Mobile Edge Computing Boosts Performance in Small Cells Enterprise Connectivity

Recently, the outdoor small cell market has started to takeoff. AT&T stated that 50% of its densification efforts would use small cells, Vodafone announced its small-cells roll out at the end of 2014 and these are just 2 examples.

Within the enterprise however, market adoption of small-cells has been slow so far due to the following main reasons:

  1. Poor mobile connectivity to enterprise services – Employees with smartphones connecting to Enterprise services are routed through the public Internet. To ensure security, a VPN has to be used as part of the Enterprise solution. This results in a very long Round Trip Time leading to very poor performance.
  2. Multiple service providers – As the employees within an enterprise use different service providers, multiple small cells need to be deployed on premises. This leads to cumbersome maintenance schemes.

With poor performance and multiple deployment hassles, IT managers often prefer WiFi connectivity for mobile devices, even though it offers inferior security and quality of service in comparison to 3G or 4G. However, a Mobile Edge Computing solution integrated with the small cells infrastructure may change that.

Mobile Edge Computing for Enterprise Connectivity

Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) is a new mobile initiative designed to distribute computational power enabling direct service access and delivery from the radio edge. In the case of a small cells deployment, the radio edge is a small cells aggregation point. To meet the needs of enterprise connectivity the MEC platform needs to offer direct connectivity to the enterprise network while preserving the mobile network functionality.

The MEC Enterprise Connectivity solution requires two main elements:

  1. On Enterprise premises running on a dedicated server or as a virtual machine, the Mobile Edge Computing breakout gateway provides direct connectivity to the Enterprise network for mobile devices.
  2. At the Mobile Network operator Core -The core node preserves the mobile network capabilities (lawful interception, charging, policy control etc.) and enables user mobility.

Mobile Edge Computing and Small Cells Netwrok Diagram

Always On

By deploying the suggested solution, enterprise users may access web services through the company’s LAN, while enjoying enhanced speed, quality and security of. In addition to this, users may also enjoy a continuous service, as mobility is preserved. When travelling outside the enterprise premises, they stay seamlessly connected.

The benefits for enterprises are numerous including among others:

  1. Deliver high-speed broadband connectivity to enterprise services on mobile devices by slashing the round-trip-time (RTT) to 10ms from the on premise gateway, down from 100ms when routing through the core network.
  2. Connect all company owned phones to the enterprise LAN.
  3. Increase security and improve QoS by using 3G and 4G rather than WiFi.

Looking towards a connected future

With MEC as a driving force, we anticipate that the enterprise small cells market will start showing positive direction in the near future, similarly to the take up exhibited in the urban small cell’s market.

Further Reading

Intel’s White Paper: Smart Cells Revolutionize Service Delivery