Solar Eclipse: Charting The Path Toward 5G Totality

Oregon, specifically central Oregon, lies in the path of totality for the solar eclipse. While it’s exciting, we’re also bracing for a massive influx of people eager to experience total darkness in the middle of the day. Early reports are predicting up to one million cars hitting Oregon’s highways, which our infrastructure isn’t prepared to handle. Many companies are encouraging employees to work from home so they can experience the first total eclipse to cross the continental United States in 38 years – without getting stuck in 10 hours of traffic. Radisys, located in Hillsboro, Oregon, lies just north of the path of totality. We’ll be stepping outside at 10:00am on August 21 to experience this once-in-a-lifetime event.

But it’s not just our roads that will feel the strain. Cellular infrastructure will be stretched past capacity, especially in rural communities that are preparing for the sudden localized population explosion. Anyone hoping to live stream the eclipse, or even just call their family, may be out of luck. The potential strain on this critical infrastructure has prompted the Oregon Dept. of Emergency Management to create a Special Event Guide for communities. And just as importantly for everyone in those areas, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile are working to increase capacity for mobile networks by deploying portable towers and “cells on wheels.” In essence, these service providers are bringing the network to the edge, and in this case pushing the edge out as far as possible.

Much of what we are seeing in these deployments are various iterations of Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC), an essential part of delivering 5G in the future. By moving network processing functions closer to the end user, MEC enables service providers to deliver the experience that end users expect with today’s low latency, high bandwidth applications and live streaming services. MEC environments provide an optimized environment for improved delivery of many new and emerging services. For example, providing real-time analytics of bandwidth availability can be used to optimize video frame and bitrates of streamed content. This will significantly improve the video streaming service experiences for the tens of thousands of solar eclipse watchers connecting to the network.

The upcoming solar eclipse may not only be a wonder of nature and great for Oregon tourism, but in many ways, this is as unique of an opportunity to observe and learn from a real-world use case as the industry continues to make 5G a reality. As users seek to connect and live stream the eclipse, localized surges in demand will allow us to evaluate how a variety of solutions perform, and identify the challenges and opportunities as the industry continues to leverage MEC to advance toward 5G.

Radisys is excited to watch the eclipse (with the proper safety glasses, of course!) along with all of our current and new friends who will be joining us. We’ll also be watching and learning from all the CSPs who are working diligently to make sure that we are all able to document and share these memories with the rest of the world.

This is a great time for Oregon, and the Telecoms industry. Radisys remains committed to delivering open telecom solutions which will make the lessons learned from this event a reality.

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