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In what the parties call a world first, Deutsche Telekom and Ericsson have revealed what they regard as a step-change proof of concept implementation of global 5G end-to-end network slicing, facilitating uniform international connectivity for latency-critical enterprise applications with guaranteed quality of service (QoS).
In what could be a huge boost to the use of software-defined infrastructures that have grown in use since the outbreak of the pandemic, the global 5G slicing trial includes SD-WAN and end-to-end service orchestration, as well as managed connectivity for latency-critical applications in different countries.
The firms said combining 5G slicing and SD-WAN technology allows flexible connectivity establishment and control, while traffic breakout close to the application servers enables low latency. The companies added that such an approach will be especially beneficial for global enterprises who run latency-critical applications in different international subsidiaries.
Since the inception of next-generation networks, end-to-end network slicing has been regarded as a key enabler for unlocking 5G opportunities, driving business model innovation and new use cases across various industry sectors. Deutsche Telekom and Ericsson see 5G slicing as enabling use cases that require specific resources and QoS levels.
They also believe that globally operating enterprises are seeing more need for uniform connectivity characteristics to serve their applications in different markets, noting key examples of latency-critical business applications that demand consistent international connectivity performance, including broadcasting, logistics and automotive telematics.
In the trial, the QoS connectivity was extended from Germany to Poland using a 5G slicing setup that is based on commercial-grade Ericsson 5G standalone (SA) radio and core network infrastructure, and a Deutsche Telekom commercial SD-WAN service. The home operator-controlled User Plane Function was placed in Poland as the visited country and the entire setup is managed by an Ericsson orchestrator integrated with a Deutsche Telekom business support system via open TM Forum application programming interfaces.
The trial was also said to have enhanced 5G network slicing with SD-WAN in an international setup, with a central, common orchestration enabling flexible and automated connectivity establishment and control; low latencies with QoS due to traffic breakout of a QoS secured slice in a visited country; use of shared radio access network (RAN) infrastructure and QoS assured RAN partitions.
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Furthermore, Deutsche Telekom and Ericsson noted that making efficient use of the radio spectrum and isolating different users with their service level agreement (SLA)/QoS requirements efficiently is key for differentiated service offerings using end-to-end 5G network slicing technology. In addition to differentiated QoS treatment, the capability of the radio resource partitioning feature for RAN slicing was also verified.
It was said to have achieved an efficient isolation and sharing of radio resources among network slices by isolating the radio resources into partitions that can be associated per network slice in a dynamic way.
Each network slice was able to rely on the availability of a certain minimum allocation of radio resources, while unused capacity is dynamically made available to other network slices, thus maximising the overall capacity of the system. For an operator, this could enable the delivery of high-value services with SLA assurance, while at the same time using valuable spectrum efficiently and meeting uniform service characteristics across geographies for global enterprise needs offered by a central operator in cooperation with international partner operators.
Commenting on results obtained in the new trial, Alex Choi, senior vice-president of technology strategy and innovation at Deutsche Telekom, said: “Network slicing is a key 5G enabler to deliver tailored connectivity services to enterprise customers. By flexibly combining 5G slicing with SD-WAN in an international setup, we can address the emerging need among enterprises for uniform global connectivity with guaranteed quality of service.”
Ericsson’s senior vice-president, chief technology officer and head of group function technology, Erik Ekudden, said: “Combining different technologies in an intelligent and flexible way across borders to address the emerging needs of globally operating enterprises is another proof point of the promise that a global 5G ecosystem can offer.”
In July 2021, the two companies announced the fruits of early network slicing tests carried out with Samsung. The test aimed to show the benefits of network slicing optimised for cloud virtual reality game streaming. It was carried out at Deutsche Telekom’s Bonn lab on a Samsung S21 commercial device tethered to a virtual reality headset using a commercial-grade 5G standalone infrastructure provided by Ericsson, including Radio Access Network, 5G Cloud Core, slice orchestration and ordering automation.