Circles.Life
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Circles.Life

5G-Slicing

Written by Neeraj Rana

Network Slicing or “portion” is a logic that allows different networks like virtualized and independent to be created on top of a common physical infrastructure. Different customers may require ultra-reliable services whereas other business customers may need ultra-high-bandwidth communication or extremely low latency.

The 5G network needs to be designed to be able to offer a different mix of capabilities to meet all these diverse requirements at the same time. Each “slice” can be allocated based on specific needs of the application or needs of the customer or the Use cases. These diverse services can be supported by slicing and this can help to assign resources from one virtual network slice to another.

An operator can configure and manage the mobile network to support various types of services enabled by 5G like below shown for eMBB (Enhanced Mobile Broadband), mMTC (Massive machine Type Communication), uRLLC (Ultra-Reliable and Low Latency Communications).

How it works:

Network slicing is about transforming a PLMN from a single network to a network where logical partitions are created, with appropriate network isolation, resources, optimized topology, and specific configuration to serve various service requirements.

E.g. The different parts of an NSI(Network Slice Instance) are grouped as Network Slice Subnets (e.g. RAN, 5GC, and Transport) allowing the lifecycle of a Network Slice Subnet Instance (NSSI) to be managed independently from the lifecycle of an NSI.

Source of Image: Slicing

Network Slicing logical architecture

Before implementation with Slicing:

Source of Image: Structure

After Implementation with Slicing:

Source of Image: Structure

Opportunities

A single network can be divided to cover diverse use cases based on customer demand and segmentation. Operators can allocate resources to each slice, utilizing the necessary speed, throughput and latency to cover the breadth of network slicing in 5G. It can allow critical public entities, such as first responders & emergency teams, to be prioritized for coverage, capacity, and connectivity.

Challenges

Full E2E network slicing includes implementation in the radio access network (RAN), but these RAN’s will need to be redesigned to accommodate network slicing. Difficulty maintaining SLA, QoS, and security assurance for each slice and managing the spectrum slicing and allocation for highly dynamic scenarios, etc. for operators.

Security

Each slice will have unique security requirements with the use case it has been designed to provide and will require its vectors for validation. Much like the IoT, the scaling factor associated with network slicing introduces billions of potential new attack vectors. A successful attack from a central 5G network management point could infiltrate many slices and/or network domains simultaneously.

How will network slicing support 5G?

This provides opportunities for security-as-a-service (SECaaS) vendors. optimization of every part of a system. It will reduce costs, maximizing resources, granting a greater degree of freedom and flexibility to network operators. Operators can trial potential new 5G services easily, and bring them to market rapidly.

How long will it be before network slicing becomes a reality?

A lot of the NB-IoT services have been implemented via a software option onto the existing base station architecture, which is the beginning of the network slicing concept. It is still in a developing face where data is being analyzed globally to enhance use cases to provide more and more features to end-users.

About the Author:

Neeraj Rana is a connoisseur of Network & Communication at Circles.Life. He is highly skilled in the implementation and maintenance of Intelligence Network on a variety of network architectures.

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