Light Cloud: Enabling Experience-Sensitive Services at the Network Edge - Mobile World Live

Light Cloud: Enabling Experience-Sensitive Services at the Network Edge

22 MAY 2019



MEC (Multi-access Edge Computing) offers application developers and content providers cloud-computing capabilities and an IT service environment at the edge of the network. This environment is characterized by ultra-low latency and high bandwidth. MEC provides a new ecosystem and value chain. Operators can provide MEC applications by themselves or open their network edge to authorized third-parties, allowing them to flexibly and rapidly deploy innovative applications and services towards subscribers, enterprises and vertical segments. However, operators face business model, cost and competition challenges when deploying MEC infrastructure.

Business model: It is difficult for operators to find seed applications in different stages to get commercial returns and to cover the investment in edge cloud infrastructure.

Cost: 76% of the edge equipment rooms have a less than 30m2 area and inadequate power supply. Adding universal MEC infrastructure to these equipment rooms requires a long period and massive investments.

Competition: Against the central cloud, it is hard for the edge cloud to gain a differentiated competitive advantage.

To help operators address these challenges, ZTE introduced Light Cloud, which is the industry’s first embedded MEC solution, to deploy a cloud infrastructure at the network edge by embedding MEC cards in equipment such as BNGs, OLTs and BBUs as needed (shown as Figure 1). 

ZTE Light Cloud Solution

The Light Cloud solution has the following unique advantages:

– Zero footprint: Light Cloud only occupies idle card slots of the existing edge network equipment and does not require extra room space. By contrast, a universal MEC server needs a separate rack.

– Installation in minutes: Installing an MEC card takes only a few minutes, while deploying a rack plus a universal MEC server requires several hours.

– No extra power required: The MEC card is powered by the existing edge network equipment and falls within the power budget of the equipment room. By contrast, a universal server may lie outside of the power budget and require extra power.

– 2x performance boost: The Light Cloud solution employs programmable Network Processors (NPs) of the edge equipment to double speeds of traffic forwarding for MEC applications, thereby expanding the latency advantage of MEC technology.

  • Edge CDN in Light Cloud

As video resolution gets sharper, a single video stream requires higher bandwidth. In particular, each 4K, 8K and VR video stream needs a bandwidth of 40 Mbps, 80 Mbps, and 160 Mbps respectively. Moving the CDN to the edge will dramatically reduce the transmission costs. In addition, high-resolution video traffic is increasingly sensitive to latency. The TCP transmission of 4K, 8K and VR videos requires a network latency of less than 20ms or even 10ms. Moving the CDN to the edge can dramatically reduce the network transmission latency. A verification test conducted with China Mobile on its live network in Q1 2019 showed that, after the CDN was moved from the DC to the edge, the download latency was shortened by 30% to 50% and the download speed was increased by at least 50%.

Through moving the CDN to the edge, the operator can build unparalleled advantages over Internet videos in terms of service experience to gain market share and commercial returns. At the same time, the operator can create new application scenarios such as live streaming in venues to generate new commercial value.

2) Prospects for Light Cloud

ZTE will keep innovating in key technologies of the Light Cloud solution, including image processing, traffic acceleration, AI learning, big data, encoding and decoding, as well as intelligent network cards. In addition, the edge cloud infrastructure features open capabilities, allowing operators to use it by themselves or rent it out. The infrastructure can also be used to provide the edge network with new MEC capabilities, whose benefits include:

– MEC-based Cloud VR service vastly reduces the hardware requirements for VR terminals, making the terminals more compact, lighter, and thus significantly more comfortable to wear.

– MEC technology can be applied to the industrial Internet to innovate applications including remote mechanical control and real-time industrial data collection, analysis and distribution, thereby transforming the traditional mode of production.

– MEC technology can bring about a brand-new driving experience by enabling 5G-based Internet of Vehicles (IoV) applications.

3) Honors and Achievements

ZTE’s leadership in the field of embedded MEC solutions is reflected in the following honors and achievements.

– In 2018, ZTE Light Cloud solution won the “Access Network Innovation Capability” Award of the Communications World Web.

– On February 18, 2019, ZTE released the industry’s first “White Paper of Built-in Blade in OLT”.

– On February 25, ZTE and Intel jointly launched the Light Cloud solution at MWC 2019.


ZTE Light Cloud solution is a convenient, efficient and reliable way to deploy MEC infrastructure. By deploying services and caching content at the network edge, the solution relieves the core networks of congestion and can efficiently serve local purposes.



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