Network traffic is not created equal. Unfortunately, until recently, network carriers were unable to do much about it.
The advent of 5G could alter this. It will do so by combining the coverage of large, public networks with the tailored characteristics of a 5G private network.
Network slicing enables these advantages by partitioning and provisioning a number of virtual networks within a single physical infrastructure. Network slicing enables service providers to optimize traffic for particular use cases, such as those requiring high reliability, low latency, or specialized security.
Network slicing enables CSPs to provide differentiated services to enterprises and consumers at scale. CSPs must develop tools with unprecedented network visibility to reach this goal.
Ericsson estimates that network slicing can generate $200 billion for CSPs by 2030. This includes opportunities to offer different service tiers to meet the needs of enterprise customers and to provide access to gaming-optimized consumer network slices. These enhanced revenue capabilities may help to justify the substantial costs associated with the construction of 5G core networks.
But only if operators can answer a simple question: Can they fulfill their obligations and deliver the quality of service they promise?
CSPs will require processes and technologies that allow them to identify and anticipate service disruptions in order to maximize customer satisfaction and investment returns.
Nevertheless, the transition to cloud-native 5G networks presents a number of observability challenges that make it challenging. For instance, IP addresses no longer uniquely identify network functions as they did in 4G, necessitating the development of new techniques to determine how 5G components behave. Additionally, cloud-native deployment will alter the topology of networks, increasing their horizontal and vertical complexity.
The best practice for organizations that want to expand their service offerings with these new capabilities is to design in observability from the beginning, not as an afterthought. Observability solutions must measure vital SLA metrics, such as network and application latency and uplink/downlink throughput.
Responses to service interruptions should also be automated, utilizing artificial intelligence to identify trouble spots, direct responses, and respond automatically to routine network disruptions.
Use Cases For Businesses And Customers
Network slicing enables unprecedented resource provisioning flexibility for CSPs. It would enable a network operator, for instance, to reserve massive resources for an event such as the Super Bowl, when traffic volumes are high and increase as fans react to spectacular events.
And when the game concludes, operators may discard the network slice, thereby reclaiming the bandwidth.
The benefits to end users extend far beyond mere amusement. They reach the enterprise level.
A defined, high-reliability network slice for telerobotic surgeons, where the surgeon is located in one city and the patient is located in another, could reduce patient travel burdens and increase access to specialists in the healthcare industry.
At the enterprise level, network slicing is ideal for organizations that want to develop secure automated processes for faster and more secure business and operational technology delivery.
Adoption Must Be Observable
As of June 2022, the Global Mobile Suppliers Association counted 493 5G operators in 150 countries. Approximately 105 had been identified as investing in 5G independently.
5G is not just 4G on steroids. It signifies a fundamental shift in the telecommunications industry. It facilitates the innovation of other emerging technologies, such as pervasive augmented reality and autonomous vehicles.
Without network slicing, it is impossible for providers to provision the necessary resources to offer these new services. Pervasive observability within the slice and across the network will assist CSPs in delivering superior experiences and accelerating the adoption of new technologies.
Don’t forget to ask your potential partners a few questions when evaluating solutions to help you navigate your 5G evolution if you are a CSP. Can they provide visibility in the north-south and east-west directions for hybrid networks? Do they utilize machine learning and artificial intelligence to automate analytics? Do they offer packet access and are they able to scale deep packet inspection?
CSPs will need partners to help them deliver all that 5G has to offer; partners that can offer enhanced network visibility to help them meet end-user expectations. We cannot innovate if we cannot see our destination.