All You Need to Know About Network Slicing
Network slicing will enable the development of new business models in the mobile market. For instance, existing cloud and data centre providers, such as Amazon and Google, may find a new way to play on a mobile network through network slicing. This would also enable traditional mobile operators to lease network slices and focus mainly on their key strengths, including the provision of high-quality networking experience
What is Network Slicing?
Network slicing is nothing but the separation of multiple virtual networks. With the help of network slicing, you can create these networks on top of a commonly shared physical infrastructure.
These networks operate using the same principles used in network functions virtualization (NFV) and software defined networking (SDN) in fixed networks. With the help of NFV and SDN, you can achieve better network flexibility as they divide the traditional network architecture into virtual slices.
Each of these virtual slices is allowed to have its own logical topology, performance characteristics as well as security rules, etc. – within the limits imposed by the physical networks.
How Can We Relate Network Slicing to 5G?
While considering 5G, one physical network will be sliced into numerous virtual networks that are able to support various radio access networks (RANs), or distinct service types that run across a single RAN. It is anticipated that network slicing will firstly be used to divide the core network. However, it may also be implemented in the RANs.
Which are the Use Cases of Network Slicing?
With its myriad use cases, network slicing is one of 5G’s most important technologies. From a linked vehicle to a voice call, which requires distinct latency, throughput, and reliability, it will support new services with vastly different requirements.
The use cases that have been identified for network slicing and 5G fall under three main categories:
Extreme Mobile Broadband (eMBB): These apps are highly video-centric and consume a lot of bandwidth and will generate the maximum mobile network traffic.
Massive Machine-Type Communications (mMTC): This is more widely known as the Internet of Things, but on a broader scale, with the network connecting billions of devices. These devices will generate far less traffic than extreme mobile broadband applications, but they will be much larger in magnitude.
Ultra-reliable Low-Latency Communications (urLLC): These will enable things such as remote surgery or communications from vehicle-to-X (v2x) and require MNOs to have mobile edge computing capacity in place.
How does Network Slicing Work?
Each network slice comprises of an independent set of logical network functions which support the requirements of a particular use case.
Each slice will be optimized in order to provide the resources and network topology to the distinct service and traffic that will use the slice. To meet the specific demands of every use case, definite functions like speed, capacity, connectivity, and coverage will be allocated across different network slices. In addition to this, function components can also be shared amongst them.
Each of these slices will be confined to make sure that no slice interferes with the traffic in another slice. By doing this, the risk of introducing and running new services is minimized. Besides this, it also supports migration as new technologies or architectures can be launched on the confined slices.
One of the prime advantages of network slicing is that it ensures security. If one slice is breached in a cyber-attack, the attack is curbed and is stopped from spreading beyond that slice. Each slice will be configured in its individual network architecture, network provisioning and engineering mechanisms. It will mostly have management capabilities that will be controlled by the customer or the network operator, according to the use case. Each slice will be separately managed and organized. The user experience of the network slice will be similar to that of a physically distinct network.
What will Network Slicing do?
Network slicing is anticipated to play a crucial role in 5G networks keeping in mind the number of use cases and new services 5G would support. These new use cases and services will place different functionality requirements on the network, and their performance demands will vary enormously.
For instance, an autonomous car relies on V2X interaction, which requires low latency but not necessarily high output. The streaming service being monitored while the car is in motion, will require a high output and is prone to delay. To optimize the use of the physical network, both would be capable of being delivered on virtual network slices over the same common physical network.
The flexibility of 5G networks will be maximized with the help of network slicing, as it will optimize the use of infrastructure as well as the allocation of resources. Compared to the previous mobile networks, it will ensure greater energy and cost effectiveness.
Undoubtedly, network slicing will allow newly developed products and services to be quickly launched into the market. Moreover, they can be easily adapted as demand changes and continues to develop, resulting in increased operator revenue and more end-user services.
A joint study conducted by BT and Ericsson that was published in September 2017 found that using operational automation and network slicing, the introduction of new IoT services generated 35 percent more revenue over five years than a single multi-service network. It also resulted in a reduction of operating expenses (OPEX) of 40 percent and an increase in the overall economic benefit of 150 percent.
How has the COVID-19 Pandemic Affected the Network Slicing Industry?
The global network slicing market is expected to witness a huge rise in the growth rate during the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, due to increasing demands for broadband services with the help of growing remote access services and mobile networking in many industries such as telecom, retail, IT and healthcare etc. According to a report by Research Dive, the global network slicing market is predicted to hit $1,456.6 million by 2027. Moreover, deployment of wireless networking services in the year 2020 and 2021 will positively impact the network slicing market.
Which are the Industrial Regions with Strong Potential for Network Slicing Applications?
Industry Regions with strong potential for network slicing applications are as follows –
Media and Entertainment
Health and Wellness
GSMA Intelligence estimates that by 2025 there will be 1.2 billion 5G connections, accounting for 40% of the global population, and about 2.7 billion people. It assumes that the upcoming 5G network architecture is “a real opportunity that can create an agile network which can easily adapt to the different requirements of definite industries and the economy.” And a key enabler of this 5G reality will be network slicing.
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