5G Network Slicing FAQs: A Quick Guide

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We discuss the following topics in this blog:

  1. What is network slicing?
  2. Why is network slicing needed?
  3. Highlights of network slicing:
  4. How many slices is 5G?
  5. What is the network function in 5G?
  6. How is network slicing done?
  7. What is 5G Radio Access Network (RAN) slicing?
  8. What does network slicing in 5G enables?
  9. How SDN and network slicing is going to help 5G?
  10. What are the benefits of the 5G network slicing technique?

In addition to these topics, we shall also be answering the following FAQs:

  1. What is WiFi?
  2. What is an Optical Fibre Cable?

In this brief blog, we will answer all the basic questions that revolve around the world of 5G network slicing.

1. What is network slicing?

5Network slicing is transforming an existing network into a set of logical networks and slicing it according to requirements.  The network slice is a logically separated, self-contained, independent network that can handle different services and conditions such as speed, latency, and reliability. 

2. Why is network slicing needed?

Network slicing provides many slices of the physical network, and each slice is isolated from the other. Network operators can now allocate the right number of resources per each network slice, enabling better utilization of resources.  For example, a particular slice may require low latency and low data rate, while another slice may require high latency and high throughput – the slice can be designed and configured accordingly to suit each use case.

Besides, it helps network operators to reduce their operating expenses (OPEX) and capital expenses (CAPEX); with the operational efficiency, it offers faster time to market in the case of 5G.

3. Highlights of network slicing:

  • Software-defined networking and network function virtualization for the partitioning of network architectures into virtual elements.
  • Network slicing allows network operators to have a portion of the network provide the exact features a segment of the customer base needs.
  • Network slicing is easy to adopt and provides specific needs of unique industries.

4. How many slices is 5G?

There can be limited network slices that can be configured, depending on business needs and operational efficiency. However, these slices will scale up over time with evolving technology and architecture that comes with it at that point in time.

5. What is the network function in 5G?

The 5G network functions are broadly classified as:

  • User Plane Function (UPF). 

UPF represents the evolution of the data plane function of the packet gateway (PGW), which gets separated from control and user plane separation (CUPS), and allows data forwarding to be deployed, and is capable to scale independently to facilitate packet processing and traffic aggregation, and that gets distributed to the network edge

  • Access and Mobility Management Function (AMF). 

AMF is designed to handle connections and mobility management tasks when it receives all connection and session information from end-user equipment or RAN. All session management tasks are forwarded to the Session Management Function (SMF).

  • Session Management Function (SMF)

The SMF is one of the control plane networks functions in the 5G network. SMF takes the responsibility of session management and interacts with the decoupled data plane by creating, updating, and removing Protocol Data Unit (PDU) sessions and managing session context within the User Plane Function (UPF).

6. How is network slicing done?

Each network slicing is administered by a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). Using software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), orchestration, analytics, and automation, MVNOs can create network slices that can support a set of users and specific applications.  

7. What is 5G Radio Access Network (RAN) slicing?

5G RAN slicing is a software solution that supports end-end network slicing capabilities for dynamic resource management and orchestration, ensuring an enhanced end-user experience for each use case 

8. What does network slicing in 5G enables?

In 5G, network slicing enables speed, latency, reliability, and security.  The creation of the network slices is dynamic and can be done in minutes with automation. Slicing promises to provide customers with the minimum amount of throughput for their connections.

9. How SDN and network slicing is going to help 5G?

SDN is a significant component implemented in the 5G networking architecture to reduce limitations often placed by using hardware. SDN’s primary purpose is to separate the control plane outside the switches and provide external data control using the SDN controller’s logical software component.

10. What are the benefits of the 5G network slicing technique?

5G provides low latency connections with high bandwidth capability; it’s faster to initiate a connection and send more information to the user.   With network slicing, businesses can allocate different latency and bandwidths for applications, depending on each use case. STL is ahead in the 5G race with its 5G ready digital platform helping telcos, cloud companies, and large enterprises deliver enhance end user experience. 

To understand on how STL’s 5G is making the big difference, read here. To know more about network slicing read our blog on network slicing model & its use cases.

FAQs

What is WiFi?

Put simply, WiFi is a technology that uses radio waves to create a wireless network through which devices like mobile phones, computers, printers, etc., connect to the internet. A wireless router is needed to establish a WiFi hotspot that people in its vicinity may use to access internet services. You’re sure to have encountered such a WiFi hotspot in houses, offices, restaurants, etc.

To get a little more technical, WiFi works by enabling a Wireless Local Area Network or WLAN that allows devices connected to it to exchange signals with the internet via a router. The frequencies of these signals are either 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz bandwidths. These frequencies are much higher than those transmitted to or by radios, mobile phones, and televisions since WiFi signals need to carry significantly higher amounts of data. The networking standards are variants of 802.11, of which there are several (802.11a, 802.11b, 801.11g, etc.).

What is Optical Fibre Cable?

An optical fibre cable is a cable type that has a few to hundreds of optical fibres bundled together within a protective plastic coating. They help carry digital data in the form of light pulses across large distances at faster speeds. For this, they need to be installed or deployed either underground or aerially. Standalone fibres cannot be buried or hanged so fibres are bunched together as cables for the transmission of data. This is done to protect the fibre from stress, moisture, temperature changes and other externalities.

There are three main components of a optical fibre cable, core (It carries the light and is made of pure silicon dioxide (SiO2) with dopants such as germania, phosphorous pentoxide, or alumina to raise the refractive index; Typical glass cores range from as small as 3.7um up to 200um), Cladding (Cladding surrounds the core and has a lower refractive index than the core, it is also made from the same material as the core; 1% refractive index difference is maintained between the core and cladding; Two commonly used diameters are 125µm and 140µm) and Coating (Protective layer that absorbs shocks, physical damage and moisture; The outside diameter of the coating is typically either 250µm or 500µm; Commonly used material for coatings are acrylate,Silicone, carbon, and polyimide).

An optical fibre cable is made up of the following components: Optical fibres – ranging from one to many. Buffer tubes (with different settings), for protection and cushioning of the fibre. Water protection in the tubes – wet or dry. A central strength member (CSM) is the backbone of all cables. Armoured tapes for stranding to bunch the buffer tubes and strength members together. Sheathing or final covering to provide further protection.

The five main reasons that make this technology innovation disruptive are fast communication speed, infinite bandwidth & capacity, low interference, high tensile strength and secure communication. The major usescases of optical fibre cables include intenet connectivity, computer networking, surgery & dentistry, automotive industry, telephony, lighting & decorations, mechanical inspections, cable television, military applications and space.

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