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5G Network Slicing and Virtual Networking

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[5G Network Slicing, International Telecommunication Union (ITU)]


Network Slicing, a Key Technology for 5G



5G Network Slicing: Building Next-Generation Wireless Networks


5G network slicing is a network architecture that enables the multiplexing of virtualized and independent logical networks on the same physical network infrastructure. Each network slice is an isolated end-to-end network tailored to fulfil diverse requirements requested by a particular application.

Designing a network that can simultaneously support both a wide variety of use cases and demanding performance requirements, with a single set of standard network functions, is simply impractical to implement. The key benefit of network slicing technology is it enables operators to provide networks on an as-a-service basis, which enhances operational efficiency while reducing time-to-market for new services. 

The new era of 5G connectivity will be characterized by its wide diversity of use cases and their varied requirements in terms of power, bandwidth, and speed. The greater elasticity brought about by network slicing will help to address the cost, efficiency, and flexibility requirements imposed by future. In addition, the benefits of slicing for specific verticals are quickly emerging. For example, ultra- reliable low latency communications (URLLC) is focused on providing support for critical infrastructure and applications such as connected transportation and real-time processes such as in manufacturing. IoT has numerous verticals and each of those verticals have varied network requirements. Slicing provides the ability to support these vertical use cases by creating a tailored virtual slice of the network from end to end. 

Network slicing may determine the success or failure of 5G Wireless. The issue of network slicing deals with two critical, unresolved questions: First, how will telecommunications service providers (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile/Sprint, etc.) adopting 5G Wireless choose to compete against cloud service providers (Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, IBM Cloud) for applications and data. Second, how will they re-architect their networks to give enterprise customers control over their assets, while at the same time maintaining the security and integrity of their infrastructure.Even now, as 5G-branded services are being rolled out to major US metropolitan areas, these seemingly fundamental architectural issues remain up in the air.


Virtual Networking Architecture

As 5G emerges, it will converge with other evolving technology and network architecture concepts, such as software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), cloud and edge computing and changes in base station design. Network slicing is a type of virtual networking architecture in the same family as SDN and NFV - two closely related network virtualization technologies that are moving modern networks toward software-based automation. SDN and NFV allow far better network flexibility through the partitioning of network architectures into virtual elements. In essence, network slicing allows the creation of multiple virtual networks atop a shared physical infrastructure.  

SDN and NFV are hot topics. NFV allows for virtualization of network resources, and SDN separates control plane functions from data plane functions to enable more centralized, flexible and programmable management of networks.


[More to come ...]

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