For the past year 20 months, the major carriers have been rolling out 5G in a more or less furtive mode.
This was primarily due to the need to build out the complicated and expensive 5G infrastructure before being able to offer the complete product.
That’s about to change. In 2021 expect carriers to put a cap on their hybrid (non standalone) version of 5G and begin to offer the real deal standalone (SA) 5G. The standalone mode of 5G NR refers to using 5G cells for both signaling and information transfer. It’s the first time there will be a true end to end 5G network.
It includes the new 5G Packet Core architecture instead of relying on the 4G Evolved Packet Core, to allow the deployment of 5G without the LTE network.
Standalone 5G NR is better aligned to support the new cases and unlock the power of the next-generation mobile technology. The SA version, which does not rely on LTE, allows an operator to address massive machine-to-machine communications, or ultrareliable low latency IoT. Industry insiders generally view SA 5G as a key enabler of advanced use cases like autonomous vehicles, smart manufacturing, remote surgery and the “internet of senses.”
SA 5G also provides network slicing functionality.
5G network slicing is a network architecture that enables the multiplexing of virtualized and independent logical networks on the same physical network infrastructure. Each network slice is an isolated end-to-end network tailored to fulfil diverse requirements requested by a particular application.
In other words, network slicing is a mechanism for creating logical networks with tailored capabilities for specific needs over one common physical platform. Instead of rolling out separate networks designed for specific services, 5G combines them into one physical network and “slices” it to fulfil various user needs.
Capabilities such as data speed, latency, security and mobility will be defined to meet the particular demands of each use case. Further, each slice is logically separate so that no slice can interfere with the traffic in another slice.
As a result they appear as separate networks to the users. This has several desirable outcomes, for example the ability to contain a cyber-attack in one slice or preventing extraordinary scenarios, such as preventing a misbehaving sensor in one slice from affecting a critical service running in another slice.
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