Improving Telco’s Enterprise reach through Slicing and RAN control

Growing business in 5G era largely depends on ecosystem enablement and on idea that Telco’s can build a future Infrastructure that can deliver business outcomes for not only traditional Telco customers but also for broader verticals may it be Manufacturing ,Mining, Retail , Finance , Public safety , Tourism or eventually anything .

This means “Programmable” and “Automated” infrastructure is the base to achieve any such business outcome . Applying this to Telco’s 5G and Transformation journey will mean both “Network Slicing” and the “Private Networks” and although i totally agree with idea that both will co-exist and proliferate but to be fair it is a fact that although Network slicing has delivered outcomes in Labs and Demos it has still number of challenges when apply to practice .

Recently i have heard many views from many reputable names including my friend Dean Bubley and Karim so i thought to share my views on this topic highlighting some work we have been doing with our partners and customers in APAC as well in the GSMA and to allude to some improvements we have achieved in last year since i shared my views with industry on Network Slicing and its Delivery .

Today Network slicing has been live in a number of customers including Singtel that has achieved substantial outcomes with Slicing however the bigger challenge still remain un-answered

How will Network slicing address RAN resources ?

How will Network Slicing can help to monetize low hanging fruits of Edge together with Telco domain slicing

In 3GPP Release17 we have been doing some exciting progress on later with a new architecture and API exposure for co-deployment of Edge with RAN but again prior to this we need to extend the Slicing towards the Access Networks both from Technology and Business Architecture Perspective and this is what i will share in this paper

Experience Learnt from 5G Networks rollout

As many Telco’s in 2021+ accelerated 5G rollout and built 5G SA Core Networks one think proved more than before that limitation on

  • RAN resources are always scarce
  • AI need to be enabled to intelligently modify slicing in real time
  • Spectrum and RAN layers will be a top pressings time for Telco’s to deliver value
  • RAN resource isolation must follow performance: cost baseline
  • How to handle resources in peak time and pre-empt some over others is vital
  • Regulatory and GDPR is vital to achieve anything big in this domain

Orchestration must precede Network Slicing

From Above experience we can infer that it is really not about Network slicing but rather “Open” , “Control” and “API” to enable End to end Network slicing LCM and Orchestration all the way from UE to RAN to Edge to Core to Cloud

  • Dynamic control of resources with Telco level visibility in Key
  • RAN automation is first step to be done before Slicing change RAN resources
  • Cloud operations model is vital to support Network slicing because although there are many business verticals the Telco’s really have to build an efficient and Multi tenant operational model to win it

Cloud Operations Model that is secure and Multi tenant must be enabled across all Telecom Infrastructure

RAN SLA’s for vertical industry

The notion of Network slicing still lies in selling a SLA vs Selling a Network .

First of all RAN resources are always limited and secondly each vertical industry has its own traffic profile and trajectory which can never be planned using old Telecom simulation tools it means dynamic learning and resource adjustment is key . This all alludes to the fact that changing network while ensuring network KQI remain intact is something that require Full visibility and programmable Control

It leads us to consider following architecture first before Slicing is full enabled for the RAN

  • Slice LCM must be supported by automatic Infrastructure that is elastic and Telco grade at the same time
  • Scale out architecture must be enabled in RAN
  • RF and Spectrum resource scheduling is the most expensive and intricate resources for services and we must enable their dynamic control

Intelligent Networking ML/AI must be enabled first

Automation can deliver a myriad of outcomes including better control , real time changes , optimization , compliance and FCAPS for each tenant however it is not sufficient

Intent driven networks that uses power of data , ML and AI to orchestrate and adapt network is a capability that should be enabled on a network scale before network slicing can deliver a business outcome

It leads us to consider following architecture first before Slicing is full enabled for the RAN

  • Slice LCM must be supported by automatic Infrastructure that is elastic and Telco grade at the same time
  • Scale out architecture must be enabled in RAN
  • RF and Spectrum resource scheduling is the most expensive and intricate resources for services and we must enable their dynamic control

Components of a RAN Slice

Although the Core Slicing capability still exists on OSS and SMO layers that are outside the RAN still the real power of Slicing will come as we address the RT capability of RAN slicing which enables us to deliver following for a business tenant

  • RRM
  • Connection management
  • MM
  • Spectrum layers

All of this must be available to package as a NSSF functional instance as alluded below

Partnerships and Ecosystem

According to the latest GSMA report one use case enablement for any vertical will require at least 7 Players to work together , so RAN slicing or in other words Slicing Business outcomes is not a matter of one body or business to solve . Today to incrementally deliver the business outcomes following are key organizations collaborating to adress those challenges

  • ETSI NFV
  • GSMA
  • MEF
  • IETF
  • O-RAN and TIP
  • ONAP
  • 5GAA , ZVEI etc

We are also taking an aggregation approach where we are summing all the knowledge from these bodies and deliver as a outcome for our customers . you can reach out for more details .

Automation DevNetOps & SecOps Digital Operations Orchestration

Saad Sheikh View All →

I am a Senior Architect with a passion to architect and deliver solutions addressing business adoption of the Cloud and Automation/Orchestration covering both Telco and IT Applications industry.

My work in carrier Digital transformation involve Architecting and deploying Platforms for both Telco and IT Applications including Clouds both Open stack and container platforms, carrier grade NFV ,SDN and Infra Networking , DevOps CI/CD , Orchestration both NFVO and E2E SO , Edge and 5G platforms for both Consumer and Enterprise business. On DevOps side i am deeply interested in TaaS platforms and journey towards unified clouds including transition strategy for successful migration to the Cloud

Please write to me on snasrullah@swedtel.com

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