Talking to a random sample of vendors at Mobile World Congress this past spring, it was tough to get a definitive sense of what the 5G mobile core would look like. There were plenty of ideas and visions, but the only clear point of agreement was that it was too early to know for sure. Well, that and the fact that the 5G mobile core would include mobile edge computing (MEC) and network slicing. Yep, everyone seemed to agree on that.
The fact that many definitions of network slicing include the term ‘network slice’ might seem tautological (or redundant in non-SAT speak). Chalk that up to the concept of a ‘slice’ being particularly apropos for describing dynamically created (sliced) virtual networks in support of specific service requirements. Think stitching together diverse network resources – virtual or physical; RAN, core, or transport; storage or compute – in order to deliver on the demands of network operator or third-party delivered services. Per a recent 5G Americas whitepaper, “Network slicing, in its simplest description, is the ability to tailor a set of functions to optimize use of the network for each mobile device. All of the functionality needed, but only the functionality needed, is assembled in a way that optimizes that device’s ability to find the correct network, access the network efficiently and securely, and be attached to the core network with the set of functionality needed by that device.” Continue reading “Building 5G: Network Slicing”