The ever-changing technologies and business models in our evolution oriented world will require existing networks to be equipped with communication demands such as low latency, high density and high throughput.
With 5G rising rapidly, the mobile network services have been classified into three categories by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU): 1) Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), 2) Ultra-reliable and Low-latency Communications (uRLLC), and 3) Massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC).
eMBB, uRLLC and mMTC explained
The first category, eMBB, focuses on services that have high requirements for the bandwidth, such as streaming HD videos, Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). The second category, uRLLC, aims to meet the expectations for our high demanding industry and focuses on latency-sensitive services, such as self-driving cars and remote management. Finally, mMTC, focuses on services that include high requirements for connection density, such as Smart Cities and IoT.
The key to the evolution towards a 5G network: E2E Network Slicing
The 5G network will be designed for service-driven solutions that will be flexible and efficient to meet future mobile service requirements. With Software-Defined Networking (SDN) as an underlay and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) supporting the underlying physical infrastructure, 5G will be cloudifyingradio access and packet core elements. By moving and connecting your mobile infrastructure to the cloud, you can diversify your 5G services and enable on-demand deployment; automated capacity planning and E2E Network Slicing of the 5G network functions.
The key to the evolution to a 5G network is the E2E Network Slicing, which is mandatory for supporting diversified 5G services. The infrastructure of the future 5G network is based on SDN/NFV technology and consists of a three-layer datacenter architecture. In order for the different RAN (5G, LTE and Wi-Fi) functions to be managed in a flexible way in the three-layer datacenter, there is a need for respectively a strong computing capability, real time performance, specific dedicated hardware and sufficient storage.
Lower maintenance and installation costs for the operator’snetwork with network slicing
Taking a closer look to the three-layer datacenter where the bottom layer is defined as the central office datacenter and is closest in proximity to the access network. Secondly, the middle layer is viewed to be your local datacenter followed by the upper layer, also known as the regional datacenter. The latter connects all layers together through transport networks, such as MPLS for example.
The 5G network will generate a set of network topologies and network slices for each of the corresponding services using NFV in the datacenter infrastructure. The network slicing will make sure the exact resources in the joint network infrastructure are used for the service at hand. This results in a lower maintenance and installation cost of the operatorsnetwork. The network slices are separated as individual frameworks, which are heavily customizable and to be operated independently.
Network slicing requirements for eMBB, uRLLC and mMTC
As shown in the above illustration, eMBB slicing requires a high bandwidth to deploy caching in the mobile cloud engine of the local datacenter, which provides high-speed services in close distance to the users at a lower operating cost. uRLLC slicing has strict latency requirements when supporting self-driving cars and remote management. The RAN-Real-Time and RAN-Non-Real-Time functions are placed in the most beneficial location for the users. For RAN-RT this means close to the access network, while RAN-NRT is placed further down the datacenter.
Communication services that are used in self-driving entities, are handled by the mobile cloud engine (MCE) in the central office datacenter, delivering a very low latency. The control-plane functions lie further from the user in the local and regional datacenters.
The applications of the mMTC slicing are consuming small amounts of network data and this allows the mobile cloud engine (MCE) to be deployed in the local datacenter.Additional functions and applications can be installed in the regional datacenter, which releases central office resources and reduces operating expenses.
Different functions that will be used in 5G all have other demands, such as throughput, latency and the amount of connected devices. With network slicing, there is an optimal use of the existing hardware that will result in a lower OPEX and CAPEX.