We know that 5G network architectures will need to be more agile and will incorporate a multi-radio access network (RAN) approach. We also know that the 5G network will likely rely heavily on leading-edge technologies like software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), and mobile edge computing.
Virtualization of the network is necessary to support network slicing, which is quickly becoming a key differentiator for 5G. Network slicing is what will make various use cases possible — from autonomous driving to remote healthcare to streaming video.
The appeal of network slicing is that an operator could carve out a piece of the network and dedicate it to whatever function it wants. Some of the network slices would be dynamically allocated, meaning the operator could tailor the network slices and make adjustments depending upon traffic and demand. Static slices, however, would be available for traffic that is consistent or for a certain use cases that doesn’t fluctuate.
But the initial 5G deployments will not make use of network slicing. Instead, most of the early deployments, which are likely to happen by late 2018, will use the non-standalone 5G New Radio (NR) standard that means 5G radios will ride on the existing LTE network core. The early 5G networks will primarily be different from 4G because they will offer faster speeds and lower latency.
The real 5G vision will likely happen when operators deploy standalone 5G. That’s when we will see additional capabilities made possible by NFV, SDN, and network slicing. And that’s also when we will begin to see the types of use cases made possible by 5G — like some of the advanced Internet of Things (IoT) applications that involve virtual reality and that support mission-critical tasks.
Staying on top of the ever-evolving 5G area is no small task. That’s why SDxCentral has created an eBook on 5G that includes six feature articles covering everything from the 5G deployment timeline, to the role 5G will play in IoT, to the advantages of network slicing.
I invite you to take a deep dive on 5G by downloading our ebook, “5G: Moving from Vision to Reality.”