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Vodafone launches edge computing lab at MediaCityUK


Vodafone today opens its new Edge Innovation Lab in MediaCityUK, in what it claims is a UK first.

The lab, located at HOST, will “support the development of Manchester and the surrounding region into a Northern digital powerhouse,” by offer the opportunity for companies, academics, software developers and public sector organisations to see and test the possibilities of the next generation in network technology – Multi-access Edge Compute (MEC).

Software developers and innovators in the Greater Manchester region will have access to these technologies in the earliest stages of development. This head start will, says Vodafone, create a global centre of excellence for real-time mobile applications in the region, supporting the growth of digitally-led businesses and industries in the area, as well as in the rest of the UK.

Nick Gliddon, business director, Vodafone UK, said: “MEC enables the creation of digital services and platforms that would otherwise be impossible to deliver. The lab offers innovators the opportunity to experiment with next-generation technologies and bring to life ideas that could revolutionise the way we do business and deliver public services. It will place Manchester at the centre of the next stage of digital revolution.”

MEC technology enables real-time data processing at the network edge, allowing for the creation of low latency services that would not be possible on today’s traditional network infrastructure. By installing specialist servers, either in Vodafone or customer facilities, applications are able to respond to commands significantly faster. The time applications take to respond, known as latency, is a barrier for next generation innovations that require almost instantaneous reactions, or are powered by artificial intelligence. When combined with 5G, latency could be reduced to speeds faster than the human brain processes information.

Use cases enabled by MEC include autonomous vehicles, autonomous operations in factories, immersive augmented and virtual reality, remote medicine, cloud gaming and drone transport.

Vodafone has deployed dedicated MEC servers at the Edge Innovation Lab and has launched a Distributed MEC zone in the Manchester area in partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS), as part of their AWS Wavelength Zone infrastructure. Vodafone will also showcase Mixed Reality and Visual Inspection services at the lab.

Tosca Colangeli, president of Vodafone’s MEC partner Kyndryl UK&I, added: “We are excited to be supporting the Edge Innovation Lab in Salford and to use the facility as inspiration for our joint customer engagements. We expect edge technologies to increasingly become an enabler of business outcomes; allowing end users to reap the benefits of traditional cloud computing while gaining advantages such as reduced data latency, better data autonomy and enhanced security.”

Alongside the launch of the lab, Vodafone is also running the Edge Innovation Programme 2.0.


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