Article By : Fibocom
5G network slicing is the key technology that will enable the operators and engineers to provide services and applications to users according to their requested requirements.
5G development and deployment are accelerating, especially in Asia. Field trials are underway, components are coming, and testing covers the spectrum in more ways than one. What are the challenges and how is the ecosystem shaping up? Find out more in this month’s In Focus series.
The emergence of 5G networks is based on the vision of providing very high data rates, wider coverage area, enhanced throughput, delay-less services, and significantly better Quality-of-Services (QoS). It is not just an upper version of 4G systems but is much more beyond that in terms of technological capabilities and service provision. Current wireless network systems have become insufficient to manage user requirements, which are tremendously increasing on daily basis, due to their limited resources. 5G wireless network is expected to accommodate several times larger customers and their increasing data traffic efficiently. Some of the characteristics of 5G are:
- 1-10Gbps connection, which is almost 10 times higher than the traditional LTE network’s theoretical peak data rate of 150 Mbps
- 10-100x devices interconnected all the time via the Internet.
- Availability of 99.999%
- Round trip latency of 1ms, which is a reduction of almost 10 times from 4G’s round trip latency of 10ms.
- 90% reduced power consumption of network, and 10 years long battery life for low power consumption devices.
- ‘Anytime Anywhere’ connectivity coverage of almost 100%
- Reduction in energy consumption by 90%.
Moreover, some crucial new techniques will also become part of 5G networks such as New Radio on Unlicensed band (NR-U), NR Vehicle-to-X (V2X), software-defined network (SDN), Network Function Virtualization (NFV), with new features including diversified terminals, large number of nodes, ultra-high density node deployment, the coexistence of multiple wireless technologies and security schemes, and Network Slicing.
What is 5G Network Splicing
The idea of network slicing is a significant part of 5G networks. 5G provides the connection of multiple devices to communicate with each other over the Internet, allowing it to support IoT. The main technology behind 5G, which is allowing it to support multiple and diverse devices and services simultaneously is the network slicing technology.
Network slicing originates from the concept of network virtualization techniques to deploy multiple logical/virtual systems that run on top of a single shared physical network architecture. The main objective behind using network slicing is to divide the physical network resources to optimally group different traffic and configure the network resources at a macro level. There is a separation between each slice in terms of case/field with specific necessary operations. The network slicing divides a single common physical network into various virtual end-to-end (E2E) networks.
While performing the division, the target is to customize and optimize each network with respect to resources, QoS, and security.
Figure 1: Advantages of network slicing.
Network Slicing Services
Three types of services are available and standardized by the 3rd generation partnership Project (3GPP). These services are the defining characteristics of 5G and can coexist within the same network architecture by using network slicing:
1. eMBB (Enhanced Mobile Broadband)
Enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) is a critical aspect of the 5G network, giving it a completely new direction in terms of applications and services. eMBB applications are very video-centric and consume a lot of bandwidth and will generate the most traffic on the mobile network, like 8K streaming, AR, VR, and cloud-based gaming.
eMBB provides stable connections with very high peak data rates as well as moderate data rates for edge users. eMBB consists of large payloads and device activation pattern that remains stable for a longer time. This allows the network to allocate different wireless resources to each eMBB device. eMBB guarantees moderate reliability with packet error rate (PER) of order 10-3.
2. uRLLC (Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communications)
Ultra-reliable low latency communication (uRLLC) is a technology that supports low-latency transmissions of small data payloads with high reliability from limited terminals that are active according to a particular pattern defined by an outside event, such as alarm. uRLLC applications require a lightning-fast response time for mission-critical applications like industrial automation, telepresence, teleoperation, telerobotic, autonomous vehicles, UAVs, drone operations, public safety, and smart buildings. The main objective of URLLC is to achieve a high-reliability level with PER lower than 10-5.
3. mMTC (Massive Machine Type Communications)
Massive machine type communication (mMTC) supports a large number of Internet-of-things (IoT) devices that get active periodically and send small data packets using a low transmission rate in the uplink. Typically, innumerable mMTC devices are connected to a base station, but at a given time, only a particular random number of devices are active to send data, which is also denoted as a random variable that measures the mMTC arrival rate. The main objective of mMTC is to maximize the arrival rate with a given radio resource. It has a PER of order 10-1.
These three services are allocated orthogonal or non-orthogonal radio resources by slicing the radio access network (RAN). Network slicing guarantees complete isolation and enhanced performance levels of each service by allocating network computing, storage, and communication resources among them.
Figure 2: Dynamic and secure network slices empower vertical industries.
The Current Market and Industry Analysis
The current markets and industries based on 4G network technology are reaching technical limits of how much data it can quickly deliver over the given frequency spectrum. The evolution of the 5G network promises to eliminate this bandwidth congestion issue, which is the main limitation of 4G networks.
4G networks have now become insufficient to meet the demands of modern industries which require high speed, high capacity, low latency, low interference, longer battery life, and better efficiency. Moreover, the conventional market and industry infrastructure lack IoT technology and smart applications which can improve the industry production rate and revenues, and reduce human effort.
According to the recent report1, it is expected that 5G will generate $12.3 trillion of global economic output in 2035. Not only this but, the study of an International Data Corporation (IDC) reports that the amount of data created, captured, processed, and replicated all across the world will increase from 33 Zettabytes (ZB) in 2018 to 175 ZB by 2025.
Following are the challenges faced due to the current communication networks:
1. Multimedia Limitation
The current multimedia applications face several limitations due to the lack of resources, such as bandwidth, provided by existing 4G networks. Some of these limitations include:
- Poor Virtual Reality Experience
- Very High Latency
- Hardware Barriers for Advanced Gaming Experience
- Delay in Live Streaming of Sports Due to Low Bandwidth
- Inability To Monitor and Deliver High-Resolution Video
- Lack of Diversified and Isolated Network
The deployment of vertical industries requires flexible, orchestrated, and isolated network architecture with optimal capabilities to ensure high reliability and ultra-low latency. The existing 4G networks cannot fulfil these latency requirements, especially in smart grids. Moreover, it does not provide an isolated network as the applications and services of 4G run on the same network which may interfere with each other, resulting in service degradation. Furthermore, it lacks diversification as it offers the same network functions for all services.
2. Security Challenge
Security of data is a fundamental requirement of the network where each application requires E2E security protection. The security algorithms and encryption techniques provided by the current communication network are insufficient to secure the user data and protect it against malicious attacks and eavesdroppers.
Benefits of Using 5G and Network Slicing
Network slicing offers low latency which is very significant for both media and entertainment purposes such as gaming, live streaming, smooth virtual reality experience, etc. as well as for healthcare departments to enable remote medical services, diagnostics and surgery, and for military operations.
- Offers Diversified and Isolated Network Services
5G network slicing technique resolves the issues of providing a diversified and isolated network as it divides the network resources and allows 5G services to run on different slices to avoid interference and improve resource utilization.
Network slicing ensures a flexible security architecture to provide multilevel slice security assurance. When users of vertical industries need specific security requirements, they request customized network slicing with various levels of security protection from carriers. Different security capabilities provided by network slicing include security management, network protocol security, and device resource security.
5G Network Slicing Empowering Vertical Industries
5G network slicing is a multi-system support technique that has the ability to support vertical industries with its efficient slicing and resource allocation techniques. The industry customers can order network slices from operators and provide network requirements like slice type, capacity, performance, and coverage. Operators then create network slices according to their requirements. Industry customers…
Read More:5G Network Slicing: Empowering Vertical Industries – EE Times Asia