edge computing in China

Beijing focuses on edge computing in China: 7 of the top 10 edge computing patent submitting orgs are Chinese

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The Chinese edge computing industry is a relatively young market. Edge computing is a form of computation that is performed on-site or adjacent to a specific data source, which minimizes the need to process data remotely in the data center. Edge computing can be used in many ways, including security and medical monitoring, self-driving cars, and video conferencing. By utilizing edge computing alongside the cloud, businesses and individuals can achieve higher speed, security and scalability when handling their data.

So, if the Chinese edge computing industry is still young, who are the leading players in the global edge computing industry? Some key players operating in the edge computing market include Amazon Web Services, Intel, Cisco Systems, Microsoft Corporation, and Huawei. Up till now, the US has dominated most of the global edge computing market. However, China is investing significant effort and research into this new, growing industry. According to greyb, 7 out of the top 10 organizations leading in edge computing patent submissions are from China, with State Grid Corp of China at number one. A narrower focus on universities and research institutes with the most edge computing patents would reveal China to be aconsistent presence across numerous top 10 lists.

State Grid Corp of China has the most edge computing patents in the world edge computing in China
Image: Wikipedia, State Grid Corp of China has the most edge computing patents in the world

Use cases of edge computing in China

The most appropriate use cases for edge computing include ultra-low latency, real-time processing for real-time computing and high-volume data transfers. Below are three key use cases of edge computing in China.

  • Completely self-driving vehicles are in significant need of edge computing, with an expected ramp up occurring between the years 2023 to 2025. This is due to the shift towards level 4 or 5 of vehicle autonomy requiring more road infrastructure investment, vehicle technology and legislation development.
  • The fourth industrial revolutionin the automation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices in China will require the aid of edge computing. The Chinese industrial sector accounts for 41% of the country’s GDP and to increase productivity, edge computing helps to secure a low-latency connection for the transferal of data. Smart factories and ports are already partaking in early edge deployments.
  • AR/VR gaming and e-sportswill likely gain momentum in 2021-2022, with the help of wider deployment of edge infrastructure. In-venue live entertainment and on-location TV broadcasting could also seek advantages from utilizing edge computing.

5G and the Internet of Things is fuelling growth of edge computing in China

The global edge computing market size is forecasted to grow at a 34.1% CAGR from $3.6 billion in 2020 to $15.7 billion in 2025. The expansion of Internet of Things (IoT) applications and the blossoming 5G market drive the growth of edge computing in China. China is already the world’s largest IoT market and is projected to take the biggest slice of the 5G market in the next few years too.

The GSMA Intelligence IoT enterprise Survey discovered that approximately 50% of Chinese firms found edge computing necessary for future IoT deployments. Furthermore, the survey notes that 76% of Chinese firms intend to incorporate 5G into their future IoT deployments. Compared to other countries, Chinese enterprises show greater awareness of 5Gs capabilities in delivering alongside edge computing. The stronger awareness is in part due to early partnerships and trials from Chinese operators.

The Chinese edge computing industry is spearheaded by both major public cloud providers and CDN players. Major public cloud providers include Alibaba, Tencent and Huawei while traditional CDN companies are ChinaNetCenter and Baishan Cloud. Since technologies such as 5G and IoT sensors accelerate the creation of data, data security has become much more of a concern.  Edge cloud security services are of vital importance due to data generation occurring near the edge cloud. In a strategic acquisition, BaishanCloud bought Shanghai YUNDUN in 2019 to enhance the security product feature in its edge cloud functions.

Collaborations within edge computing in China

There are several notable collaborations and contributions within the Chinese edge computing industry. Below are some recent events:

  • In 2017, Huawei and China Mobile Beijing worked together on a pilot project for a smart stadium at Beijing South Railway Station based on multi-access edge computing (MEC). With the help of Huawei’s MEC@CloudEdge solution, China Mobile Beijing could integrate certain video content into the smart stadium’s edge gateway. China Mobile users would then scan a QR code to access the videos and sign up for video package subscriptions. The users benefited from reduced costs and latency, while enjoying exclusive ultra-HD viewing experience.
  • In 2018, Tencent collaborated with Nokia, and created a joint research facility to conduct 5G applications research using edge computing. This research was to provide beneficial solutions to a multitude of vertical markets, including intelligent manufacturing, energy, finance, transportation, and entertainment.
  • In 2020, China mobile IoT partnered with Intel to introduce Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) servers with the Intel Visual Cloud Accelerator Card – Analytics (VCAC – A). This enables high processing capabilities as well as strong deep learning inference capabilities for machine vision on the edge.
  • In 2020, Chinese telecommunications and information technology company ZTE Corporation collaborated with China Mobile to launch China’s first 5G intelligent medical edge cloud platform. The platform helps big data to be calculated, stored, and managed flexibly with significantly less network delay and shorter network routes.
Beijing South Railway Station becomes a smart stadium for a new pilot project enforced by China Mobile Beijing and Huawei edge computing in China
Image: Wikimedia, Beijing South Railway Station becomes a smart stadium for a new pilot project enforced by China Mobile Beijing and Huawei

The main takeaway on edge computing in China

The Chinese edge computing industry is still in early development, but China is keen to get a hold of the market. Its continued rigorous pursuit grows due to demand from its other significant industries such as 5G and IoT. Edge computing has a multitude of use cases in China and will be indispensable for maintaining competitive edge. A first foray into this market may include a collaboration with a local edge computing leader.

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