Nokia, Google trial slicing service for 5G networks

Service from comms tech provider and IT giant connects smartphones to multiple network slices simultaneously

Nokia and Google have successfully tested network slice selection functionality on 4G and 5G networks, using UE Route Selection Policy (URSP) technology and Google Pixel 6 (Pro) smartphones running Android 13 which, once deployed, will enable operators to provide new 5G network slicing services and enhance the customer application experience of such devices.

An August 2022 study from ABI Research noted that of all the key user benefits expected from 5G networks, the ability to control dedicated portions of spectrum and make customised use of it has always been ranked highly, and enterprises’ willingness to pay for it is set to drive a boom in the global 5G slicing market.

Indeed, the analyst added that there was an expectation that enterprises will pay a premium for 5G slices that guarantee SLAs for diverse services, and as a result expects 5G slicing revenue to grow from US$309m in 2022 to about U$24bn in 2028, at a compound annual growth rate of 106%. 

URSP capabilities enable a smartphone to connect to multiple network slices simultaneously via different enterprise and consumer applications depending on a subscriber’s specific requirements. They are intended to extend network slicing to new types of applications and use cases, allowing network slices to be tailored based on network performance, traffic routing, latency and security.

The companies cited, as an example, an enterprise customer who could send business-sensitive information using a secure and high-performing network slice while participating in a video call using another slice at the same time.

Additionally, consumers could receive personalised network slicing services – for example, for cloud gaming or high-quality video streaming. The URSP-based network slicing service is also compatible with Nokia’s 5G radio resource allocation mechanisms, as well as slice continuity capabilities over 4G and 5G networks.

Nokia has already carried out several live network deployments and trials with its global customer base, including deployments of new slicing capabilities such as Edge Slicing in Virtual Private Networks, LTE-NSA-SA end-to-end network slicing, Fixed Wireless Access slicing, Sliced Private Wireless, and Slice Management Automation and Orchestration.

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The trial with Google took place at Nokia’s network slicing development centre in Tampere, Finland, and also included LTE-5G New Radio slice interworking functionality. This is designed to enable operators to maximally utilise existing network assets such as spectrum and coverage.

The trial was conducted using Nokia’s end-to-end 4G/5G network slicing product portfolio across RAN-transport-core, as well as related control and management systems. It included 5G network slice selection and connectivity based on enterprise and consumer application categories, as well as 5G NR-LTE slice interworking functionalities.

“New application-based URSP slicing solutions widen operators’ 5G network business opportunities,” said Ari Kynäslahti, head of technology and strategy at Nokia Mobile Networks.

“We are excited to develop and test new standards-based URSP technologies with Android that will ensure that our customers can provide leading-edge enterprise and consumer services using Android devices and Nokia’s 4G/5G networks.”

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