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Network slicing

What is Network Slicing and How Does it Help 5G Consumers?

The 5G technology has made many impossible things possible. Be it achieving 30 times faster speed than 4G networks or deploying 5G in defense and the medical world, 5G is truly world changing. One wonders how can 5G achieve everything which 4G can’t! Network Slicing is one such technology which assists 5G to create a variety of network slices to support specific devices and appliances.

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Did you know when 4G was introduced, the network companies struggled to reach the prescribed 4G speeds! In this process, 4G LTE was introduced. So, basically, any speed is trying to match up the given 4G speeds, was named as LTE. One should wonder then how 5G speeds are achieved and distributed amongst various devices and appliances in a world where 4G speed for many instances, was not achieved.

Our answer lies in Network Slicing. Therefore, today’s article is all about what is network slicing and what are the benefits of network slicing, specific to 5G customers.

Let’s get into it then!

What is Network Slicing?

To define network slicing in simple terms, it is a method which assists in creating multiple unique logical and virtualized networks on a common multi-domain infrastructure. The 4G network cannot support Network slicing technology. Therefore, only 5G network can fully utilize the technology to fulfill specific requirements for a variety of devices and appliances.

To put in simple words, a mobile phone’s wifi calling network needs will differ from a connected ambulance or vehicle. These needs differ in terms of latency, speed, and reliability. With network slicing, each device’ or appliances’ network needs can be completely and accurately met with 5G. This helps in optimum utilization of the network.

How does network slicing work?

We won’t get into very technical details here. Network slicing can be made possible with the following tools:

  • SDN (Software Defined Networking)
  • Network Functions Virtualization
  • Orchestration
  • Analytics
  • Automation
  • Mobile Network Operators (MNOs)

The above tools help in creating network slices of the 5G network. Each network slice is configured to be used to support a specific set of devices, services, applications, or users. These slices can be deployed across various domains and operators.

As you know, with the advent of 5G, a new set of services have come into picture. These new services which run on the internet or in the connected world require something different which a normal 4G network without any network slicing cannot provide. Therefore, 5G network works. Every new set of services or devices, etc., have their own network slices designed according to their specific network needs. This is 5G network slicing.

Network slicing in 5G has a variety of use cases. They are majorly categorized in 3 different categories. Services which relate to each other in their network requirements are put together.

Use Cases for Network Slicing in 5G

Let’s know what the types of use cases for 5G network slicing are.

Extreme Mobile Broadband (eMBB)

As the name suggests, Extreme Mobile broadband are the activities performed using a mobile network. These online activities use up a high amount of bandwidth and mostly video centric. They generate the most amount of traffic.

For example: Watching a movie on an OTT platform using mobile network, using social media and watching content online, video calling, immersive gaming, AR and VR, etc.

Massive Machine-type Communication (Mmtc)

This kind of use case usually refers to Internet of Things but a much larger scale. The devices connected under IoT or Mmtc generate less traffic than Embb.

For example: Factory level automation, autonomous vehicles, etc.

Ultra reliable Low Latency Communications (urLLC)

These communications will help in telemedicine field with remote surgery, vehicle to vehicle communication. The requirements here are reliable network and low latency for faster and real time communication. The network slice needs to have mobile edge computing capacity.

Must Read: Communication Models in IoT

For example: Traffic control for smart cities

Network Slicing in 5G is the answer to managing a network which meets the differing requirements of a wide range of users. Without network slicing, the 5G network would offer the same kind of network in terms of reliability, latency, and more for every user’s or service’s requirement. While some would have thrived with their requirements being met, some service sectors would suffer and not perform well.

For example, offering a normal network speed with medium latency won’t work for telemedicine or immersive gaming. Both the fields require low latency networks offering a stable connection. A medium latency network with stability won’t be enough for both and will affect their performances.

What are the Benefits of Network Slicing?

Slicing of the network in individual logical virtual slices is the best decision for 5G service providers and 5G users. Here’s why.

For the Service Providers:

  • Roll out new services and push the boundaries to create new revenue opportunities.
  • Enable more kinds of services for users as the network can support them using network slicing technology.
  • Scale easily as the physical infrastructure for all remains the same.
  • Maximum use of resources results in better ROI.

For the 5G Users:

  • Better experience in terms of immersive gaming (thanks to Embb)
  • Uninterrupted 8K entertainment.
  • Quick medical support and communication.
  • Access to telemedicine and other services like remote surgery, thanks to network slicing.
  • 5G supported factories for better and accurate manufacturing process, automation, and communication.

These are a few benefits one can experience with network slicing.

Moving on, network slicing in 5G really affects these 3 aspects of a network.

  • Real-time Performance
  • Capacity
  • Security

Let’s see how!

A company which deals in autonomous vehicle management will depend on 5G networks. This particular company can go for mobile network slicing and ask for latency rate under 5 milliseconds. Moreover, the company would also require an excellent response rate with minimum throughput. In such a case, what the network needs is real-time performance and communication. URLLC would definitely play a strong role here.

While a company in autonomous vehicle management requires low latency of 5 m/s, a security monitoring system’s needs will be different. The focus of the security management company won’t be low latency but the assurance that no data packet is dropped in the process. Similarly, a human health monitor system’s focus will be to have no risk of data leak and any threat of breach. Therefore, the slice it requires needs to be single-user oriented.

Therefore, we can conclude that network slicing in 5G is not just about getting the fastest speed or connection, it’s about getting just the right type of connection for every user and use cases. Start experiencing the new world of 5G for your prepaid and postpaid connection!