing is form of distributed computing where workloads and data are placed in an optimal location in regard to the people, things, and applications that need them.  The goal is to place them in a location that optimizes the requirements regarding Latency, Bandwidth Economy, Autonomy, and for regulatory / compliance / sovereignty purposes.

3) While MEC is an acronym for Multiaccess Edge Compute, in many contexts providers and customers alike use MEC to refer to Mobile Edge Compute, quite often the placement of Cloud Resources at the Edge of the network, usually wireless transmission locations. Still others refer to this topology as Mobile Edge Cloud. Rather than belabor the accuracy  of these differing definitions, be sure to understand what functionality the provider is explicitly referring to.

So…Edge and 5G are completely different, like cats and dogs.

BUT… They DO work well together!


A recent note by Gartner Analyst Mohini Dukes does an outstanding job of not only putting all of these points in perspective, but explaining  5G and Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) in DETAIL, including 5G Private Mobile Networks.  In particular, she highlights the benefits of bringing distributed computing to the edge of a mobile network, or the “mobile Edge”.  In short,

“The synergies between 5G and mobile edge compute transform the private mobile network infrastructure into a foundational connectivity platform for business digitalization initiatives that rely on real-time insights and data analytics.”

In other words, if we take the benefits of Edge computing and combine them with higher speed of 5G over the equivalent of a “last mile”, entirely new applications are made possible.

There is so much great detail into the nuances and tradeoffs of combining private and public wireless networks with Edge Computing, that it is tough to highlight just one finding.

As Mohini concludes “Mobile edge compute as part of 5G PMN connectivity is becoming integral to business digitalization initiatives. Mobile edge compute bolsters the application centricity of 5G

PMNs making workloads and data the focal points for connectivity, blurring the classical definition of a network edge.”


Just Read it!

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