Preparing for the next step in the 5G journey
“To date, operators have quite rightly been focused on deploying the Radio Access technologies, with different operators at varying stages of this journey, employing their own unique strategies. In general, the transport network has basically been using the existing 4G backhaul networks in non-standalone mode and even in the minority of cases where they are starting to look at standalone backhaul the focus is entirely on building ‘big’ capacity pipes.
“The next stage in the journey will be upgrading the 5G mobile core, with an ultimate destination of a renewed focus on the transport that connects the radio to the core. As soon as the mobile core and the radio become distributed, operators need to develop a transport network that is dynamic and flexible enough to meet shifting demand, to easily instantiate and de-instantiate services.
“Current transport networks weren’t built to enforce SLAs or guarantee performance of the vast array of services which will be carried over them, so this is another factor to take into consideration. And let’s not forget that the new 5G timing mechanisms are not supported by the current transport networks. In all, the transport needs to be upgraded to support the various classes of services, and in order to do so efficiently and cost effectively, network slicing is required.”
Making a return on 5G investment
“The transition to standalone is a key step to enabling new use cases, but, standalone itself does not enable these use cases. As mentioned previously, the initial focus is around providing capacity and then connectivity to 5G new radio to enable the eMBB type services and the Fixed Wireless Access that this enables. Most operators now state that the eMBB use case needs to fly by itself, and in fact as some operators transition to 5G, others are forced to transition or be left behind and face a high-degree of user churn – so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
“However, it is the next step that standalone facilitates that provides access to new revenue streams. Standalone’s ability to provide deterministic transport for services, whether this be guaranteed latency and pdv OR assured capacity and reliability. With guarantees on latency, we see immersive, AR cloud-based mobile gaming and the high potential revenue associated with it becoming one of the first use cases.
“Additionally, the standalone network is more dynamic than the existing static MBH network used for 4G. This dynamism provides the dynamic capacity and connectivity required to support multi-access edge computing. With this dynamism and determinism operators can start to address new business and mission critical applications and services.
The introduction of network slicing
“A complete set of slicing technologies is required to cost efficiently support multiple different service types each with totally diverse policies and parameters. Network slicing opens up a wealth of consumer opportunities in the low latency video space. Real-time ultra-low latency video connections have potential in fields such as sports broadcasting, online gaming and e-sports, and even remote medical applications. Or for example real time video communication capabilities, where a consumer can quickly and easily set up a highly reliable, low latency connection for a variety of applications such as remote health, family or work conferencing.
“A revenue opportunity unique to 5G network slicing is the opportunity it presents to operators to offer differential tariffing, whereby businesses or consumers can pay to access extra bandwidth and capacity during periods of increased network demand.”
You can read the full article with David Stokes, senior portfolio marketing manager at ECI, exclusively in the June issue of CommsMEA.