Nokia project with the Hamburg Port Authority portends the future of 5G network slicing
Nokia dropped a massive amount of news before and during Mobile World Congress 2018. To get a high-level understanding of how the myriad operator engagements and product launches fit together, RCR Wireless News sat down in Barcelona with Nokia Networks Vice President of Portfolio Marketing Phil Twist to get his perspective.
Prior to MWC, Nokia announced its Future X portfolio, which covers everything from RAN, core and transport to the software and virtualization tools needed to automate increasingly complex, converged network environments tasked with handling a huge and rapidly increasing volume of data traffic.
Twist said Nokia customers have reacted very positively to Future X because “it actually shows that we have come up with a comprehensive view of what the network of the future needs to look like. It’s all the different components and the evolutionary journey. It gives operators a blueprint against which they can invest in the future networks they need to build.”
He highlighted the move toward “multi-access environments” that blend mobile technologies, DSL, G-PON, “whatever. It’s not something that’s based purely on 5G. It’s an architecture for how you can adjust the core network and implement the network function virtualization tools and how you can layer applications on top. It’s kind of a model of what future networks need to look like.”
As operators move from 5G trial projects onto commercial roll-out and on from there, network slicing is seen as a key component of maximizing spectrum and network resources, which can simultaneously reduce operator opex and improve quality of network experience. At a high-level, network slicing creates multiple virtual networks that are optimized to a particular level of service requirements all on a single physical infrastructure.
“In very crude terms,” Twist said, “no one is going to be able to do [network slicing]properly until 3GPP determines the standards. It will come with mainstream 5G.”
In Germany, Nokia is working with the Hamburg Port Authority and Deutsche Telekom to test 5G network slicing in an industrial context. The network supports trial activity related to traffic light management, analysis of sensor data and virtual reality applications.
Of the project, “One of the big elements…we want to do there is network slicing,” Twist said. “Effectively what we have is a closed network, end-to-end, in a captive environment.” In using that network to prove out various applications, network slicing is being used to optimize the capacity and latency demands of different services. “It allocates resources for the type of service we’re trying to do across the network so you have the characteristics you need.”