Nokia and Proximus demo 5G network slicing innovation to support demanding network conditions

Leading comms tech provider enters into partnership with incumbent Belgian operator to deliver dedicated next-generation spectrum to support demanding conditions such as congested networks in use cases including Industry 4.0, fixed wireless access and cloud gaming

Belgium is rapidly turning into an innovation hub for next-generation mobile, and telco Proximus is the latest to demonstrate the power of 5G in a partnership with Nokia to enhance the performance of network slicing in demanding network conditions through the use of radio software-defined networking and radio resource allocation technologies.

The leading Belgian telco’s aim is to deliver a “quality mobile network” and nationwide mobile coverage to its customers across the country, and the trial is designed to support the company’s ambition to be a leading mobile network innovator.

On top of its expertise as a leading 5G player in Belgium, Proximus offers additional support, together with its affiliates, in complementary fields ranging from security and intelligent cloud solutions to artificial intelligence and the internet of things (IoT).

During a live trial at the Proximus 5G Innovation Lab in Brussels, real-life applications were used to demonstrate how a consistent customer experience could be ensured under congested network conditions.

New 5G RAN slicing functionality is designed to bring benefits to a wide range of use cases such as Industry 4.0, IoT and enterprise applications such as public safety and drone inspection, as well as virtual and augmented reality and cloud gaming. The solution is available now for trials and will be commercially available in the third quarter of 2022 for 5G standalone use cases.

The trial was performed on the Proximus 5G innovation platform using 50Mhz of spectrum in the 3,600MHz band based on Nokia’s 5G AirScale base station. It combined new advanced RAN slicing functionalities in the base station with radio software-defined networking (SDN) technology to enable the real-time management of slices and network performance.

Three devices were configured on three end-to-end slices configured respectively with 60%, 30% and 10% of available bandwidth resources. Each device reached the maximum bandwidth when connected individually and reached the assigned capacity when connected simultaneously.

Nokia’s slice-aware radio resource allocation was applied for 5G SA slices and 5G NSA traffic, complementing the capabilities already available in LTE providing continuity between 4G and 5G networks. Radio software-defined networking enabled real-time management of RAN resources, schedulers, quality of service, security, traffic isolation and routing required especially to customise a slice to the specific need of the business applications and/or use case. It can also be applied for 4G/5G slicing and edge slicing.

The trial also assigned specific radio resources per slice, complemented by further radio capabilities to reduce latency for slices with time-sensitive applications. It also highlighted how an operator could control and dynamically adapt slice parameters in general, and in particular set the radio resources per slice. Radio resource allocation technologies can be used in a radio network shared between multiple operators.

“We are delighted to have completed this network slicing trial with Nokia which will support our customers with enhanced network slicing capabilities that will keep key services running smoothly even at demanding or busy times,” said Proximus chief technology officer (CTO) Geert Standaert.

“Our advanced 5G network supports our customers’ business by enabling new kinds of services and making the network more efficient. We will continue to develop innovations and the latest applications, as our mission is to bring the opportunities of 5G to our customers.”

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