Created virtual reality mock up in a fictional retail outlet
Vodafone and Ericsson have conducted what they claim is the UK’s first 5G standalone (SA) network slicing trial. They claim the proof of concept exercise means that the UK’s mobile operators can now start distributing bandwidth resources to each customer according to their needs. In a lab demo, two technology teams jointly created an on-demand 5G network slice that was configured, using a RAN slicing function, to create instant responsiveness in a simulated virtual reality use case in a fictional retail store. In the exercise the slice guaranteed a download speed of 260Mbps and latency of 12.4 milliseconds.
Ericsson built 5G Standalone in container
The experiment used an Ericsson-built 5G Standalone containerised core and end-to-end automated orchestration, including 5G RAN slicing. The lab trial is the first of ‘its kind’ (presumably virtual reality) for the mobile industry in the UK, said a Vodafone statement. In the exercise it took 30 minutes to go from order taking to slice apportioning within live network traffic. This, says Vodafone shows how operators can quickly create automated and customised broadband in response to the changing demands of customers.
Networks cab be sliced many ways
Networks can be sliced in different ways according to demand. Sometimes the problem being solved is due to geographical location, whereby a single remote office might be guaranteed a good data pipeline to anywhere in the country. In other cases, the download and upload speeds of, say, heavy data users like gamers or developers might need to be given minimum thresholds. Mobile gaming is emerging as a huge consumer of data and a market opportunity for mobile operators.
Businesses want continuity
Other demands for network slices may involve the setting of maximum thresholds for latency, capacity for certain devices in specific areas and industrial strength business continuity through the use of top-grade cybersecurity features. Vodafone envisages the first market opportunities for operators to be around secure communications for remote workers and high performing cloud-based and mobile gaming. The safety of autonomous vehicles is reliant on instant responses and will be an opportunity in future. Remote assistance for specialist procedures in hospitals and ambulances is another possible application of the technology.
Slicing seems like science fiction
“Network slicing is an incredibly valuable step forward. By segmenting our network and customising different slices for different needs, we can bring to life new ideas that would be impossible otherwise,” said Andrea Dona, the chief network officer at Vodafone UK, “when we configure our network to empower new services, industries like gaming, entertainment and healthcare can enter a new era. What might seem like science fiction is one step closer thanks to network slicing.”
Create new business models
“Network slicing will play a crucial role in 5G services for consumers and enterprises,” said Andrea Spaccapietra, Ericsson’s digital services VP, “the tools efficiently manage network resources and provide differentiated services with dedicated performance. Network operators like Vodafone can create new business models and use cases across different sectors and unlock new revenue opportunities to realize the full potential of 5G.”
About the trial
How did the network slice improve performance for a virtual reality use case?
|Key Performance Metric||Virtual reality network slice (controlled environment)||Public internet|
|Download speed (Mbps)||260||49.41|
|Upload speed (Mbps)||16.5||8.17|