With 5G mobile subscriptions surpassing 1 billion in 2022 and IoT showing strong growth, Communications Service Provider (CSP) mobile networks will have an attractive proposal to run demanding enterprise applications close to target customers with edge computing.
Edge computing is the distribution of compute resources and applications to geographically distributed sites of an enterprise or in a CSP network. This provides storage and processing closer to where the data is generated and used, which reduces latency. As a result, soon, edge computing can enable a broad range of use cases resulting from private 5G networks, IoT platforms, cloud gaming, and immersive experiences with extended reality (XR).
Edge compute resource deployment is costlier compared to centralized deployment. However, edge enables a range of enhanced capabilities like better performance, reliability, data security and privacy, and low cost/bandwidth for the transport network. As data does not need to be transported far for processing, analysis, and rendering, enterprises will have reduced round-trip times (RTT) and benefit from more reliable data throughput.
CSP network edge cost analysis
It costs nearly half as much for an enterprise to get edge compute resources from a CSP compared to building its own on-premise infrastructure with similar performance, reliability, and data security. The below figure shows the annual cost estimation framework for compute resources.
Large-scale data center vs CSP network edge
A large-scale traditional data center and a CSP network edge enable different use cases. According to a research by Ericsson, CSP edge infrastructure resources are marginally (10%) more expensive than those at a large-scale data center. However, it is much less than an enterprise on-premise compute solution. CSP edge infrastructure also provides better latency and will be located in the vicinity of enterprise applications. Advantages of a CSP-operated edge include high location sensitivity, reduced latency, and guaranteed connectivity. However, the scalability of edge computing infrastructure will be limited compared to large data centers.
In the long run, when CSP network edge computing will be deeply integrated into mobile networks, it will be able to address the most demanding use cases like closed-loop industrial control systems, industrial robotics, XR with real-time synchronous haptic feedback (the Internet of Senses) and negotiated automatic cooperative driving for autonomous vehicles.
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