An important part to understanding 5G protocol and architecture is having a firm grasp of the big picture 5G core network (5GC).
The 5G system has been designed to support data connectivity and services which would enable deployment, by the industry, using new techniques such as Network Function VirtualizationandSoftware Defined Networking.
The need for these new techniques was due to the various different profiles of data services that needed to be supported by the 5G network. Previously, mobile networks had been designed keeping the average smartphone user in the center, but with 5G this has changed as with the boom of data connectivity various use cases having completely different data requirements have come up and the network operator needs to satisfy all these requirements as efficiently as possible.
With this in mind, the 3GPP (standards organizations) has kept the basic idea of having a flat architecture where the Control Plane (CP) functions are separated from the User Plane (UP) in order to make them scaling independent allowing operators to use this functional split for dimensioning, deploying and adapting the network to their needs easily.
Another central idea in the design of 5G has been to minimize dependencies between the Access Network (AN) and the Core Network (CN) with a converged access-agnostic core network with a common AN – CN interface which integrates different 3GPP and non-3GPP access types.
It’s also key to understand that in order to facilitate the enablement of different data services and requirements the elements of the 5GC, also called Network Functions, have been further simplified with most of them being software based so that they could be adapted according to need.
The aim of it all is to have a 5G core network that is flexible enough to adapt and satisfy the needs for Gbps seeking smartphone users as well as low latency seeking critical services along with low speed IoT devices.
It is also been designed to be more open and modular than its predecessor allowing the different entities inside the core network to interact with each other without any preconditions and allowing to define procedures for this interaction.
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