Juniper Research

Network operators to plough $8.3 billion into MEC

15 December 2020 | Melanie Mingas

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Network operator spending on multi-access edge computing (MEC), is set to reach US$8.3 billion by 2025.

Up from $2.7 billion in 2020, the more than three-fold increase will occur as operators invest in upgrading network capacities and infrastructure to support the data generated by 5G networks. Over the forecast period, operators are set to move infrastructure used for processing data from core network locations to base stations at the network edge.

The outlook, published by Juniper Networks today, said the capabilities of 5G technologies – that is high throughput, low latencies and high device densities – will "necessitate roll-outs of MEC nodes in urban areas".

Specifically, by 2025, the number of deployed MEC nodes will reach two million globally, up from 230,000 in 2020. These devices, which take the form of access points, base stations, and routers, will play a "vital role" in managing the data generated by connected vehicles, smart city systems and other emerging data-intensive services.

The report said smart cities were a key industry set to benefit from MEC node roll-outs, as operators and planning authorities identify how best to install 5G-compatible edge nodes.

The 5G catalyst

The findings were echoed by Dan Graham, global product leader for mobile edge computing at Worldwide Technology (WWT).

Sharing his outlook for 2021, Graham said edge will become critical in generating revenue streams for operators, and that it had the potential to offset the costs of executing a 5G strategy.

"In 2021, edge will be critical in creating new revenue streams for network operators, helping offset the costs of executing their 5G strategy. Increasingly, enterprises are looking towards edge computing as a solution to help fix business problems, decrease cost, and increase efficiency," Graham said.

He continued: "Edge computing is also enabling private mobile broadband to fill in the gaps of geographic coverage, reach latency targets, and support industrial IoT and manufacturing use cases. We’ll also see traditional cloud applications get extended into on-prem or near prem locations to take advantage of the new 5G infrastructure, real-time data processing, and low latency use cases.

"5G advances aren’t just about deployments, they are about perception change. In 2021 the days of 5G simply being perceived as the next stage of mobile phone connectivity will be over. 5G is a catalyst for brand new enterprise edge use cases and private connectivity which will set the stage for the fourth industrial revolution. Carriers will either meet the demand of these new use cases and support their enterprise customer’s digital transformation or will be relegated to costly dumb pipes," Graham added.