IDC views 2021 as an accelerated year for multi-access edge cloud (MEC) investments. IDC forecasts global revenue for multi-access edge cloud (MEC) will grow from $3.5 billion in 2020 to $16.7 billion in 2025. This represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 37.0% over the 2020-2025 forecast period.
MEC investments can include virtual network functions (VNFs), network functions virtualization infrastructure (NFVI), and cloud-native network functions (CNFs), at the carrier edge cloud across four market subsegments – mobile edge, wireline edge, cable edge, and CDN edge.
MEC buildouts are being carried out by a broad spectrum of edge stakeholders to deliver latency-sensitive edge network services. These stakeholders may include wireless and wireline communications service providers, cable companies, content delivery networks (CDNs), and cloud providers).
“As MEC emerges as a viable option for various enterprise verticals, it is becoming a key driver of new revenue streams beyond connectivity and critical for mobile network operators as they attempt to monetize 5G,” said Ajeet Das, research director, Carrier Network Infrastructure at IDC. “Although edge investment is mostly related to 5G/MEC today, we expect edge spending to expand in the wireline market as well as cable MSOs, CDNs, and wireline service providers build edge platforms for low-latency, availability, and security for next-generation enterprise applications.”
Virtual Backhaul, Virtual CDNs, Virtual OLT
Beyond connectivity, MEC buildouts will also allow companies to host apps both on premises and in edge cloud sites. Potential benefits would include the ability to meet stringent data traffic policies, enhance security, and improve real-time control and decision making. The use cases, go-to-market alignments, product innovation, and move to cloud-native architectures by players in the market – telcos, hyperscalers, and carrier infrastructure vendors – remain in development.
IDC is of the view that the acceleration in the development of the mobile edge cloud ecosystem – cable MSOs that invest in edge capabilities, and cloud service providers (CSPs) hosting network edge workloads and partnering with communications service providers to provide MEC solutions for enterprises – will drive the majority of carrier MEC investments over the forecast period.
As part of this forecast, IDC breaks out carrier MEC software spending across mobile edge cloud (e.g., cloud radio access network [RAN] applications, data plane of the packet core and other 5G core functions deployed on a MEC platform, and virtual backhaul), wireline edge cloud (virtual OLT, virtual Broadband Network Gateway [BNG], and virtual CPE and virtual edge routers for MEC deployments), cable edge cloud (virtual CMTS), and carrier CDN edge featuring virtual CDNs that will be collocated with the other three edges. The report by IDC also provides a market overview, including drivers and challenges for communications service providers and consultancy advice for technology suppliers.