Vodafone sees benefit of MEC in video streaming


Vodafone has been trialling multi-access edge computing to determine how it can benefit HD video streaming on smartphones and tablets.

The operator has set up two identical video streaming servers in its lab, one in a public cloud and the other on Saguna's vEdge MEC platform. MEC enables cloud-computing and an IT environment for the processing of applications and services closer to devices at the network edge.

Vodafone roadtested different types of traffic congestion and latency to compare edge-hosting with that outside of a mobile network. It measured the interval between when a user pushes play and the video starts, the number of times a video pauses for rebuffering, with no stalling on the MEC-hosted network, and total waiting time for a buffering network to start playing again.

The UK-based operator then used crowdsourced measurement tools from Teragence to determine how these latency and congestion conditions would apply in real-life deployments.

Vodafone said one in five LTE users would get a "non-optimal" video streaming experience when consuming content from servers hosted outside a mobile network.

Dr. Simone Mangiante, a Research and Standards Specialist at Vodafone Group, said the trials gave "concrete evidence" MEC would benefit video streaming.

"Next steps include research into benefits achievable for higher-resolution content, cost efficient use of this technology, comparison of tradeoffs in user experience when other solutions for streaming from the cloud are used, and business models," he added.

The operator cited information from Ericsson which said more than half of today's mobile traffic is video. This will grow to a 75 percent share by 2022, when approximately 71 billion gigabytes will be consumed, which is an eightfold increase on last year.

Mangiante added he expected similar simulations will take place to assess how MEC could affect the Internet of Things, virtual and augmented reality and connected cars.

BT announced last month it would place multi-access edge computing within its new 5G testbed in Bristol.