Network slicing is a powerful virtualization capability and one of the key capabilities that will enable flexibility, as it allows multiple logical networks to be created on top of a common shared physical infrastructure. The greater elasticity brought about by network slicing will help to address the cost, efficiency, and flexibility requirements imposed by future demands.
A digital transformation, fueled by the power of mobility, cloud and broadband, is taking place in almost every industry. New use cases are emerging for consumers, enterprises and industries. This opens for new business opportunities for both operators and industries, starting already in 4G/LTE networks.
In addition to the complex performance and business challenges, the 5G environment presents new challenges in terms of timing and agility. The time it takes to get new features into the network, and time to put services in to the hands of users need to be minimized, and so tools that enable fast feature introduction are a prerequisite. Above all, overcoming the challenges requires a dynamic 5G network.
Network slicing in reality with operators
Technologies like SDN and virtualization are enabling a drastic change to take place in network architecture, allowing traditional structures to be broken down into customizable elements that can be chained together programmatically to provide just the right level of connectivity, with each element running on the architecture of its choice. This is the concept of network slicing that will enable networks to be built in a way that maximizes flexibility.
Being able to deliver the wide variety of network performance characteristics that future services will demand is one of the primary technical challenges faced by service providers today. The performance requirements placed on the network will demand connectivity in terms of data rate, latency, QoS, security, availability, and many other parameters — all of which will vary from one service to the next. But future services also present a business challenge: average revenues will differ significantly from one service to the next, and so flexibility in balancing cost-optimized implementations with those that are performance-optimized will be crucial to profitability.
Turning NFV and network slicing into a business advantage
Network slicing enables new business opportunities. From thorough analysis, we have insights for operators on how to start an IoT business today and evolve it with 5G. Investments in digital industrialization have a potential to generate an estimated USD 619 billion in revenue opportunity for operators by 2026, according to our "5G Business Potential" report. This is more than an additional one-third revenue potential from 5G-enabled market opportunities versus the forecasted revenues from operators' current services.
Applications like remote operation of machinery, tele surgery and smart metering all require connectivity, but with vastly different characteristics. New technologies such as virtualization, network programmability and network slicing enable logical networks that are customized to meet the needs of each application. As a result, new products and services can be brought to market rapidly, and be easily adapted to fast-changing demands.
Network slicing provides customized connectivity that will benefit many industries by offering a smart way to segment the network to support particular services or business segments. Slices can be optimized by a myriad characteristics including latency or bandwidth requirements. Since the slices are isolated from each other in the control and user planes as well supported use case, the user experience of the network slice will be the same as if it was a physically separate network.
Provide what services are needed, while optimizing network resource utilization
Network slicing provides greater insight into network resource utilization, with each customized network slice, to match the level of delivery complexity required by the supported services. Resources for the network slices can be set up based on various service characteristics e.g. bandwidth demand, latency demand etc. Example use cases are:
Massive IoT. Provide connectivity for smart meters with a network slice that connects IoT devices with a high availability and high reliability data-only service, with a given latency, data rate and security level.
Augmented Reality. Provide a network slice with very high throughput, high data speeds and low latency for an Augmented Reality service.
Capacity or coverage on demand. Provide instant access to network capacity or coverage in the event of an emergency, for mission-critical services. The network slice can be prearranged through business agreements and provided on demand.
A key enabler of greater flexibility
Traditional core networks have a one-size-fits-all approach, providing the same service characteristics no matter what service, versus single network architecture approaches that carry services with a broad range of requirements and customized characteristics per service. Technologies like network slicing, software-defined networking (SDN) and virtualization are enabling networks to be built in a more scalable, flexible and dynamic way. Customizable elements can be chained together programmatically to provide just the right level of connectivity, with each element running on the architecture of its choice. This concept of network slicing enables core networks to be built to maximize flexibility to meet various service needs.
Network slicing powers flexibility by allowing multiple logical networks to be created on top of a common shared physical infrastructure. Each slice provides customized connectivity and all slices run on the same, shared infrastructure. The greater elasticity delivered by network slicing addresses the cost, efficiency and flexibility requirements imposed by current and future services.
All built on the Ericsson 5G core
Ericsson 5G is a common network platform enabling ICT transformation. It brings the agility, speed and efficiency needed by new services that support the Network Society and 50 billion connected devices.
Network slicing, NFV, SDN, Distributed Cloud, transport and as well Management, orchestration, analytics and exposure of network resources are part of Ericsson 5G core. It brings new levels of flexibility and optimization with the promise of enabling business innovation at an unprecedented scale. They enable programmable network assets that provide agile innovation so operators can quickly react to new challenges and quickly capture new business opportunities.