How the media
and entertainment
industry is using
mobile edge

Author: Satta Sarmah Hightower

For companies in the media and entertainment industry, the fluid evolution of production and distribution models continues to drive their need for increased computing power to meet consumer demand for information and entertainment. This is why mobile edge computing (MEC) could be a game-changer for the media and entertainment industry.

Mobile edge computing, defined

Mobile edge computing is a type of network architecture in which data is stored and processed close to where it's generated and consumed. 

In a traditional network architecture, data is processed, stored and transmitted to its intended user from a central location, either an on-premise data center or a cloud data center. Increased latency is inherent in this setup, leading to slower upload and download speeds when a user is streaming content or engaging with a virtual live event on their mobile device.

In an edge computing environment, data storage and transmission are more localized. MEC relies on integration at the network edge, cellular access networking and decentralized cloud computing resources. Non-latency-sensitive workloads are typically handled at a centralized cloud data center, while those applications that are latency-sensitive, such as live-event video streaming and virtual reality, are localized at the edge for processing.

As more people consume content on their smartphones, media and entertainment companies will need to lean on modern network architecture models, such as MEC, to deliver best-in-class digital experiences.

How the media and entertainment industry can use MEC

MEC can have an impact on the media and entertainment industry in three key ways: improving content creation, distribution and consumption.

Content creation

MEC can transform how media and entertainment businesses operate, manage internal workflows, deliver core services, protect their intellectual property and help media and entertainment companies develop new business models that increase profitability.

MEC also supplies the scalability and cost efficiency these companies need to extract the most value and performance out of their existing (and future) production equipment, software and critical toolsets. Creative studios, for example, can use it when creating data-intensive visual effects and animations.

MEC also provides the infrastructure needed to streamline content processes, especially for companies with a distributed workforce. Whether an animator is collaborating with a director across the country or a team of editors need to share assets across different satellite offices in the same city, MEC can accelerate the delivery of information across the enterprise and equip media and entertainment companies with the computing resources they need to more efficiently create digital experiences.

Content distribution

Because data is stored closer to the user, MEC also allows media and entertainment companies to deliver content and digital experiences more quickly and with lower latency. Because some data is processed centrally while other data is processed at the edge, MEC improves performance. Multiple applications needing significant bandwidth can run at the same time.

MEC is even more powerful when combined with 5G network connectivity. The next-generation wireless technology improves network performance and speed, and it can handle the density of workloads created by IoT devices and other resource-intensive applications. When paired with MEC, 5G places workloads close to the user and facilitates real-time data transfer, giving game developers, studios, broadcasters, media networks and other content producers a more elastic infrastructure for content creation and distribution.

Content consumption

Consumers of media and entertainment content can also benefit from MEC. Content delivery speed has become critical in an age where consumers expect pages to load in under a few seconds. An infrastructure built on a 5G network and mobile edge computing can increase engagement among content consumers. Social media users are often frustrated by feeds that won't load during times of heavy traffic. The same goes for people trying to watch live-streamed programs only to get choppy, pixelated video. With 5G and mobile edge computing, these scenarios are less likely—the consumer experience isn't compromised.

Delivering media and entertainment experiences at the edge

Though mobile edge computing offers distinct advantages, it also comes with certain network requirements.

Because more data—including proprietary company data and consumers' personally identifiable information—is transmitted across networks, the media and entertainment industry needs to ensure that its systems and networks are secure and that it has ironclad data privacy safeguards. Companies also will need to balance bandwidth across their networks as more data is stored at or near the edge to prevent performance and latency issues.

Different devices also have different capabilities and processing powers, so media companies will need to clearly communicate these requirements to users. Some consumers might not yet have access to or be able to afford 5G-enabled devices, or they might not live in areas served by 5G networks. As these technologies become more pervasive and more affordable, equity and access issues will diminish, but companies must be aware of these challenges as they create and deliver content experiences.

Transforming media and entertainment with MEC

MEC is a transformative technology that will improve how media and entertainment companies create and distribute content and how people consume it. With so many devices and so many ways to engage with content, consumers now have little patience for lag time. With MEC and the power of 5G connectivity, media and entertainment companies can deliver engaging and immersive experiences with less heavy lifting.

Learn how the Verizon 5G Edge platform can help you deliver the content your consumers demand.