In the future, half of the world’s data volume will no longer be generated by or between people but by vehicles, sensors, or other various types of networked devices, according to some predictions. Not only the number of devices but also the volume of data continues to increase dramatically. Telecom equipment supplier Ericsson estimates that global data traffic will increase fivefold to 136 exabytes per month within the next five years, compared to today. The expectation is that a typical end user will generate up to 1.5 gigabytes of data per day, and a vehicle with up to 4 terabytes even several times that amount. The 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project), the organization responsible for cellular standards development, already had these new requirements in mind when it defined the fifth-generation mobile network 5G. At its core, 5G was about offering significantly higher data rates (100 times higher than 4G/LTE), enabling latency times in the millisecond range, and providing significantly higher availability and reliability of the network. However, the significant increase in the number of end devices, the explosion in the volumes of data exchanged, and the need for minimum latency times are placing new demands which 5G technology alone may not meet. The concept of edge computing provides a solution. The idea behind it is simple: bring the cloud with its computing capacity closer to the users and thus achieve runtimes of less than 10 milliseconds but without losing the advantages of the cloud. In simpler terms, edge computing means running fewer processes in the cloud and moving those processes to local devices, such as on a user’s smartphone, computer, an internet of things device, or an edge server.

While the edge computing concept may reduce the volume of communication between device and the cloud, edge computing is still heavily dependent on connectivity standards such as 5G or Wi-Fi. Connectivity standards are often subject to thousands of patents and in some cases these patents claim inventions that read on the standardized technology. Such patents are referred to as standard essential patents (SEPs). Companies that define and specify technologies such as 5G or Wi-Fi and that own essential patents for such technologies will be among the technology leaders in a soon fully connected world. To get a better understanding of the landscape of patents, SEPs and standards contributions for edge computing technologies, in this technology report the IPlytics Platform databases were used to analyze edge computing-related patent to understand which companies develop the latest standards that enable edge computing and which companies hold essential assets on edge computing technologies.

This technology report is an executive summary of an article published at Managing IP and provides the latest statistics on the number of patents filed (pending and granted), number of SEP families declared and number of standards contributions that describe edge computing technologies, by current assignee/standards developer.

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