The GSMA has issued a new report titled ‘An Introduction to Network Slicing’ that provides a comprehensive overview of how 5G network slicing can be used effectively by businesses, enterprises and consumers to benefit their business. 5G promises to usher in an era of incredibly fast and smart networks that will be more responsive and dependable than previous generations. It also represents an opportunity to create an agile network which adapts to the different needs of specific industries and the economy. GSMA Intelligence estimates that there will be 1.2 billion 5G connections by 2025, covering 40% of the global population or about 2.7 billion people. The document provides a number of different case studies across a wide range of different vertical industries including automotive, manufacturing and energy amongst others. It also covers policy and regulatory considerations as well as the potential impact on the changing business relationships between operators and vertical industries.
To access the report, please submit your details here.
As we enter the 5G era, connectivity will need to be adapted to the requirements of different businesses. Some organisations may require more bandwidth, higher security or faster response times and so 5G needs to be designed to cater to this different mix of requirements. This presents a challenge for operators who must build tailor-made networks that can be adapted to serve different business needs rather than the one-size-fits-all approach that has been used for previous mobile generations. The report outlines how a more efficient approach is to have multiple networks on a common platform. This in essence is what network slicing is all about: the idea that you are able to run multiple networks as virtually independent business operations on a common infrastructure. This will mean that business customers will have access to highly customised networks tailored to their very specific requirements in a cost effective, timely and efficient way. It will mean that business customers also have the potential to optimise their current services and create new offers that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible.
These customisable 5G networks will enable businesses to enjoy connectivity and data processing tailored to their specific requirements which would be agreed with an operator via a Service Level Agreement (SLA). The agreement could cover data speed, quality, latency, reliability, security and services. A network slice could also be deployed across multiple operators and use dedicated or shared resources such as processing power, storage or bandwidth. It is anticipated that network operators could deploy a single network slice type to cover the needs of different verticals, as well as multiple network slices of different types to cover businesses that have diverse requirements.
Network slicing will also change the way operators work and open up new types of utilisation models. Today it is difficult for operators to customise their networks to be able to host third party applications or to allow third parties to integrate network functionality for example. Network slicing will change this and mean that operators will have the capability of hosting applications as well as collect relevant data within a network slice to improve performance and efficiency. It will also mean that operators can offer customers the capability of managing their own services or slices by Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) which would give access to network-specific information. Some businesses may already have a communication or computation infrastructure in operation which could also be integrated into the network slice.
The report also highlights a number of different examples of how network slicing will work practically with an outline of different vertical requirements:
- Automotive slice: A modern “connected” vehicle requires an extremely versatile network that can deliver high throughput of in-car entertainment, ultra-reliability and low latency for autonomous driving, data gathering and analysis from telemetry sensors, device to device communication and possibly more. It will also require a continuity of service when moving between different operator networks.
- Industry automation: A factory may require a slice for industrial automation production, allowing robots in a production line to be controlled and monitored.
- Massive IoT: Operators can deploy slices for different IoT users making it easier to manage the network and for a faster deployment time. For example, traffic management could utilise a massive IoT network slice to monitor and manage traffic in real-time, then analyse and publish the data.
- AR/VR live broadcast: Sports events or music concerts could be broadcast live for users to enjoy through Augmented Reality (AR) or Virtual Reality (VR) technology. This would require a multimedia broadcast services function in the 5G network, high density computing to deal with AR/VR video processing and quality of service to guarantee a good user experience.
To access the report, please submit your details in the form below.
For further information on the GSMA Future Network programme, please go to: https://www.gsma.com/futurenetworks/