Vodafone has officially opened its Edge Innovation Lab in MediaCity, offering Manchester the opportunity to create a global leadership position in the technology community. The lab itself will focus on a technology called Multi-access Edge Compute (known as MEC for short) and the new services which it will enable. MEC lowers the latency of applications, which means they become more responsive.
It effectively brings the power of 5G and the cloud closer to the people using it in a more economical way. This could mean mobile gaming with zero lag or buffer-less video streaming experiences. It could also mean bringing to life ideas that would otherwise be impossible to deliver otherwise. In the future, combining MEC technology with 5G could mean applications respond faster than the human brain processes information. This near-real time responsiveness of applications will allow for new services to become much more commonplace.
Andrea Dona, Chief Network Officer at Vodafone, says: “Imagine drone delivery of packages. Autonomous vehicles. Virtual and augmented reality experiences on your mobile. Expert surgeons could assist procedures, giving direction through holograms or haptic suits in real-time from the other side of the country.
“For years, we have spoken about the economic opportunity which new digital technologies offer the UK. With the launch of Vodafone’s Edge Innovation Lab at HOST in MediaCity, we can start to see this promise come to life.
“Before we dive into the details, let’s look at the two key points. Firstly, edge technologies allow for the creation of next-generation services that would be at home in science-fiction movies. And secondly, this is one of the first Edge Innovation labs to be launched worldwide.
“With this lab, local businesses and software developers can access technologies very few others around the world can. This is an opportunity to get a head start on rivals, a vehicle to create the next generation of digital services before anyone else. Manchester can be a worldwide centre of excellence for edge and cloud technologies.
“This is the advantage of the Edge Innovation lab to the Greater Manchester area. Soon enough we’ll have MEC and 5G Standalone available in the region to innovators to experiment with. Vodafone can supply the tools, now all we need are the ideas to bring the future to life.
“Perhaps this is applying new technologies to existing processes, services and operators. Or it could be a concept that would seem utterly impossible or farcical to 99% of the population.
“Let’s not forget, no-one realised they needed Uber before 2012. It was only when 4G arrived in the UK, people started using mobile data more readily that they realised how much of a benefit services like Uber were. The same could be said for MEC. Mobile applications or other digital services that react faster than the human brain might seem excessive now, but it is only when the new idea that revolutionises society emerges that we question how we possibly got by before.
“MEC presents that opportunity to innovators and businesses in the Greater Manchester area. You now have access to tools that few others around the world do, and we encourage you to explore what is possible to drive forward Manchester’s digital community.”