Mobile wireless technologies have gone through systematic generational refreshes over the last three decades. The next such refresh, called 5G, isn’t just an incremental upgrade from 4G, but represents a significant leap forward. 5G promises to improve efficiency, enhance security, reduce latency times, increase network capacity, and accelerate current data connections by 10, or even 100 times. And for the first time, 5G brings wireline technologies into greater prominence and convergence with wireless infrastructure, enabling telecom carriers to extract efficiency from their full network.
However, before the benefits of 5G can be widely exploited, Communications Service Providers need to invest in virtualized and cloud-based infrastructure. 5G requires both a software-driven architecture and Network Functions Virtualization, or NFV, to be successful.
At VMware, we see 5G as a big opportunity and challenge for Communications Service Providers to leverage the benefits of 5G with new business models and to reassert their influence in the cloud economy. While NFV is the foundation to deliver 5G, CSPs are going to require a telecom transformation that represents a new approach to delivering agile services and enables the ability to have these services move between clouds, include private, edge, and public clouds.
A key aspect of 5G networks is network slicing. For CSPs, network slicing provides the ability to divide and scale the network on an as-a-service and ‘on-demand’ basis. This requires an advanced, software-defined infrastructure that allows multiple virtual networks to be created atop a shared physical infrastructure. Virtual networks can then be customized to meet the needs of applications, services, devices, customers or other global CSPs.
For CSPs, network slicing enables new business opportunities. Services such as remote health and surgery, smart metering, smart drones, and connected cars all require connectivity, but with vastly different network characteristics. New technologies, such as virtualization, network programmability, and network slicing will enable networks to be customized and meet the needs for each application. As a result, new products and services can be introduced to market quickly and can be easily customized, deployed, and adapted to fast-changing demands.
VMware and Telia have jointly collaborated on a 5G Technical Whitepaper: 5G-Ready NFV Infrastructure- A Transformation Journey Towards Full Automation. In this paper, we have outlined the characterization of the network driven by 5G and the requirements that CSPs should take into consideration to support new services and SLAs. In addition, the paper highlights the requirement to provide an efficient network infrastructure that can deliver services at the best price point, along with creating an on-demand network to support new business consumption models and a frequent service rollout cadence.
We believe 5G to deliver massive changes as it will create a larger, more efficient network that offers new possibilities for developers and CSPs. The collaborative nature of 5G may also prompt more partnering across the ecosystem and alter the competitive landscape of the industry. Hybrid environments that leverage the best of both worlds, coupling hyper scale public cloud infrastructures like those from Amazon Web Services, or IBM, and the NFV enhanced clouds from CSPs, could become the basis for new marketplaces for consumer and enterprise applications and tools.