Packet core

The core will exist in a cloud-based environment, enabling network slicing that can offer customized connectivity – and all slices can run on the same, shared infrastructure. This will provide a much more flexible solution than a single physical network, providing a maximum level of connectivity. The packet core network handles wireless access authentication and authorization, as well as network point of presence. Moving to 5G there will exist different migration paths, either based on Evolved Packet Core (EPC) or based on a newly defined core network architecture, 5G Core.

The EPC consists of the following functions including sub-functions:

  • Mobility Management Entity (MME)
  • PDN Gateway (PGW)
  • Serving Gateway (SGW)
  • User Plane (UP)
  • Policy & Charging Rules Functions (PCRF)
  • Home Subscriber Server (HSS)
EPC text_1

5G Core is built on a new architecture paradigm, Service Based architecture, with new reference points and services used between network functions in the control plane.

  • The 5G Core consists of the following network functions:
  • Application Function (AF)
  • Access & Mobility management Function (AMF)
  • Authentication Server Function (AUSF)
  • Network Exposure Function (NEF)
  • Network Repository Function (NRF)
  • Policy Control Function (PCF)
  • Session Management Function (SMF)
  • SMS Function (SMSF)
  • Unified Data Management (UDM)
  • User Plane Function (UPF)
Packet Core5G Core Service-Based Architecture

Packet core in action

The processes involved in an industry application require low-delay communication between the application controller and the devices in the system — which could be sensors or actuators. Deployment is local to minimize delay and the number of points of failure. To ensure high availability, all relevant resources can be duplicated using a hot standby or load-sharing scheme; deploying duplication locally limits the need for redundancy in the global part of the network. The network slice could include cloud resources to host the industry application, together with the necessary network functions in the operator data center.

From a management perspective, responsibilities are shared: the customer is responsible for the application, device and identity management in the system, and the operator looks after the physical infrastructure – such as data centers, transport, and nodes.

Packet core in action graphic

Flexibility in deployment

Network functions will no longer be located according to traditional vertical groupings in single network nodes but will instead be distributed to provide connectivity where it is needed. The design of the 4G/5G split architecture focuses on increased spectrum efficiency, full deployment flexibility, and elasticity. As such, processing is carried out where resources are available and needed. The network can be deployed either in classical, pre-integrated nodes, or in fully-virtualized environments – be it as virtual network functions, or together in various combinations.

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