Vodafone Spain has run a successful trial in Madrid of the potential of Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) technology to reduce network latency and thereby improve mobile and online gaming. For the test, the operator partnered with China-based Huawei and Chinese game publisher Hero Entertainment, connecting eight tablets running the game Crisis Action 2 to its commercial 4G/LTE network. When the tablets were connected via the MEC system, latency was reduced by 90 percent, from 280 milliseconds to 20 milliseconds, substantially boosting the experience for the professional gamers taking part in the trial.
In addition to video gaming, MEC technology will also bring significant performance improvements to security, virtual reality, augmented reality and automotive applications, services in which lower latency is crucial, according to the operator.
With the rise of applications such as mobile gaming that are both very popular and very data-intensive, it is a very good idea for operators to do whatever they can to make sure that their networks are optimized for those applications. In today’s world of mobile entertainment products, traditional criteria about network strength have been superseded when it comes to certain functionalities. In the case of gaming, reducing latency is evidently very important, and milliseconds delay can make the difference between a satisfying and an unsatisfying experience for users.
Partnering with a technology developer and a gaming content provider is a smart move for Vodafone. The recent trial indicates that implementing MEC technology on its network will make a meaningful improvement in terms of mobile gaming, which will gain the operator support among gamers. And since gamers are large consumers of mobile data, having a gaming-optimized network will likely encourage greater data use among these users, as well as eventually attracting more gamers to become Vodafone subscribers—if Vodafone is indeed able to offer a better experience for them than rival operators can.
In addition, since MEC technology also benefits other applications such as security, augmented reality and connected cars, investment in it will reward the operator in ways that go beyond gaming revenue. Clearly, in order to stay competitive in the emerging, diverse mobile marketplace, operators are going to need to improve their networks in new ways that mesh with new technologies.