Skip navigation
Person with headset

Dynamic device offloading as a 6G service

Network Compute Fabric

Network Compute Fabric is a global system of interconnected components such as cloud computing, storage, networking, wireless connectivity, and mobile devices. It supports a rich and flourishing application ecosystem and has become all-pervasive.

The emergence of the Network Compute Fabric was accelerated by the convergence of two major trends– faster, more reliable connectivity and widespread availability of computational services driven by virtualization. It is rapidly evolving toward AI-enhanced cyber-physical systems to enable future applications.

What is the network compute fabric?

Today, application developers have immense power at their disposal. They can count on billions of personalized devices, which are connected to compute and storage capacity every minute of the day. The advances in networking, particularly wireless networking combined with the evolution of devices and cloud computing, resulted in a worldwide, scalable, easy-to-program platform for innovation. This platform has become indispensable for our society. It enhances lives, drives business, and helps the environment. We call this platform the Network Compute Fabric.

“The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it,” wrote Mark Weiser more than 30 years ago in his seminal paper on ubiquitous computing: The computer for the 21st century.

Today, the Network Compute Fabric has emerged as one of these profound technologies that we increasingly rely on but notice less and less. This is because the Network Compute Fabric also represents a business ecosystem, in which the individual components adapt and fit into each other to allow seamless interworking. Development in one area spurs innovation in another, and features introduced by one component enable advances in others.

Initial steps of the Network Compute Fabric are already happening with 5G and Edge use cases

Initial steps of the Network Compute Fabric are already happening with 5G and Edge use cases.

Mobile networks are a critical component of the Network Compute Fabric, providing valuable features and capabilities. These capabilities are increasingly available to applications through Network Exposure APIs and include legacy services like SMS and telephony as well as services enabled by new generations of mobile systems such as device management, identity, security, QoS, or location services. For instance, offloading critical tasks from devices to network-integrated compute enables rich immersive communication experiences, while optimizing compute and energy trade-offs to extend the battery life of the device.  

Integrating networking and compute services is beneficial in specific situations and, through collaborative design and end-to-end control, it might boost the robustness, availability, or security of the solution, especially for the private or government sector. For example, low-latency applications require proper handling in both the network and compute components of the platform, therefore their integration is crucial.

As device, cloud, and network capabilities evolve, the Network Compute Fabric will also be capable of supporting machine-oriented applications. These cyber-physical systems are used to control devices that demand strong communication performance and ample compute power for AI.


Exposure is a key component of the Network Compute Fabric, ensuring that services and capabilities are at the disposal of developers in an easy-to-consume fashion, preferably through APIs.

To support the fast time-to-market goals of modern software development methodologies, the network will adapt to provide quick, easy, low-cost, and resilient service and data exposure creation.

Many connected mobile devices lack either the capabilities or the energy capacity to run certain applications with high quality-of-experience for an extended period. A compelling mitigation to this is to offload the critical parts of the application to a location with high computation capacities and a steady power supply.

A compute offloading service exposed and bundled with mobile connectivity services offers both application developers and users a convenient and easy way to extend device capabilities whenever needed.

The Network Compute Fabric also enables extensive in-network computation. Modern transport networking equipment will no longer be limited to packet transport, but also provide programmable compute capabilities. This will pave the way for new areas of application functionality where data manipulation tasks, such as IoT data process or media encoding/decoding, can be performed directly in the data plane, as part of the communication pipeline.

Current and emerging use cases often require deterministic performance, which includes characteristics like low latency, high throughput, high reliability, and scalability. To meet end-to-end performance needs, it is therefore necessary to supplement the deterministic and reliable connectivity offerings with corresponding compute capabilities. Connectivity with an integrated real-time compute stack will enable the network platform of the Network Compute Fabric to host and manage critical real-time applications, ensuring end-to-end application performance.

Explore more

Foundations of 6G

In our 6G vision, the network of 2030 will empower ever-present intelligent communication. The Network Compute Fabric will be a key technology component providing tools and services beyond connectivity, hosting computing intertwined with communication.

Computational offloading for future innovations

Computational offloading means moving compute heavy tasks away from resource constrained devices, like drones for example. This provides the flexibility for tasks to be run where they will perform most efficiently.

AI as a service

What exactly is Artificial Intelligence as a Service (AIaaS), and how can the mobile network play a crucial role in supporting the needs of applications?

6G research take-away: integrated network compute fabric

Future 6G use cases such as the Internet of Senses and the Cyber-Physical Continuum will require a new set of capabilities beyond connectivity.

Edge computing is a must for 5G success

Edge computing is key to enabling 5G and IoT enterprise services. Learn more about the solution and how you can get started today.

Read more