The growth in network functions virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN) is paving the way for new technologies like information-centric networking (ICN) and mobile edge computing (MEC).
In fact, ICN and MEC could become an integral part of the 5G standard. According to a new white paper from 5G Americas, growing interest in ICN and MEC is propelling standards bodies like the 3GPP and ETSI to consider those technologies for possible inclusion in the 5G standards.
“Both of these are making progress in the standards,” said Chris Pearson, president of the trade group 5G Americas.
ICN is considered a potential 5G technology because of its ability to couple network-layer functions with content awareness so that routing, forwarding, caching, and data transfer operations are performed on topology-independent content names rather than on IP addresses.
MEC, meanwhile, improves responsiveness by providing cloud computing capabilities closer to the end user than traditional cloud computing systems. In a MEC environment, compute and storage resources are exposed via a set of application protocol interfaces (APIs) so that operators and developers can use their capabilities.
The white paper goes on to say that while network features and functionality in 4G networks are increasingly migrating to software, there is a general assumption that in 5G the network functions and applications will be designed as cloud-native applications that will run in virtualized environments on distributed architectures.
ETSI is already working on a MEC specification, and the group in July released technical requirements, framework, and architecture, and a proof-of-concept framework. The MEC Industry Specification Group is currently working on 16 more specifications. ETSI also is changing its name from mobile edge computing to multi-access edge computing so it can better reflect the use of MEC in conjunction with WiFi and fixed access technologies.
ICN, meanwhile, is not being directly addressed by the 3GPP, but the group recently started on a project to define the 5G system architecture and will likely touch on ICN.
In addition, ATIS recently formed an ad-hoc committee to look into the evolution of content-optimized networks. Although not directly focused on ICN, the work will probably overlap.