4G is going to be around for quite a while, and both 4G and 5G networks will need to co-exist for many years. There are practical deployment considerations for such 4G/5G co-existence scenarios. A converged core network will enhance user experience, simplify operations, and enable agile new service creation opening up more enterprise and consumer opportunities for communication service providers. In this blog, we will explore the various solutions that are available for CSPs.
Benefits of service providers who installing cloud-native 5G Core and 5G SA Technologies
The CSP will be able to bring new products and solutions in a shorter time. Short-term and long term impact can be managed. Effective migration strategies can be deployed. The technologies ensure greenfield 5G Core deployment. Smart investment decisions will require a simplification of the network and operations. Continuous Integration and Deployment (CI/CD) will be needed to launch services with agility.
Challenges in launching 5G network
Most 5G ‘non-standalone’ deployments are built on existing 4G infrastructure. A 4G/5G converged core is the need of the hour as there are several challenges in launching a 5G SA technology. Virtualization has brought new risks. When a network resides in software, there is a danger of cross-contamination and data leakages. Many MNOs and CSPs are running analogue services. Digital interactions are necessary for a better understanding of subscribers’ behavior. A new approach to network connectivity and security is needed as there is variability in the network connection.
Strategic concerns that need to be addressed
There are several strategic concerns of CSPs and MNOs that a service provider should address before designing a core network. The following areas are significant for them.
• Operations and life cycle management – They want to operate a cloud-native platform efficiently and fully exploit the potential of 5G network
• Flexibility – They want the ability to combine Evolved Packet Core and 5G core network functions to provide better services and ensure TCO efficiency.
• Cloud-native applications – They expect to deploy a Kubernetes over bare-metal infrastructure optimized for cloud-native applications
• Network Security – They would expect to automate security for continuous compliance, threat detection and response.
• Automation & Orchestration – They should be able to increase network automation and orchestrate new 5G use cases
• 5G voice – They expect the ability to use the existing IMS solutions for providing high-quality 5G voice services
NEC can provide the right solution for MNOs and CSPs
NEC’s 4G/5G converged core solutions have many added advantages for a CSP and MNO. The following advantages can be leveraged by them.
• 3GPP compliance - 3GPP has defined specifications for complete end-to-end cellular systems, including the user equipment (or devices), radio access, core network, and service framework.
• Advanced technologies – Network slicing, Multi-access edge computing and Separation of Control and User Plane enables the provider to support a variety of use cases.
• Flexibility – Flexible operation can be achieved where the 5G core for the control plane is deployed on the customer’s on-premise or on the public cloud.
• Ultra-low latency – UPF or user plane node is located closer to the edge so that time-sensitive services that demand very low latency can be achieved in an efficient manner.
• Platform agnostic – The converged core network of NEC ensures that all devices can be used. The solution is flexible and can run on the customer’s private as well as public cloud environments.
• Seamless migration from 4G to 5G – NEC’s converged core can accommodate both 4G and 5G users.
• Ability to add microservices – Being fully virtualized and containerized, it ensures flexible scalability of service components. Microservices can be added, removed or scaled on demand which enhances the efficiency of resource utilization.
The transformation of 4G to a 5G network is accompanied with many challenges. Since a 5G standalone technology is complex, a CSP or an MNO will require a partner who can help it leverage the benefits of 5G core network. The partner will provide services that will help the operator in migrating from 4G to 5G seamlessly. As the demand for time-sensitive services has increased, it will also ensure ultra-low latency. Advanced technologies of the service provider will help the CSP in supporting a variety of use cases.