Edge computing allows internet consumers to use more connected applications and devices without bogging down the network. It avoids network congestion by using the network’s edge to bring services closer to the user. The network’s edge may be located in base stations, hot spots, and in data centers. Below is a compilation of some edge computing use cases that have promise.
Under the LTE network, mobile video streaming capabilities may suffer from sluggish video buffering times. As 5G matures and overtakes LTE, utilizing edge computing technology, this kind of latency will all but disappear. Video buffering is caused by the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) not adapting fast enough to varying radio conditions. Edge technology dodges those video streaming issues by communicating to the video server the best bit rate for the given radio conditions. This reduces the buffering time of the device’s video stream.
Telecom Italia’s Radio aware video optimization in a fully virtualized network (RAVEN) proof of concept. Source: IEEE
In this Nokia edge use case, distributed cloudlets establish a communication channel between connected vehicles. The connected cars can use the channel to send real-time information — such as warnings about traffic safety — to prevent car accidents. Nokia participated in a 2015 test where edge computing was used over an LTE network for cars to communicate hazard information.
In 2018, EdgeConneX began collaborating with Renovo. EdgeConneX specializes in edge data centers, while Renovo develops autonomous vehicles. Renovo claims their vehicles reach the fourth level of automation on the Society for Automotive Engineers International’s standard, one step below full automation. EdgeConneX’s edge infrastructure will be used by Renovo’s cars for data processing both during and after use, when pertinent data is stored for future reference.
5G Network Architecture
InterDigital, Bristol is Open, and CTVC Ltd partnered together to test a 5G Network Architecture, as one of the ETSI’s Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) proof of concept (PoC) projects. The English city Bristol invited Android users to participate in a citywide treasure hunt that involved solving riddles. Participants experienced noticeably shorter latency times and significantly improved video streaming experiences.
Deployment of Enterprise and Campus Networks
A reliable, readily available network is crucial for large enterprises and campus networks. Too many people using the same network can result in high latency for users. Edge computing resolves that. In an enterprise network, edge computing allows copious employees simultaneous access to a company’s intranet. Companies can complete mass trainings without halting network speed.
Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality (VR/AR)
Both of these applications require low latency and real-time response times to function. This use case is commonly referred to in discussions about 5G as well. VR renders an immersive environment of digital graphics, while AR transposes digital graphics onto a real environment. More companies will incorporate these technologies into their marketing efforts — such as Ikea, which created a virtual reality app. View the video below to see how retail companies may employ VR/AR.
Large sports events can benefit from AR as well. In 2017, Nokia and the University of Notre Dame worked together to test edge computing at the Compton Ice Arena. The goal was to improve WiFi using edge computing for low-latency orchestration of multiple video streams and for overlaying information on streamed video on devices. Based on the project’s success, Nokia and the university plan to create an AR experience at the university’s football stadium.
Updated April 2019