ETSI launches OpenSlice group to deliver mobile network slicing as a service

Association for ICT development, ratification and testing of standards introduces software development group for dedicated portions of mobile networks

With deployment of 5G standalone (SA) networks increasing, one of the key applications for their use is private networking, making use of the fundamental technological basis of 5G SA to offer dedicated portions of networks for individual businesses. Reacting to this increased demand, ICT trade association ETSI has announced the establishment of its first software development group (SDG), to be known as OpenSlice, to position itself as a focal point for development and experimentation with network slicing.

Officially recognised by the EU as a European Standardisation Organisation (ESO), ETSI exists to provide members with an open and inclusive environment to support the development, ratification and testing of globally applicable standards for ICT systems and services across all sectors of industry and society. It currently has more than 900 member organisations worldwide, drawn from over 60 countries and five continents, spanning large and small private companies; research entities; academia; and government and public organisations.

Network slicing is regarded as offering exciting potential in a number of industry use cases for two reasons. First, it offers a minimum upload speed threshold that can be set to guarantee data, no matter how large, is uploaded quickly and reliably. Second, it potentially removes the risk of network congestion.

ETSI OpenSlice is developed using ETSI Zero touch network & Service Management (ETSI ZSM) principles, implementing the ETSI Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) data model and application programming interfaces (APIs). ETSI OpenSlice builds on code seeds developed by European Research.

OpenSlice will aim to create an open source, service-based operations support system (OSS) to deliver network slicing as a service (NSaaS) in alignment with specifications from leading standards development organisations, including 3GPP, TM Forum and mobile industry trade association the GSMA.

“The launch of SDG OpenSlice marks a significant milestone for ETSI and the wider telecommunications industry. Collaboration among software development and standardisation groups will foster the early validation of the latest technologies and accelerate the time to market of next-generation networks,” said ETSI director general Luis Jorge Romero.

The kick-off meeting of SDG OpenSlice will be held in Castelldefels, Barcelona, in October 2023. The founding members of the group include OpenSlice Centre Tecnològic de Telecomunicacions de Catalunya (CTTC), Instituto de Telecomunicações, Telefónica SA, the University of Murcia and the University of Patras. They have already been joined by K3Y Ltd, Odin Solutions S.L. and Ubitech.

“ETSI SDG OpenSlice will revolutionise the way network slicing is delivered,” said Christos Tranoris, University of Patras, convenor of ETSI SDG OpenSlice. “We are excited about the impact this collaborative effort will have on the telecommunications landscape, advancing the adoption of NSaaS, ensuring the interoperability and seamless integration of network slicing technologies.”

As part of ETSI’s broader efforts in future networks, OpenSlice joins forces with Open Source MANO and TeraFlowSDN to enrich the suite of ETSI open source components. This framework is designed to facilitate experimentation, proofs-of-concept, integration and testing, delivering valuable early and regular feedback to the standardisation process.

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