ETSI is currently producing standards for Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC), formerly known as Mobile Edge Computing, in collaboration with OpenFog Consortium for MEC API standards. ETSI formed an industry specification group (ISG) that is tasked with creating MEC standards that optimize the benefits for all players. The core objective focuses on cooperation between network operators, applications, and content providers to boost the overall user experience.
MEC bypasses network congestion by connecting devices to the network’s edge. The network edge is locally positioned at base stations, micro data centers, and other local hot spots with the purpose of optimizing cloud computing. A host of devices rely on a steady network connection to function, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), smart city sensors, and cloud-based applications. Not only does tapping into a local edge network bring computing closer to the end user, but MEC decreases latency and has a high bandwidth. The result is consistent network connectivity, and the ability for multiple devices to connect simultaneously.
The organization is continuing to establish and update MEC standards, but as of early 2019 the ISG has already identified 13 standards and written three group reports that analyze the ways MEC technology can be implemented. The associated Industry Enabling Group (IEG) works with third-party developers to accelerate the adoption of MEC technologies. That group has written three papers. See the MEC standards along with a brief definition for each below.
Standards by the MEC ISG
The Framework and Reference Architecture standard includes the functional elements, the reference points between them, and a number of MEC services. In the updated version from 2019, a MEC variant was described with network functions virtualization (NFV) functional elements.
The Technical Requirements specification covers generic principles of MEC, such as NFV alignment and deployment independence. The 2018 update, Use Cases and Requirements, added application mobility to and from an external system, as well as 13 additional possible MEC use cases.
In 2019, the MEC ISG added 16 terms to the Terminology paper, including those often used in the ETSI MEC standards.
Mobile Edge Management has a two-part standard. The first, on system, host and platform management, defines the management protocol of the mobile edge system, hosts, and platforms. The second, on application lifecycle, rules, and requirements, outlines the application lifecycle management protocol in this standard. The document lists the rules and management requirements.
The User Equipment (UE) application interface standard details how to manage the application’s lifecycle on the connected device’s application interface.
The Bandwidth Management API standard primarily deals with bandwidth concerns when multiple devices use the same edge network. It focuses on application policy information, and how to address certain application program interface (API) scenarios that affect bandwidth usage and the network edge.
ETSI’s standard for the UE Identity API mainly focuses on a way to tag and track the user’s equipment in the network to enforce traffic rules.
The standard for the Location API establishes guidelines for detecting the user’s device location information on the edge network.
In order to have a uniform Radio Network Information Service (RNIS) in MEC deployments, ETSI made the Radio Network Information API. It informs edge applications of the radio network’s condition to optimize network usage.
The Mobile Edge Platform Application Enablement document focuses on how the mobile platform functionality one (Mp1) reference point enables applications to communicate with the mobile edge system.
The General Principles for MEC Service APIs standard is a glossary of the RESTful API mobile edge service’s design principles, and highlights API guidelines and templates. In the 2019 update more RESTful API patterns were included.
The Support for Regulatory Requirements standard describes infrastructure to allow for Lawful Interception and Retained Data when implementing MEC into a larger network. This standard gives full support to these two practices’ regulatory requirements.
The ISG’s standards include an in-depth review of definitions, architecture, framework, and processes. The entire MEC standards are available here.
Updated April 2019