Vodafone will begin its European MEC rollout in the UK

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Vodafone Business has announced a new service which combines the company’s 5G network with the ultrafast response times of distributed Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) technology.

The company is set to open its first MEC and 5G commercial centre in London in spring 2021. The low latency zone will extend to Cambridge, Oxford, Birmingham, Bristol, and Cardiff, as well as many towns home to tech firms along the M4 motorway corridor and parts of Wales and Cornwall.

Vodafone has partnered with Amazon Web Services (AWS) for the endeavour, building on a relationship first established last year.

Vinod Kumar, CEO of Vodafone Business, said: 

“Working with AWS on edge computing means we are making it simpler for both independent software vendors and our customers to experiment with this emerging technology.

We’re doing this by offering an incubation space to create and test applications that we can then industrialise and scale. And we’re already seeing some innovative applications that provide positive business outcomes from Dedrone, Digital Barriers, HERE Technologies, Groopview, and Unleash live, with so much more to come once our MEC innovation programme is running.”

AWS Wavelength is embedded at the edge of Vodafone’s 4G and 5G networks to help bring key applications closer to users and reduce latency.

Vodafone notes how MEC is vital for many exciting next-generation applications—including things such as remote surgery and driverless cars, where milliseconds could be a matter of life or death.

Johan Wibergh, CTO of Vodafone, said:

“Every millisecond matters in digitalising manufacturing, safeguarding citizens and workers, transporting medical supplies by drone or eliminating motion sickness when wearing a VR headset.

Putting these services much closer to the customer with Vodafone’s Edge Computing service will significantly reduce any delay in transmitting critical services.

By opening up new innovation hubs within our 5G network, which currently spans 127 cities and nine markets in Europe, we can help turn new business ideas into commercial successes.”

Standard mobile response times today are between 50 and 200 milliseconds. Vodafone says it managed to achieve latency of under 10 milliseconds in a test between a location near Newbury in the south of England and Birmingham in the Midlands.

Vodafone has been piloting MEC based on the AWS Wavelength Zones with customers in two beta trial sites in the UK. An additional beta trial location is due to open in Dusseldorf, Germany, early next year with general availability in Dortmund later in 2021.

Several innovative companies have begun trialling Vodafone’s 5G MEC technology, including:

  • Dedrone: An airspace security service that provides early warning, classification, and localisation of drones.
  • Digital Barriers: Video analytics using body-worn cameras for frontline workers in emergency situations.
  • Groopview: A synchronised viewing experience that allows viewers to seamlessly watch and talk over live or on-demand streaming video together, even when you are not together physically.
  • HERE Technologies: Real-time hazard warning services for safer road enablement with increasing digital traffic scenarios.
  • Unleash live: An AI-powered video analytics platform built to automate real-time visual oversight and alerts for cities, enterprises and infrastructure, for example on public safety needs including passenger safety and risk alerts at train stations, face mask and social distancing detection in public, and inspections of major infrastructure like wind farms.

Aaditya Devarakonda, CEO of Dedrone, commented:

“Cities of the future will require complete airspace awareness of drone activity. As unmanned traffic management systems are being developed and deployed globally, Dedrone and Vodafone Business are working to deliver a comprehensive airspace security solution to detect, classify and localise drones.

Integrating Dedrone’s counter-drone platform into Vodafone Business’ MEC solution means customers can quickly and easily extend their security systems to better protect their lower airspace from drone threats.”

Vodafone and AWS are launching a MEC innovation programme in early-2021 through which interested parties can experiment with the technology and learn about how it could help their business.

You can register your interest for the programme here.

(Photo by USGS on Unsplash)

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