Don’t Wait for 5G to Make Network Slicing Pay Off

5G is just around the corner… or so the story goes. Yes, network service providers worldwide are busy preparing to deploy 5G, if they haven’t already started. But we have to face facts — 5G technology is still evolving, and 5G networks serving mass market mobile devices won’t be available for some time. So, while it’s still important to gain early competitive advantage in the race to 5G, achieving the full potential of next-generation networks will be a marathon, not a sprint.

However, you don’t have to wait for 5G to fully mature before you can take advantage of a key aspect of 5G networks. As you drive toward the goal of delivering 5G services, you can serve a variety of different subscriber needs now with network slicing.

Carving Up Capacity

In the traditional network, bandwidth was fairly monolithic. Allocating capacity for certain subscribers typically required implementation of a VPN or VLAN, reserving bandwidth in a static way that was less than efficient. With the promise of 5G, the ultimate goal will be to create scalable, end-to-end network slices that will be applied dynamically through automation.

But network slicing is not just for 5G. You can implement network slicing in today’s networks to deliver differentiated services to business and consumer customers now.

Network slicing enables the creation of multi-application networks that provide service differentiation with a certain bandwidth profile to meet specific customer needs. For example, you can define a set of requirements, such as low latency or high availability, to serve various categories of services — from automation and IoT, to augmented and virtual reality. This not only provides a more efficient way to manage applications and resources for service assurance, it also offers opportunities to drive more subscriber revenue.

Start Slicing Now

To determine how to get started, consider the different bandwidth profiles and applications that will benefit from network slicing, and develop a broader policy around how you can separate out the network. Virtualized services can be defined and separated by allocating resources in virtual network functions (VNFs) to assure the performance of each slice.

Getting a head start on network slicing now means you don’t have to wait for 5G to offer new value-added services. And although 5G standards are still evolving, the ONAP Project recently released a new 5G blueprint, including support for network slicing. This means you can start working toward implementation of this technology in an open, disaggregated manner that will dovetail with future 5G networks.

Monetize the Slice

5G networks are being rolled out this year, but we’re going to be waiting a while for full mobile capability. Network slicing provides a clear opportunity to deliver profitable new services and improved quality of service (QoS) now. Potential business use cases include deployment of virtual customer premise equipment (CPE) technology at the edge of your network to better serve both consumer and enterprise customers. Network slicing can also be employed to make critical communications services more reliable for public safety agencies and municipal governments. These are just a few examples of how you can increase profits through network slicing. To learn more, register for the webinar “Approaches to Solving Network Slicing Before 5G” with IHSMarkit and Fujitsu: Register Here