Ending the year in a flurry of 5G-related activity, Ericsson has made what could be significant announcements for the next-generation network going into 2020 as it enters the realm of standalone networks.
Ericsson’s cloud-native, container-based evolved packet core has been deployed in Telstra’s production network functions virtualisation infrastructure (NFVi), which could enable the Australian operator to significantly scale traditional wireless networks in creating new 5G services for consumers and enterprise customers.
This is said to be a key step in Telstra’s goal to build a web-scale core network and deliver 5G to consumers and enterprise customers, with the containerisation of core network functions allowing greater orchestration and automation of networks.
This could help operators to create and deliver new services such as enhanced mobile broadband, network slicing, mobile edge computing, mission-critical vertical industry support and advanced enterprise services. Containerised technologies are also designed to improve network resilience and software upgrade techniques to increase overall network availability for enterprise customers and services.
“Telstra’s business is being transformed to improve service delivery and provide customers with enhanced experiences,” said Shailin Sehgal, product enablement technology executive at Telstra. “To achieve this transformation, Telstra’s network needs to become more flexible and efficient, and cloud-native, container-based applications such as Ericsson’s containerised evolved packet core are a key element of this.
“This is key to cost-effectively scaling and automating our network and speeding up the delivery of innovative new services that are essential in a 5G world.”
Meanwhile, Ericsson says it is a step closer to standalone 5G after completing what it claims is the industry’s first successful voice over new radio (VoNR) interoperability test with device ecosystem partner MediaTek. With Standalone New Radio (SA NR), a 5G-enabled device does not need to rely on 4G technology to make 5G VoNR calls.
But with the arrival of SA NR access, voice and other communication services will need to be provided, requiring the 5G network to support native voice calling services for 5G smartphones. Using VoNR on standalone architecture, service providers will be able to offer voice services on 5G voice-capable devices as well as enhanced mobile broadband services to consumers and business users. SA NR networks will also enable a range of new services and will simplify network architecture.
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The first commercial 5G smartphones on the market use dual-mode connectivity to make voice calls over 4G, but use 5G for data boost. Ericsson sees the next step in the network evolution is to tap 5G to accommodate data traffic while using 4G for voice calls with evolved packet system (EPS) fallback. The final step, however, will involve avoiding dependence on 4G altogether, with the exclusive use of 5G (SA NR) for both voice and data services.
The interoperability test was conducted at the Ericsson Lab in Kista in early December 2019, and involved the use of an end-to-end solution from Ericsson and a Dimensity 1000 commercial chipset from MediaTek deployed on a 3.5GHz TDD band. The tests spanned SA NR, 5G core and IP multimedia subsystem to ensure that voice support was enabled. The two partners have also successfully tested EPS fallback for situations where standalone is not available.