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Cloud gaming: Enabled by 5G and end-to-end network slicing

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The future of cloud gaming is here – 5G end-to-end (E2E) network slicing is revolutionizing cloud gaming services. In a world first, a 5G network slice was optimized for cloud virtual reality game streaming by utilizing Ericsson’s networks, service orchestration and monetization tools. We explore how it works and how CSPs can get a slice of the action.

Sr.Director Product Management Ericsson Inc.

AR VR activity

Sr.Director Product Management Ericsson Inc.

Sr.Director Product Management Ericsson Inc.

Network slicing: An overview

E2E network slicing is a key enabler for unlocking 5G opportunities, driving business model innovation and new use cases across various industry segments. Ericsson’s extensive industry-leading projections and analysis estimate network slicing creates a USD 200 billion opportunity for communication service providers (CSPs).  90 percent of this revenue is expected to come from six major industry segments – healthcare, government, transportation, energy and utilities, manufacturing, media and entertainment.

Network slicing will play a crucial role in improving customer experience, quality of service, faster time to market, automation and delivering services at an optimized resource utilization. Deploying network slicing at scale requires a modern and automated Operations Support Systems (OSS) and Business Support Systems (BSS) to fully reap the E2E benefits. Data integrity, automation and operational simplicity are key. Network slicing enables CSPs to climb the value chain from connectivity providers to service enablers and service creators.

CSPs can leverage their current commercial and deployment readiness to immediately deploy slicing use cases, whilst continuing on their journey to uncover new network slicing business opportunities. Some of the use cases that could be deployed now include mission critical push-to-talk, mobile cloud gaming, remote broadcast and production, freight management and remote medical emergency assistant. As network slicing enables CSPs to move up the value chain, it has become important to jointly co-create use cases with partners from vertical industries, system integrators, application developers and hyperscalers. Ericsson has been actively working with global operators, enterprises, and other partners in business strategy, use case analysis and definition and co-creating use cases across many industry segments.


Network slicing for gaming

Recently, Ericsson collaborated with Deutsche Telekom (DT) and Samsung Electronics to demonstrate a E2E network slice for a gaming use case. Some of the key drivers for DT were to increase enterprise revenue potential, customer experience, secure & dedicated services with differentiated quality of service (QoS), automation and faster delivery of services.

In this demonstration, two network slices were created. One slice was built for mobile broadband user services (MBB slice) and another slice built for gaming users (a gaming slice) with specific characteristics, such as low latency and high throughput capabilities to provide an excellent experience for gamers. The device and gaming application used the gaming slice to provide better customer experience. This demonstration was implemented in an E2E network slicing setup deployed at Deutsche Telekom’s Bonn lab using commercial grade 5G standalone (SA) infrastructure from Ericsson. Integrated with Ericsson’s Business Support System (BSS), the setup included Ericsson’s E2E Slice Orchestration and Order Automation Solution for automated slice and user profile provisioning.

The setup demonstrated the benefits of network slicing in 5G, notably how it meets some of the key business drivers, such as customer experience, secure and dedicated services with differentiated QoS, and automation. Some of the key capabilities demonstrated were: 

  • Verification of stable latency and guaranteed throughput in a congested network 
  • The automated creation of different slices with infrastructure resource isolation 
  • Business Support System (BSS) integration for automated slice and user profile provisioning through E2E slice orchestration

The process of creating a zero-touch automated slice creation from order capture to a fully operating slice is as follows: Customer order management (COM) sends a network slice order request to service order management (SOM) via service ordering management REST API (TMF 641 API). The SOM captures customer intent received from COM and together with the catalog manager maps out the correct product offering needed and builds the slice technical specifications that are sent to the service orchestrator. The service orchestrator deploys an end-to-end slice across the RAN, transport and core domains. The service orchestrator leverages Tosca modeling to create slice blueprint and harnesses Ericsson Adaptive Inventory to perform pre-qualification and workload placement decisions. 

E2E Network Slicing architecture

Figure - 1: E2E Network Slicing architecture

The service orchestrator interacts with domain orchestrators such as Ericsson Network Manager to perform RAN related slicing configurations such as RAN QoS flow. It delegates the 5G core deployment and configuration of the slice to NFVO (NFV Orchestration) and E-VNFM (evolved VNF Management), which deploys AMF (Access and Mobility Management Function), SMF (Session Management Function) and UPF (User Plane Management Function) CNFs (Cloud Native Network Functions) dedicated to the specific slice. It also performs other configurations across the network, such as slice profile registration in UDM (User Data Management). Upon successful creation of slice, the topology gets automatically ingested into Ericsson services assurance systems (CENX) with predefined assurance policies.  A network slice is active now and its resources are continuously monitored by the service assurance system. Subscribers onboarded on to the new slice can enjoy differentiated service offering.

Overall, I believe network slicing will create tremendous new business models and revenue opportunities for CSPs. It will create new ecosystems where multiple partners can come together to collaborate and co-create to build new and innovative use cases. To realize the full potential of network slicing, automation must be driven by modern integrated BSS-OSS systems. Service providers should not “wait for all pieces to come together” – rather, as part of their evolutionary journey, they should start to test and commercialize some of the near-term network slicing use cases while continuing to scale towards developing new businesses.


Learn more

To help you on your journey Ericsson has created a toolkit and many resources on network slicing.

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