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Examine the Requirements for 5G Core Networks
  • May 31, 2019

The 5G core network is predicted to support millions of devices requiring high-speed connectivity and data processing. The 5G core is devised to be an evolution from the existing 4G infrastructure, as suppliers offer new micro-services based functionality, including network slicing and improved support for IoT devices. As they roll out new, high-speed fifth-generation services, the migration to a 5G native core is a key challenge for most mobile operators. The 5G core is likely to be an evolution from the existing 4G infrastructure, as suppliers offer new micro-services based functionality, including network slicing and improved support for IoT devices.

5G implementation is stupendous in its capabilities that include high-speed data, network slicing, IoT enablement and flexible deployment of new services. However, 5G deployments are still expected to take five to seven years to roll out in an evolutionary fashion. The initial implementations are likely to be deployed in large cities or for large-scale events, like the Olympics. The high-speed 5G services will require elaborate and expensive fiber build outs and three to four times the number of radio access networks (RANs) as compared to 4G.

The function of the wireless core: The wireless packet core unifies voice and data on an IP architecture, which facilitates control of full range of services for consumer and business customers of operators. It also authenticates devices and tracks their connections across the network. This provides centralized control for the RAN and interfaces to the operational and business support systems.

The 5G core network represents a complete refurbishing of the control and data plane functions. One of these functionalities is network slicing which will enable operators to virtually isolate specific customers, applications and device types and provide distinct levels of service and security. Software-defined networking controllers will provide centralized control functionality.

The 5G core network also includes newly designed micro-services running on container-based platforms to improve scale and flexibility with cloud-native architectures. These enable core network functions to be installed in any private or even public cloud location. Operators can use open APIs to capitalize on open software ecosystems and rapidly set up new applications.

Features: The most significant features of 5G networks include automation and network slicing. Discrete core functions include routing, service quality assurance, deep packet analysis and a range of security functions, among others. Core architecture provides for the separation of the control plane, the data plane and the subscription management functions.

Requirements for 5G core design: The major requirements for 5G core networks are high-speed data services and massive scale of devices connected to future 5G networks. 5G core network suppliers laud the scalability of their user and data planes to flexibly manage peak data capacity with millions of connections. For operators with existing 4G networks, smooth migration to 5G and the interoperability with existing 4G services is a critical factor in their decision to move to 5G considering it augments the existing services as well as profits.

5G core suppliers: Companies like Ericsson, Huawei, and Nokia, which are leading wireless suppliers, are also ahead in 5G core implementations. Other suppliers with core-specific wireless services include Affirmed Networks, Oracle, Cisco, and Mavenir. 5G core network software is designed to run on open network functions virtualization infrastructure hardware on x86 servers largely, with support for OpenStack and VMware NFV implementations.

Operators prioritize RAN and data processing enhancements: 5G implementations are still in very early stages with limited investments, however, its rollout is growing rapidly and a large market may soon be occupied by 5G services. To support higher data speeds, many operators are now focusing on 5G investments in the radio access and backhaul portions of their network. The migration mandates close interoperability between existing 4G and emerging 5G core networks as almost all providers will have both 4G and 5G networks running concurrently.