Study: Carriers can rake in cash savings by using MEC for offloading traffic

Carriers can tap into significant cost savings by creating local breakouts that offload traffic through multiaccess edge computing (MEC).

A study released today found that U.S. mobile carriers could reap savings of more than $546 million over a five-year period by employing white box routing to offload 32% of their video traffic.

Mavenir, which commissioned the study that was conducted by iGR, calls its white box routing a virtualized media breakout controller (vMBC.) White box routing platforms can offload data traffic and lower demand on transport and core networks by routing it directly to the Internet.

The mean bandwidth per macrocell in the U.S. is more than 428 Mbps, but iGR estimated that would grow to 763 Mbps, an increase of 78%, by 2022. MEC servers are able to create local breakouts of some mobile data traffic that can enable content and applications to be processed as close as possible to the edge of the network.

Video accounts for 80% of the traffic on mobile networks today and with 40% of that traffic encrypted it has little value to mobile operators, according to iGR president Iain Gillott. Offloading 40% of the video traffic—32% of the total—leads to operational savings in both capital and operational costs.

A 32% local breakout would extend the current macrocell backhaul and EPC capacity by 25.6 months, said John Baker, senior vice president of 5G business development at Mavenir, in a press release.

White box routing is an intelligent gateway that sits at the edge of a network, according Baker.

"It's a gateway at the edge that evolves the EPC (evolved packet core) functionality, such as the ECP functionality, EPC tunneling and EPC signaling, out to the edge," Baker said in an interview with FierceTelecom. "So ultimately 5G architectures are pushing compute to the edge and they're also a way to get latency out of the network.

"White boxes also enable the ability to disaggregate the core. The wireless carriers are stuck pushing everything to the core and serializing everything back to a couple of nodes. Network architecture design dates back to 20 years ago with wireless networks. This is the first step in improving the business case for carriers to put their dollars into the edge infrastructure."

In addition to lower latency, MEC also provide a better user experience by being closer to consumer and enterprise customers.

MEC applications could also be hosted for pre-deploying of 5G architectures in a current 4G network.

"5G is moving the compute closer to the edge of the network," Baker said. "If we need to move 5G why can't I just start to move my 4G core functions to the edge of the network? I can get the all of the cost advantages and speed advantages, but I don't have to wait to for 5G technology to come along to do it."

Baker said that Mavenir competes with some of the usual suspects, such as Ericsson and Huawei, on a global basis.

"Then you have the other guys—Google, Amazon, Netflix, etcetera—coming from the other side in terms of putting their apps at the edge," he said. "The people that will win out are the hardware companies because the two segments of the marketplace will be on those platforms."