Cut Me A Slice: The Benefits of 5G and Network Slicing

The new 5G mobile network will bring many benefits to Service Providers as well as Enterprises. One of them is widescale Network Slicing – dividing a physical network infrastructure into a set of logically isolated virtual networks. This way, Network Operators will be able to meet the growing number of requirements from a broad-spectrum of users.

Network Slicing in 5G is expected to open new business opportunities for Mobile Operators as they will be able to split their physical network resources into multiple logical slices and offer these slices to customers. Each slice can have a distinguished set of requirements to accommodate different use case needs. This will enable Network Operators to supply customers with fully customised and optimised virtual networks and guarantee end-to-end 5G performance. 5G Network Slicing not only allows meeting requirements of different applications, but also increases revenues by offering SLA-based pricing and tiered performance.

Network Slicing Use Cases

Network Slicing will be the basis for many future technological advances. Use cases are manifold, and all have very different network requirements. For example, Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) will take huge chunks of bandwidth, ultra-reliable Low-Latency Communications (urLLC) will require ultra-fast response times for mission-critical applications, while massive Machine-Type Communications (mMTC) will require a big number of simultaneous mobile connections.

A multitude of industries can benefit from the idea of having separate network slices for each service they use. Here are just a few examples of what differentiating network slices will make possible:

Automotive industry – Today’s vehicles are already connected to the internet. They use many types of services like Navigation, Entertainment and Helpdesk systems, which all have different requirements for connectivity. One service requires huge bandwidth, while others need low latency or high priority. In the future, car manufacturers will have the option to buy several slices of network that will each serve the targeted services with optimised and guaranteed parameters. Autonomous vehicles will not only need dedicated network slices, but they must also ensure their ecosystem partners will uphold that same SLA.

Healthcare industry – Remote surgeries are one of the breakthrough accomplishments of 5G utilisation in the Healthcare industry. Network Slicing will be crucial to ensure superior network coverage at surgical sites, guaranteeing priority and security levels.

IoT – Use cases such as inventory management, smart metering or medical wearables require exceptional service quality and, in some cases, the ability to charge accordingly for the service. Dedicated secure network slices will also address rising security concerns in the IoT sphere.

Gaming industry – Today’s multi-billion-dollar gaming industry has already shown that dedicated network slices are the best way to address the network’s growing requirements. The ability to meet these requirements adequately and charge for these services accordingly can increase the revenues for providers and gamer satisfaction.

What Does End-to-End Network Slicing Architecture Look Like

Network Slicing is one of 5G’s most talked about features. Technically Network Slicing is achieved by utilising Software-Defined Networking (SDN), Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), orchestration, analytics, and automation – emphasising the virtual nature of the 5G network.

Each service or slice could potentially have very different Service-level Requirements (SLR) as well as security and privacy definitions. This is why Network Slicing is providing a shift to a service-oriented view of the network. A popular term widely used today is NSaaS – Network Slice as a Service, the new delivery model.

Every slice would have an ID descriptor, and the slice buyer would use the descriptor as a reference for SLA/contractual agreements with the operator, while the operators can exchange slice descriptors with their roaming partners.

This way, Network Slicing will enable the creation of an end-to-end partitioned network infrastructure. End-to-end meaning that the slice will need to include User equipment, Radio Access (RAN), Core Network, Transport Networks, Edge and Central Data Center resources, in order to offer targeted and optimised requirements for different services, applications and customers across the network.

To enable a slice, you would need to configure each of these network elements to meet the same requirements. Doing it traditionally would, as any engineer will know, include a vast number of different technologies. So, the key to be able to do this efficiently, considering both cost and time to deliver the services, is automation.

How Flint Supports Its Clients

Flint can consult on and implement Automation, SDN and Virtual Network Functions services. We have already engaged with several customers in their selection of Virtualisation platforms and Automation solutions and developed customised automation optimisations.

Having the ability to work with multiple vendors through their 5G evolution, gives Flint an edge that is of great value to our customers. No matter if you are an Enterprise or a Service provider, our team of top-notch engineers that are skilled through multiple vendors can certainly help you transition to 5G more smoothly.

Do you have any further questions about Network Slicing or would like to work on a project with us?

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