Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) refers to co-location of cloud computing at the edge of mobile access network. The candidate access networks are WiFi access via Access Point (AP) and public or private 4G LTE access via eNodeB. The benefits of MEC include, ultra low latency, high bandwidth, rich user context and access to relevant network information.
Let us consider how a group communications application, such as Push To Talk (PTT) can benefit from MEC. A typical PTT application is hosted on a server deep in the Cloud, which is several hops away from the mobile PTT clients running on mobile hand sets. The latency of call set up between all parties involved in group communications is aggravated by multiple hops between the clients and the server. On top of that, if the client uses standard Internet connection instead of dedicated connectivity with QoS implemented; the latency is even higher, making it a highly unreliable solution for group communications during medical emergencies, disaster situations and other mission critical field situations.
Now consider that instead of deep inside the Cloud, a lite version of PTT server application is co-located with the WiFi Access Point or 4G LTE eNodeB. In this case, the PTT server is only a single hop away from the PTT clients, which are mobile in the area or region covered by the WiFi Access Point or eNodeB. This helps to reduce latency of call set-up to a very low level, essentially making it less than a second or sub-second for all possible situations. Not only that, the local server access delivers the benefits of high bandwidth; and access to real time context information for all local users involved in group communications.
With Mobile Edge Computing (MEC), there are potentially more opportunities to enrich group communications with a combination of voice, real time video, text, instant messaging, web access, GPS positioning, geolocation and so on…