5G Network Slicing Use Cases-Tracing Untold Possibilities

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When eyeing for more is the key to getting things done, telecommunications networks, like everything else, can’t afford but strike a balance across its offerings.

As 5G and edge computing draw more power from AI integration, there’s no stopping it from emerging as the most extensive boom since mobility came into the picture. And that is where network slicing under 5G architecture can be of pivotal significance.

Essentially, network slicing is the single most ingenious tool that has the potential to usher a string of revenue opportunities, especially in the enterprise space where wireless hotspots and fiber optic cables realize the dreams of a connected world. In time, such innovations will only function to widen the horizon across multiple networks.

This post offers a comprehensive view of network slicing within the 5G architecture and illustrates the best use cases that establish its vitality.

Read on to find out more.

What does Network Slicing in 5G mean?

Furthermore, network slicing also allows the creation of slices devoted to logical and self-contained partitioned network functions using common resources like processors.

The 5G Network Slicing Architecture

Simply put, Network Slicing offers a comprehensive view of what was once referred to as the “best network” concept in telecommunications. In other words, the idea is to build several logical networks referred to as “Network Slices” atop physical resources and offer them as a service to garner support for a wide range of requirements.
NFV is another imperative component of a 5G Network Slicing Architecture that facilitates network functionality for virtual machines using a virtualized server to deliver services that would have traditionally used proprietary hardware.

Network virtualization offers a unique window to split single network connections into different virtual connections with varying traffic demands. Using 5G architecture, operators can now divide several portions of their network for certain customer use cases, ranging from smart homes to the energy grid, connected cars, and IoT infused manufacturing. Thus, each use case benefits from a particular network topology and optimized resources to cover worrying regular SLA factors, namely speed, connectivity, and capacity. All credit goes to two similar moving network virtualization technologies – SDN (Software Defined Networking) and NFV (Network Functions Virtualization) that account for maximum flexibility for network partitioning.

Furthermore, network slicing also allows the creation of slices devoted to logical and self-contained partitioned network functions using common resources like processors.

The 5G Network Slicing Architecture

Like a public transportation system, a 5G Network Slicing Architecture presents a complex layout and constantly adjusts itself to match users’ speed, budget, and volume requirements. The central tenets of the architecture are E2E network slicing and logical isolation coming from other network slices.

However, as touched upon before, the two most essential counterparts of a 5G network architecture are SDN and NFV. The former is solely responsible for managing the traffic inflow via central control plane APIs (Application Program Interface). At the same time, the latter is used to manage the network slices lifecycle and the associated infrastructure. SDN also functions to support data forwarding and rule processing working from the control plane.

NFV is another imperative component of a 5G Network Slicing Architecture that facilitates network functionality for virtual machines using a virtualized server to deliver services that would have traditionally used proprietary hardware.

Impressive Use Cases

Now that you understand the potential of network slicing within the 5G architecture, let’s get on with some prominent use cases.

5G Surgery

One of the most rewarding 5G network slicing outcomes, remote surgeries are undoubtedly a significant breakthrough.

Imagine the power of little robotic arms that are controlled by expert surgeons sitting halfway across the world.

In 2019, Spain’s Dr. Antonio De Lucy was the first to successfully perform a 5G-driven telemonitored surgery. The lag time for the 5G connection during the procedure was 0.01 seconds, which is a sharp contrast to 0.27 seconds of latency witnessed across 4G wireless networks across many developing nations. Although the surgery is remote, any lag more significant than a couple of seconds can be detrimental to the patient, where 5G network slicing contributes impressively.

Considering that more than seventy percent of the global population will be living in the city by the next decade, it is apparent that a more significant chunk of medical expertise will remain restricted to cities alone. In other words, it means that one shall still have thirty percent people in the world who are still paying their taxes right but are far from getting the best healthcare services.

With remote surgeries, it is possible to do away with such odds of urbanization, as rural or people with limited resources can be brought in close quarters with specialist surgeons who are otherwise absent in their locality.

Gaming

The gaming industry is going great guns as the gradual shift is being witnessed across all age groups. Gaming is no more a recreational activity for kids and teenagers but a lifestyle element.  With 5G network slicing, cloud gaming is all set to witness a rewarding future. Reportedly, a 5G network slice was earlier optimized this year at the hands of Ericsson for a cloud virtual reality game cloud that demanded nothing short of high network performance, especially when you talk about network latency. This is chiefly because a network delay of more than 20 milliseconds can put off a user’s game experience in a typical cloud gaming scenario. Any lag beyond that makes it almost impossible to carry on.

In essence, network slicing is helping to create great gaming foundations for both serious and casual gamers, as one can still play their favorite titles without worrying about who else is racking up extra data for another gameplay in action. 


IoT Slices

Multiple high-value IoT use cases, including medical wearables and worrying inventory management, always demand top-notch service. With 5g network slicing, IoT slices can make the most out of mass surveillance and intrusive instruments, like wearables that can detect whether a woman is pregnant before she comes to realize it. Now, this can be a tad bit tricky, especially when dealing with sensitive data in any form. Thus, enterprises will require security and assurance to work with the right vendors using the perfect data monitoring tools to overcome underlying challenges.

Autonomous vehicles

With more than forty percent of US adults resorting to learning autonomous vehicle handling, network slicing is also cutting corners.

Reportedly, multinationals like Uber, General Motors, and Apple Inc. have already invested heavily in autonomous vehicles that use many assistant systems that can work in the desired manner due to network slicing in the picture. Also, the data processing and storage across data centers helps the car ply safely across the transport route, avoiding delays or collisions.

The initial tests of 5g were conducted on the A9 freeway running between Nuremberg and Munich; less than 20 milliseconds of latency was experienced. As sensors form an integral part of self-driving cars, network slicing can subdivide the wireless network into several levels. Thus, one can ensure that all safety-related notifications will be given priority over other services like infotainment to avoid traffic jams and provide an optimum driving experience.

Sports

With the advent of 5G network slicing, the sports industry is bent on exploring newer standards of interaction. Take AT&T’s 5G network at the Dallas Cowboys’ home stadium, for instance, where the technology will be dedicatedly utilized to track how fans interact as a game progresses. It includes life-size digital versions of all key players and stats that will be overlaid on the field. Any fan with a dedicated device (smartphone) will be able to track their favorite team’s performance and live stats with AI (Augmented Reality).

Wrap up

Undeniably, 5G network slicing is fast carving up a world of untold possibilities. By the end of 2025, the industry is believed to be worth $300 billion. Nevertheless, for CSPs to bank heavily on the opportunities, end-user satisfaction should be paramount, and effective monitoring of each network slicing should be designed to offer a befitting outcome. Read more in this STL blog on why is 5G network slicing important for Communications Service Providers?

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