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5G Signaling

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The right 5G signaling architecture is essential for business success

5G core function depends on healthy messaging between the network functions. The right signaling approach provides optimal performance and high network reliability. A poor architecture results higher operations costs, poor performance, or even network outages. 

Signaling is a key and intrinsic component of the network’s design. The core network signaling strategy must be in place from the start, not tacked on after the network is live. This results in lower deployment and operations costs and greater reliability.

What is 5G signaling?

Signaling is the relay of control messages between network functions (NFs) in a 5G core network. A well-designed signaling architecture results in optimum performance, balances load across network functions, and results in high reliability.

It’s possible to deploy both 5G and 4G networks without a signaling strategy, simply by connecting the network elements to each other. This leads to increased Total Cost of Ownership, since network expansion will lead to an expensive refit later. Including a robust signaling architecture from the start results in simpler deployment and operation, and lower TCO.

Nokia and ABI Research demonstrated this in a joint report.


Reduce deployment costs with advanced 5G Signaling

Watch the webinar on-demand between Nokia and ABI Research where we discuss the results of a signaling TCO study performed during the second half of 2022.

The optimal signaling architecture

Three fundamental attributes are important: Flexibility, Performance, and Cloud-native design. If any of these is missing, the operator’s business suffers.


The signaling system must be based on a capable Service Communication Proxy (SCP) deployed to deliver the full capability of the Service Based Architecture. This results in maximum network and service flexibility.


The signaling infrastructure must deliver low latency with high throughput across a variety of widely disparate service scenarios. That performance must be maintained even with complex protocol adaptation between NFs.


The signaling must be software based, cloud-native, and use web scale IT infrastructure techniques for deployment and operations. It should support private, public, and hybrid cloud deployments.

Service Communication Proxy (SCP)

SCP use cases

The SCP is the 5G core network function that allows service-based architecture to deliver its maximal benefit. It acts like a “switch” between network functions, simplifying interconnection between NFs. It provides load balancing, protocol adaptation and provides a single location to probe and observe signaling communication in the core.

Read the case studies here to discover more or click on the right image.

SCP reduces 5G core deployment costs

Including the SCP right from the start of deploying a 5G core reduces the total cost of the deployment, compared to adding it later – by as much as 26%. For CSPs who have already deployed the 5G core without the SCP, adding one will reduce operational complexity and costs.

Watch the webinar on-demand between Nokia and ABI Research where we discuss the result of a signaling TCO study performed during the second half of 2022. During this webinar, numerous questions arose, prompting us to compile a comprehensive Q&A document for your reference.

We collaborated with ABI Research to build a quantitative model to estimate the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) required to invest and roll out various types of Service Communications.

This presentation highlights key findings from the resulting research and analysis.

Together with ABI Research, we created a Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) calculator to determine an optimal approach for deploying 5G signaling in the core. We discovered that it’s far less costly to deploy advanced 5G signaling right from the start of a 5G core project. 

This video provides a brief walkthrough of our TCO calculator.

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How can I deploy the best 5G Signaling?

Nokia Cloud Signaling Director (CSD) delivers results

Nokia Cloud Signaling Director product implements the service communication proxy, security edge protection proxy (SEPP), and the binding support function (BSF) into a fully cloud-native package. It supports all signaling models, mediates messages at line rates, and provides stable and predictable performance.

The Service Communication Proxy provides the perfect location in a 5G SA Core to mirror unencrypted control plane traffic. This helps the operator diagnose and fix problems quickly and easily. Watch the demonstration with Satvinder Bawa.

Agile rules processing (A.R.T.)

Nokia’s Agile Rules Technology (A.R.T.) combines the benefits of general-purpose and hard-coded rules engines, without any of their drawbacks. It models the call flow and data requirements of a fundamental set of telecom use cases that represent key business models. Backed by over 150 patents, A.R.T. provides excellent run-time efficiency by anticipating and caching key data requirements of each call flow.

Read our white paper to discover how A.R.T. delivers high performance and extreme flexibility across a variety of Nokia products, including Signaling. A.R.T. is included in our Nokia CSD and Nokia Monetization products.

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