Why is 5G Network Slicing important for Communications Service Providers?

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While 5G is chronological succession to 4G, the technology has incredible scope in facilitating new industries and revive existing ones. Capable of reaching speeds as high as 20 Gbits per second, supporting one million devices per square kilometer, and offer 1 msec latency 5G networks will revolutionize communication.

A report from the World Economic Forum (WEF) has predicted a global economic value of almost USD 13.2 trillion in global economic value from 5G over the next 15 years.  Emerging applications will include autonomous vehicles, precision agriculture, and immersive entertainment. Additionally, rapid, secure, and robust communication with guaranteed quality will bring better healthcare access with connected ambulances, robotic surgery, and extensive application of drones for autonomous delivery applications.

To understand the immense benefits 5G will offer, let us know the architecture behind it.

5G Network Slicing

5G networks are transforming and updating over 4G networks concerning capacity, performance, and spectrum access. 5G network slicing works by allowing operators to offer parts of their networks for particular client/customer use cases. The use cases can vary from smart homes, the Internet of Things [IoT], or the smart energy grid.

These network architectures empower the creation of multiple independent and virtualized logical networks on top of commonly shared physical network infrastructure. It allows each 5G network slice to be on an isolated end-to-end network personalized to fulfill varied requirements based on specific needs.

5G End to End Network Slicing is agile and programmable. It simplifies building end-to-end connect-and-compute infrastructures that are service-, application-, time-, location-, and context-aware.

5G End to End Network Slicing
5G End to End Network Slicing

Individual use cases get a specific set of optimized resources and network topologies. It ensures coverage of the Service Level Agreement (SLA)-specified factors including connectivity, speed, and capacity based on the requirements of that application.

The new 5G architecture will require Communications Service Providers [CSPs] to plan for:

  • Higher network capacities: The demand for digital content and services over mobile networks is at an all-time high today.  Extrapolating current requirements, 3G, 4G/LTE, small cells, and Wi-Fi-like technologies will be capable of satisfying only a portion of the demands however, 5G will offer a massive broadband spectrum that will deliver huge gigabytes of bandwidth on demand.

  • Denser cell-site grids: The expected growth in mobile devices will lead to a corresponding increase in capacity per device. The forecasted network will have a 1000x increase in capacity density, and it will necessitate more capacity per cell site.

However, a site capacity increase of 1000x the cell-site grids need to be much denser.

  • Small-cell deployments at the street level: Deploying a small cell for communications service providers are challenging due to the logistics, regulations, and cost. A more innovative solution is to mount small outdoor cells on existing infrastructure. With rapid installation and the reduced footprint, they offer the complete 5G experience.
  • Virtualized network functions (VNF): Communications Service Providers designed a network architecture to leverage the IT virtualization technology to classes of network nodes, and it would help make them more responsive and agile.
  • Evolving roles of mission-critical applications: Mission-critical networks will be used for services where the risks of failure are too significant. These include autonomous driving, tactile internet, and more. These networks will have features such as complete coverage, ultra-low latency, and tight security.

The Benefits

Here is the list of the primary and derivative benefits of 5G slicing for Communications Service Providers [CSPs].

Tailored functionality

According to 5G Americas, Global 5G Connections reach USD 429 million in Q2 2021: up 41% from Q1. A direct benefit of 5G network slicing for CSPs will be deploying selective functions as required to support different customers and target demographics.

Network slicing allows for the sharing of various functional components and resources across the network slices. However, specific features such as data speed, capacity, connectivity, quality, latency, reliability, and services can be customized in each slice to conform to a particular Service Level Agreement (SLA). It will ensure CSPs provide differentiated services at scale.

Higher Savings

According to a report from GSMA, almost 300 billion USD of revenues will be associated with 5G Network Slicing by 2025. As of now, CSPs offer complete functionality across the spectrum to different market segments. With different customers using only the specific functionalities they require, network slicing allows CSPs to deploy what they need.  It will be more beneficial than offering all customers complete network functionalities, and it will correspondingly lead to higher savings against CSPs deploying full functionality.

