Customer PortalGet Started

Mobile Edge Computing [What It Is & Why It Matters]

Curious about mobile edge computing? We explain what mobile edge computing (or multi-access edge computing) is, how it works, and how it helps strengthen processing speeds.

What Is Mobile or Multi-Access Edge Computing?

Mobile edge computing (or multi-access edge computing) is the concept of bringing the computational activities of a network closer to the end user, with the goal of bringing a higher bandwidth and lower latency to critical enterprise applications.

Mobile edge computing follows technical standards set forth by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute that enable faster data processing, reduced network congestion, and performance across cellular networks.

MEC technology creates better cellular service for commercial carriers and is an important component for both public and private 5G networks.

Edge Computing vs. Mobile Edge Computing

Many people confuse edge computing and MEC to mean the same thing, but this isn’t the case.

The main difference between edge computing and mobile edge computing is that MEC adheres to technical standards developed by the ETSI, whereas edge computing is a more general concept describing when computing power is moved closer to the requesting device.

This is an important distinction as different technologies such as 5G edge computing uses MEC standards to improve the performance and accuracy of 5G applications. New technologies such as augmented reality and remote surgery systems need these strict standards to function properly.

Benefits of Mobile Edge Computing

Outside of lower latency and improved performance, MEC enables a few key benefits that support the latest in 5G technology. 

Application Splitting

MEC enables a highly flexible computing environment that can distribute applications, computing power, and services across the local and regional clouds closest to the end user. Application splitting breaks down applications and services into smaller tasks and uses the mobile edge cloud to handle tasks that require low latency and higher performance.

Enhancing the 5G RAN

The MEC server integrates with the Radio Access Network to process and store data closer to the end user for faster response times. This allows network administrators to integrate their applications with real-time RAN information, which can be used to automatically route and orchestrate network traffic. 

The MEC application also enables multi-tenant hosting and virtualization services, which are useful for managed service providers and larger organizations looking for more granular control over their cellular resources.

Open Standard Design

MEC was designed to integrate with different RANs and support a variety of network vendors when made part of an enterprise infrastructure. Administrators can take advantage of MEC’s open standards, vast API library, and ready-to-deploy software development kits to launch new services faster while simplifying their enterprise environment.

How Mobile Edge Computing Works

To understand how MEC works, we’ve broken down a typical MEC environment into four parts: architecture, host, platform, and applications.


MEC uses a flexible architecture that relies on virtual network functions to control and route traffic. The Virtualization Infrastructure Manager manages the compute, network, and storage resources across the MEC environment.

MEC Host

The MEC host server provides the environment to support virtualization and run the MEC applications across a physical server or cloud environment. One or more of the hosts can manage mobile resources across multiple MEC applications.

MEC Platform

The MEC platform manages the process life cycle, mobile services, and resource allocation required for MEC to function. This platform often includes automated controls, which dynamically route traffic based on available resources and service levels set by administrators.

MEC Applications

Lastly, the MEC applications run on the virtual host environment. These applications can include anything from 5G healthcare monitors to industrial IoT sensors.

Mobile Edge Computing Examples

MEC is a relatively new concept but is experiencing widespread adoption, especially in environments using 5G applications and services. Below are a few real-world examples of how mobile edge computing is making businesses better.

Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous vehicles are already on the road and can be found everywhere from warehouse hubs to hotel lobbies. These machines need to continuously process location, speed, orientation, and traffic conditions in real time to work effectively.

MEC provides the resources necessary to support these vehicles with ultra-low latency connections to support their onboard sensors, GPS systems, and cameras. The MEC host environment also enables data processing from other autonomous vehicles nearby, rerouting vehicles through more efficient routes as new information emerges.

Healthcare Applications

Cellular networks allow healthcare providers to collect patient data through wearable sensors, EKG machines, and a variety of other lifesaving equipment. 5G network performance has created a new opportunity to provide immediate health metrics and real-time remote monitoring in hospitals across the globe.

Through MEC, data can be processed faster to help expedite testing and provide key insights to aid doctors in decision-making. MEC networks using 5G can support demanding applications such as augmented reality training and real-time patient monitoring. 

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)

Across the country, industries use Industrial IoT sensors to monitor performance, safety, and resource usage. Oil, gas, electric, and water treatment plants can benefit by using SCADA systems that leverage MEC.

MEC environments can process data requests in real time for predictive / proactive monitoring of critical infrastructure. MEC platforms can host a variety of automation and alert capabilities that improve site security, safety, and performance.

Why the Future Is Edgeless

Despite the success of mobile edge computing, the architecture does have its downsides, especially for larger enterprises. Today, the application layer has become dispersed with data scattered across on-premises, hybrid cloud, physical, and virtual environments.

This creates complexity that makes administration, orchestration, and security difficult to unify and manage. Managing a vast network of MEC hosts often results in patchwork solutions that make it difficult to scale and impossible to apply company-wide policies from a central location.

While MEC has played a massive role in modern computing, it’s clear an architectural change is needed to solve these challenges. Celona’s Edgeless Enterprise combines 5G networking with cloud-native software principles to unify policy frameworks across any existing network infrastructure. This architecture was designed specifically for enterprises to tackle the challenges of managing multiple edge environments.

Given that it is designed to interoperate with any MEC and compute environment, Celona’s network operating system is already “edgeless” by design. 

Edgeless enterprise architecture centralizes management through a cloud-native service that provides access control, policy-based routing, quality of service, and security segmentation. This allows administrators to quickly orchestrate their policies, deploy services, and make company-wide changes with more agility than traditional edge computing models.

The edgeless architecture also supports services to enable application-aware provisioning, dynamic QoS, and policy automation. If you’re interested in learning more about edgeless architecture, check out our Edgeless Enterprise whitepaper.

The Celona Solution

Within a Celona 5G LAN, plug-and-play cellular wireless access points can be quickly deployed throughout the facility and managed centrally via cloud-based operations to ensure service-level objectives on critical applications, such as throughput and latency requirements, are consistently met. Celona’s industry-first approach enables enterprise organizations to build their own private 4G LTE and 5G networks as a seamless turnkey solution

With a Celona 5G LAN, the out-of-the-box experience is drastically simplified, operations across a large network can be performed at scale, and onboarding can be done alongside existing wireless and IT infrastructure, without interrupting business operations.

To get started, check out a live demo of Celona’s solution by visiting us at celona.io/journey where you can also sign up for a free trial of a Celona 5G LAN.

On-Demand Demo

See a Celona 5G LAN in action and learn the basics

Share on:

Stay in touch with Celona news.