Vodafone Business attempted to grasp the initiative in supporting advanced 5G applications based on multi-access edge computing (MEC), unveiling a series of pilots and detailing plans for innovation hubs in the UK and Germany focused on the technology.

The operator’s enterprise arm stated the trials are already underway. Developed in collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Vodafone hailed them as European firsts.

Vodafone plans to launch its full MEC service in 2021 and open a commercial centre in London providing access to an “ultra-low latency zone” in its 5G network to help companies develop applications.

It added the facility would offer a head start in the development of new digital services thanks to access to real-time analytics in the test phase.

In a statement, Vodafone Group CTO Johan Wibergh (pictured) 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.”

It plans to expand testing facilities elsewhere in the UK and in Germany.

Amazon partnership
Vodafone was one of a number of operators to announce collaborations with Amazon in 2019 to develop 5G edge computing propositions for enterprise customers.

The resulting platform embeds Amazon’s cloud computing platform AWS Wavelength into the edge of Vodafone’s 4G and 5G networks.

Initial pilots are being undertaken by airspace security business Dedrone; Digital Barriers, which specialises in analytics for videos taken by frontline emergency workers; streaming application company Groopview; and AI analytics business Unleash live.

Here Technologies will trial the system in Germany for its road hazard warning system business during 2021.

Vodafone noted the combination of 5G and MEC would eventually provide the basis for remote surgery, industrial robots and autonomous cars by offering ultra-low latency response times between the user and application housed within the edge of the network.

Its business division also announced a forthcoming MEC innovation programme, in partnership with AWS, to encourage enterprises to experiment with the technology with further details set to be released in 2021.