Supporting IoT services on 5G network slices through Service Quality Management – Part 1

Sandeep Raina of MYCOM OSI

High speed, high reliability and low latency are the key benefits that CSPs expect from 5G. While high speed (targeted at 20 Gbps) helps to upload and download video-based content faster and in larger volumes, high reliability (always 100%) supports mission-critical services especially in the IoT world. Here is the Part 1 of the article.

Low latency (sub millisecond) cuts down the time to deliver mission-critical applications. Never before has Service Quality Management (SQM) in mobile networks been as important as now. This is because IoT has opened up a new world of differentiated services that can bring in tremendous business opportunities for the IoT players as well as the CSPs.

How is 5G helping with this?

While 5G offers a recourse to the unprecedented use of video services, fuelled by social media and Virtual Reality (VR) and widespread availability of smartphones, it is the sudden growth of IoT devices flooding the global market that helps the most.

IoT will revolutionise the human lifestyle, with billions of hyper-connected devices communicating with humans and with each other. With the increase in wearable technology, motion-based sensors, voice command and eye movement sensors, 5G use cases are being driven by low latency and high-reliability requirements of such IoT devices, says Sandeep Raina, Product Marketing director, MYCOM OSI.

5G offers a unique capability to cut the RAN and Core networks into suitable slices so that they can support different IoT services according to an associated SLA. This is important because never before have such differentiated services been devised or imposed upon the mobile network.

Let’s take a few examples of what the service categories supported by 5G networks are:

    • Enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) that delivers gigabytes of bandwidth on demand for UHD video, VR, etc.
    • Massive machine-type communication (mMTC) that connects billions of sensors and machines to the tune of 1 million per square kilometer to support smart cities
    • Ultra-reliable, low latency communication (uRLLC) that allows immediate feedback with high reliability and enables real-time remote control over robots in manufacturing and autonomous driving

5G slices and associated complexity

5G network operators will be challenged by new customer groups: those that deliver, amongst other services, hyper-sensored automotives, connected factories, distant healthcare and smart cities. The consumers of digital network services will have high expectations of quality and will push for stringent SLAs and policy control.

Parts or layers of the 5G network will need to be dedicated to such customers along with cloud-based automation techniques to deliver on the demands of speed and reliability. These dedicated parts of the network are called network slices, which are essentially grouped components of the 5G RAN and the NFV core network, with assigned QoS capabilities to suit a dynamically allocated IoT service.

So, irrespective of who the IoT customer is (connected factory, smart energy, smart home, etc.) or where the mobile IoT customer goes (connected car, fleet management, etc.), the network slice stays dedicated to it.

The challenge lies in managing the complexity associated with creation and management of the slices, for example mapping an IoT service to the most suitable network slice or mapping a bundle of IoT services to a network slice. IoT users can also be assigned a primary slice and a secondary slice for backup. In some cases, there can be the existence of sub-slices within a network slice. There is also a possibility that network slices can be leased to other mobile networks.

As the service and the required QoS characteristics are assigned to a slice or sub-slice as per the above configurations, it needs to be continuously monitored for the offered QoS/SLA. And there needs to be a closed loop system to orchestrate the network slice in real time. This is where a digital Service Quality Management (SQM) system plays an essential role.

The author of this blog is Sandeep Raina, Product Marketing director, MYCOM OSI

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