Network slicing is seen as a key enabler for future 5G networks
5G boils down to three primary use cases: enhanced mobile broadband, massive support for the internet of things and mission critical communications that require ultra-low-latency and multi-gigabit-per-second throughput. But, beneath those three broad use cases, there are many different applications that run the gamut from smart metering to enterprise communications and autonomous vehicles and remote control of industrial equipment. In this context, operators have identified network slicing as a way to provide requirement-specific data pipes, created on demand, that span the radio access network, the core network and the end user of a particular application. By creating bespoke slices, operators can allocate an optimal amount of spectral and network resources thereby maximizing network efficiency and reducing costs.
And while the 5G New Radio standard as yet to be finalized by the 3GPP, just like with radio and core equipment, vendors are prepping for the standard by releasing technological components meant to be deployed on existing 4G networks while setting the stage for the coming transition to 5G.
To that end, Mavenir has announced a virtualized network slicing software solution dubbed CloudRange Network Slice Suite. The idea is virtual provisioning of a network within a network based on “criteria that are required for practical deployments such as subscriber data/intelligence in the network, MVNO network setup, and network upgrade with virtualized multi-vendor deployments.”
Mavenir President and CEO Pardeep Kohli said operators don’t have to wait for 5G to use network slicing to “reduce costs of existing traffic. We have built a slicing orchestrator function that works across the radio, the core and applications. Until now, it’s just been applications and core running through NFV but we are implementing a similar approach with Mavenir’s Cloud RAN which includes radio slicing. We are essentially redefining the mobile network economics today and providing a runway for migration to 5G.”
According to the company, the new solution includes slicing selection function (SSF) for radio, NAS network selection function (NNSF) for the packet core and mobility management entities selection and core gateway network selection (CGNS) for the core and user plane. The company said CloudRange is based on a cloud native, web-scale architecture.
Back to the point of using automation to cut costs, Michael Howard, executive director, research and analysis, carrier networks, for IHS Markit said the new solution “changes the cost equation for most operators and makes it easier for them to deploy 4G and 5G networks.”