New Revenue Opportunities

According to a survey published by Amdocs in 2020 with 50 mobile operators across the globe, over 52 % believe Network Slice as a Service (NSaaS) will be the leading approach to network slice-based 5G monetization, while almost 30 % of mobile operators expect to charge for specific QoS parameters.

By allocating specific resources to each slice, CSPs can ensure the necessary speed, throughput, and latency are used to cover the range of network slicing in 5G.  Additionally, network slicing as a service minimizes operating expenses and capital expenditures. It can pave the way for significant federal entities, such as first responders and medical emergency teams, to be prioritized based on coverage, capacity, and connectivity.

Scale-up

5G network slicing is highly complex. In addition to the complexity, automation is required with CSPs designing and maintaining several thousand network slices. Manually managing such high volumes of slices at the speeds needed by customers will be next to impossible.

Implementing dynamic zero-touch slice lifecycle management at scale and real-time will be imperative as traffic load, service requirements, and network resources evolve. It will open many new revenue opportunities for CSPs. 5G network slicing will allow CSPs to incorporate cloud-native applications into their networks.

It will bypass vendor lock-in and lead to lower-cost of development, enhanced modification and upgrade abilities, and heightened vertical or horizontal scalability. Adopting cloud-native slicing applications will enable CSPs to evolve 5G standards.

Faster Time-to-market

With the ability to deploy selective functionalities based on the requirement, the market time is drastically reduced. With fewer functionalities required, 5G network slicing will enable faster time-to-market. Network slicing is an essential component of 5G. However, the reverse is not valid. Unlike other fundamental elements of 5G, it can be deployed on existing 4G networks. Therefore, the advantages of network slicing can be achieved in the short term while preparing for the expected shift.

Extensive Use Cases

A single network can be split to cover assorted use cases based on customer needs and segmentation. The characteristics of 5G are a definite upgrade over 4G in terms of power, bandwidth, and speed. With an estimated 1.2 billion 5G connections by 2025, this accounts for 40 percent of the global population, nearly 2.7 billion people.

Based on the current digital landscape, 5G network slicing will be critical for CSPs in meeting the technical requirements of 5G. The features and use cases ranging from automotive to broadcasting are creating new revenue opportunities for CSPs. 5G network slicing makes it possible to create a network capable of adapting to the diverse needs of various industries and the economy.

Efficient testing

5G network slicing with AI-powered orchestration offers a reliable and efficient option for testing and deploying new services. The network divided eliminates the need to execute changes that disrupt existing services to evaluate the latest ones.  It means lesser functions need to be deployed with every new slice. Network slicing enables each slice to have its structure, supervision, and security to support specific use cases.

The Road Ahead

The major vendors in the network slicing market include Ericsson (Sweden), Huawei (China), Nokia (Finland), Intel (US), Cisco (US), ZTE (China), SK Telecom (South Korea), Deutsche Telekom (Germany), Telefónica (Spain), Samsung Electronics (South Korea), NTT DOCOMO (Japan). Whether a car communicates with a truck, an oven with the supermarket, network slicing allows a 5G network to be optimized and deployed based on the use case. It promises a streamlined process allowing customers access to the proper slice in the network of networks.

STL 5G Solutions

With better connectivity, higher speeds, improved services, and deliveries, and enhanced operational efficiency, 5G is here to transform the day-to-day business functions of CSPs. With deep-rooted specialization, international presence, and an agile ecosystem, STL is capable of designing and delivering end-to-end 5G solutions.

With expertise in Open RAN standards-based software integration, we have forged a novel collaboration with Saankhya Labs, VVDN, and the associated Open RAN ecosystem for their particular subject-matter expertise and experience. These solutions will facilitate CSPs worldwide to address differing deployment applications with ease of use, high rapidity, and improved ROI.

Our fully 5G-ready digital network solutions help telcos, cloud companies, citizen networks, and large enterprises deliver enhanced customer experiences. Do watch our webinar on how you can successfully monetize your 5G investments or please reach out to us in case of any queries. We are happy to help!

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