Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company and China's Huawei Technologies have signed a preliminary agreement at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona to develop multi-access edge computing (MEC) that will help the Dubai operator diversify its communications services.
The MWC is the annual trade show dedicated to the mobile industry and is organised by the GSMA Association.
EITC and Huawei — the world's biggest maker of network gear — will collaborate on research, verification and replication of MEC-oriented applications that will also spearhead digital transformation in the wider Middle East, the companies said in a joint statement on Tuesday.
"There are several values in the deployment [of MEC], as the core enabler for all our core competencies. However, the real value comes in the end-to-end services that we need to collaborate with and engage in the entities within our society and value-added services," Saleem AlBlooshi, chief technology officer of EITC, said at a press conference.
"To maximise our value, we have decided to embark on this journey [and] started our engagement with Huawei."
Edge computing in the telecom industry moves the computing of traffic and services from a centralised cloud to the edge of the network and closer to the customer, according to Juniper networks.
Instead of sending all data to a cloud for processing, the network edge analyses, processes and stores the data. Collecting and processing data closer to the customer reduces latency and brings real-time performance to high-bandwidth applications.
MEC can also be utilised at enterprise premises, such as inside factories, homes and vehicles. The infrastructure can be managed or hosted by communication service providers or other types of service providers.
The total addressable market for edge computing is projected grow at a compound annual rate of 49 per cent to $543 billion by 2030, according to telecom consultancy STL Partners.
MEC will deliver a number of benefits to du's customers, including localised decision making, streamlined devices and, particularly, boosting privacy, security and resilience, he added.
MEC can flexibly fit in various scenarios, integrate and simplify different platforms, increase cost-effectiveness and significantly reduce the time to perform tasks by days and up to weeks, said Richard Liu, president of Huawei's cloud core network product line.
The digital transformation of sectors is the "biggest catalyst" driving the demand for MECs, along with new use cases and network requirements, Pablo Iacopino, head of research and commercial content at GSMA Intelligence, said at the press conference.
Globally, nearly half of B2B enterprises across the most vertical sectors find Edge capabilities useful for their future Internet of Things deployment, according to the GSMA. Around 48 per cent of organisations in the utilities sector say Edge will be "very important".
Other key industries such as manufacturing (47 per cent), retail (47 per cent), the public sector (45 per cent), health care (44 per cent) and transport (44 per cent), are not far behind.
Sectors such as sports venues, cloud gaming, immersive reality, e-sports, ultra-high definition broadcasting and smart tourism also have a huge interest in MEC.
By 2025, 5G, the present mobile communications standard, will be the "excessively used" access technology for MEC use cases at 100 per cent, followed by fixed Wi-Fi, which is expected to be "excessively" and "significantly" used at both 37 per cent, the GSMA said.
At present, the adoption of MEC by mobile operators is moving forward, with 6 per cent at the initial phase of commercial deployment, 21 per cent in the testing phase and 38 per cent in the planning phase. About 65 per cent of operators have plans to deploy MEC, with China leading the industry, Mr Iacopino said.
"Following industry-wide efforts to define MEC and the associated standards, MEC is increasingly being explored across various industry applications," he said.