Anything you want to know about 5G Core networks?
The core network performs many of the fundamental operations in a mobile network. With the introduction of 5G, traditional core network architecture design is being disrupted. Do you think you need a better grasp of the relevant concepts involved in this evolution?
Ericsson is heavily involved in the technical specifications of 5G networks. To learn more, I caught up with Lars Frid, Director of Strategic Product Management of 5G Core Networks at Ericsson. Lars is also co-author of the recently published book “5G Core Networks, Powering Digitalization”, together with a team of Ericsson experts.
Why is 5G Core important?
Because the core network performs many of the absolutely fundamental operations in a mobile network. This is where subscriptions are authenticated and users are authorized to access their services. The core network handles a wide area of mobility and makes sure the IP connectivity is maintained at all times. The core network also contains functionality to handle devices in idle mode, to broadcast emergency messages and to manage the geographical position of devices. APIs are provided to open up operator-controlled functionality towards business partners, and policies are used to control advanced aspects of user services, including how they’re charged. The core network is designed as a combination of network elements that have different roles, and that are interconnected via standardized interfaces and protocols.
With the introduction of 5G, core network architecture and how it’s designed is being disrupted. The purpose is to allow for shorter time-to-market of new functionality through utilizing concepts similar to what is used in typical IT systems. Designing the 5G Core network software for deployment on cloud systems is the obvious choice, and at Ericsson we are aiming to realize the full potential of using cloud native software technologies, targeting excellent modularity, scalability, portability and a high degree of automation support.
Why do we need a book on 5G Core?
The co-authors, Magnus Olsson, Shabnam Sultana, Peter Hedman, Stefan Rommer, Catherine Mulligan and I think there’s a real need for education on the latest core network concepts. The disruption around 5G core network architecture and how it’s being defined makes it even more relevant to write a book on the subject.
The technical work on 5G networks is done by a group of specialists and experts from across the industry – from network operators, from governmental agencies and from telecom infrastructure vendors like Ericsson. The outcome of this work is a large set of technical specifications which define the technical content of all the mobile networks across the world, as well as all mobile and wireless devices, ranging from smartphones to sensors. It’s a fantastic achievement, and it goes on every day. However, the other side of the coin is that this huge set of specifications is not very accessible to a person who wants to learn about the technology.
From our experience with writing books on 4G, we concluded that addressing the relevant key technologies in a structured way in a book is a good way to explain all the necessary concepts. It’s also a good format to use for educating people, both within Ericsson and our operator customers, for example. Once someone has read the book, they’ll be capable enough to dive into the extensive set of detailed specifications that makes up 5G.
Why are we focusing on the core network specifically? We see a clear need to explain these parts of the network. There are always a couple of books covering the radio networks, but fewer on the core network. And as I mentioned before, the core network is a key part of a mobile network.
Could this book be a gift for my teenage children?
Haha, maybe if they’re REALLY interested in the technology that resides inside mobile networks, but to be honest, very few teenagers have the necessary background knowledge to have much use of this book. It’s targeted towards engineers with at least some knowledge in telecom and IP networks. So, sorry to disappoint you a little there.
But actually, the core network is very relevant to teenagers even though most of them probably don’t know it. The core network provides services and functionality that allow anyone to use a smartphone and surf the web, use YouTube or social media applications. I would guess teenagers are well above average users of such applications, both in terms of skill and the amount of data they consume and produce, which is all managed by the core network.
When can we expect the next book about 6G?
Well, it will take some time before that happens. Work has actually started on 6G, but it’s still very much in the research phase and will take some years before concrete decisions are made on 6G’s technical requirements, technologies and use cases. It’s also important that 6G becomes a technology that addresses real needs and adds commercial value to a large range of use cases. This takes time, so at the moment the main industry attention must be on 5G, and specifically how 5G creates value for consumers, enterprises and administrations.
The 2019 edition of “5G Core Networks: Powering Digitalization” is out now:
The book can be ordered from Amazon here
or directly from the publisher Elsevier using this link
If not ready for the book yet, listen to the podcast Episode 20 with Lars Frid and get behind the scenes in the 2G to 5G rollouts.