2019 is the year 5G becomes a reality for consumers and businesses around the world. Early adopters will benefit from vastly improved speeds and new services built around data intensive tasks, such as VR and AR and Industry 4.0 will become tangible.
While increased bandwidth opens the door to new services, simply increasing speeds won’t create the performance increase needed to really meet the full potential of 5G. This will be particularly true for industry.
Much as you wouldn’t visit a mechanic to fix a broken leg, you wouldn’t expect the network supporting a hospital to be the same as one serving autonomous vehicles. The underlying technology may be the same, but the requirements for maintaining a patient’s heartbeat, the safety of a car and the positioning of steel in a factory are very different. Speed and low latency alone aren’t the answer.
5G has the potential to enable a totally new economy for operators
The way operators sell today is largely wholesale or SLA volume-based. It’s traditional, boring and won’t meet the potential of 5G, where dynamically managed and on-demand services, matched to the tasks they perform, will become a reality.
Today, networks are provisioned with three or four layers, acting in isolation – or even conflict. With network slicing, the layers are harmonized to create one stable, unified, digital operations model. Through slicing, operators can meet the strongest requirements when it comes to latency and reliability, opening new markets and making it possible to do more with their network.
Network slicing allows the active management of every connection in the network, so time critical control can be guaranteed. It’s a premium proposition that commands a premium price, so it’s worth planning the journey to network slicing now.
New business models for Industry 4.0
Premium products require premium connectivity and as greater variety of services, use cases and business models drive greater complexity, needs will be diverse. Network slicing will allow operators to guarantee those needs are met and premium products are delivered seamlessly.
In the case of our proof of concept with BMW, various network slices support streaming for onboard entertainment, HD Map information downloads and communication for automated driving. Each slice has a very important role, but also different speed and capacity requirements. For entertainment, passengers want to be able to stream high quality video without buffering, whereas HD Map updates are not a continuous stream, but rather massive amounts of data delivered at sporadic intervals. For communication between cars - for example to prevent crashes – data rates will be much lower, but latency needs to be low and the network must be extremely reliable.
Extreme automation handles the complexity of multiple slices, but also offers a new way to sell. Network slicing makes self-service a reality, making it easy for customers to select the type and number of slices they need, instantiated automatically by the network. This approach simply isn’t possible with today’s network models.
Managing the complexity
We now have three separate slices for BMW; one customer in one industry. Once we take into account other automotive customers alongside industries such as transportation, smart factories and healthcare the number of slices grows exponentially, making managing conflicting slices with varied requirements and SLAs a challenge. Extreme automation, alongside predictive technologies and network transparency are the only way to enable the dynamic control of slices to respond to incidents and ensure quality of service.
In the case of our example with BMW, should a public safety event be triggered, the network is able to respond automatically - surveillance cameras use AI to detect an incident, automatically triggering a slice for the response team. The streaming slice receives less capacity, reducing video quality, but maintaining the stream in an acceptable quality. The SLAs are maintained, with the network intelligently managing the needs of the slices even under severe conditions.
Network slicing will only work with extreme levels of automation, prediction and the ability to continuously monitor and manage the network. It also requires forethought around which industries and use cases you want to support. Today, this means cloudifying operations and investing in predictive and automation technologies. Tomorrow it means enabling new ways of doing business to suit the diverse industries and use cases you support, providing bespoke, premium services to support the myriad requirements and SLAs that cannot be addressed by a one-size-fits-all network configuration, but rather by tailored, dynamically managed slices.
The solution – Nokia Digital Operations Fabric for Future X
Taking the above three aspects in consideration, we are launching Nokia Digital Operations Fabric, built on services as well as Nokia software innovations introduced over the years.
This Fabric, designed closely with Bell Labs, is a layered framework which includes digital ecosystem operations, customer centric service management, cognition and orchestration, and zero-touch functionalities.
Ensuring secure, automated and data-driven operations, it will not just be used for managing complexity of CSPs 5G sliced networks, but more significantly offer them a fast way to generate revenue, or to use the jargon of the day, monetize their 5G investments. It supports Platform-as-a-Service for new business and monetization models. Agile and scalable, this stretches in any direction with its new way of business enablement – hence the name fabric.
Through Platform-as-a-Service, Nokia offers a shared global ecosystem that manages interactions between the local CSP and specific vertical service providers. It facilitates collaboration between market players, enables closer partnerships between CSPs and enterprises, supports seamless onboarding, service enablement and commercial management. With regards to 5G technology, the solution instantly configures the required network slices and ensures a dedicated performance level for every third-party customer, who shares the generated revenue with CSP and Nokia. This brings a completely new paradigm. Watch this space for more.
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