A Heavy Reading white paper produced for Affirmed Networks
Strategic Importance of Network Slicing
The ability to support diverse services, each with specific performance requirements, on a common network platform is a powerful idea, with compelling commercial opportunities. Network slicing is fundamental to this vision because it enables operators to configure virtual network instances, optimized to the specific functional requirements of a customer or application, more quickly and at lower cost than building traditional dedicated networks.
This white paper discusses why network slicing is important, how operators can use virtualization to support different industrial sectors, why this capability should be introduced in today's networks, and how it will contribute to commercial success in 5G. The paper focuses on using Access Point Names (APNs) and virtualized Evolved Packet Core (vEPC) to serve different user groups in 4G networks and looks ahead to the migration to end-to-end network slicing in 5G. It argues that virtual core networks and slicing capabilities are critical for operators seeking to scale business activities across different industry verticals and diversify their revenue base.
Network Slicing & Operator Business Models
A useful way to describe a network slice, an adapted version of the Next Generation Mobile Network Initiative (NGMN) definition, is as follows: "A set of network functions instantiated to form a complete logical network that meet the performance requirements of a service type(s)." A network slice is typically made up of sub-network instances to create an end-to-end service. In a mobile network, this can include radio access network (RAN), core and service platforms.
Slices can be fine-grained, at the individual user or service level (for example, a video streaming slice), or can be more coarse-grained, at a company or industry level (for example, an automotive slice, a utilities slice, etc.). The concept is outlined in Figure 1. In practice, we expect to see coarser-grained slices come to market first, with increasing granularity over time. Network slice templates can be used to replicate service slice types across different customers. Devices may connect to one, or more than one, slice at a time. Ultimately, 5G network slices can be thought of as the network adapting itself, in software, to the needs of the application. Read More...