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SK Telecom shows 5G software-defined network management

5G networking promises significantly more mobile bandwidth than 4G today

South Korean telco SK Telecom revealed how 5G network monitoring could look during the OpenStack Summit in Tokyo. 

The company, which recently launched a 300Mbps LTE-A service, plans to use OpenStack to run a software-defined network (SDN) for 5G.

Speaking during the second day keynote at the summit, SK Telecom senior vice-president of research and development Kang Wong Lee said: "Our aim is to deliver 5G, which will provide one hundred to one thousand times the speed with far less latency and the ability to connect more devices."

The telco expects 5G will power new mobile application areas such as the internet of things (IoT) and rich media such as 360-degree high-definition video for new forms of entertainment.

"It is believed 5G will be much more flexible and interoperable," said Lee.

From a telco perspective, he said some of the emerging applications – such as in public safety and medical domains – will require different levels of network quality of service.

To support this, SK Telcom has been looking at SDN and network function virtualisation (NFV) using OpenStack. "Using network slicing we can carve out a virtual network slice for specific applications," Lee explained.

He added that SK Telecom developed "an all-IT network infrastructure".

In most telco networks, physical hardware is used to operate voice and data services on the mobile network. But, Lee said: "In 5G, all access and core networks will be on an all-IT core software-defined datacentre using SDN and NFV based on OpenStack."

By using OpenStack, the network becomes programmable, Lee added. "We can program the network to handle different network traffic and provision and scale network as new demand arrives on the fly," he said

One of the challenges faced in making the network software-based is how to manage it. Among the work SK Telecom has done in software-defined network administration is a console which uses 3D visualisation to show traffic flow and bottlenecks. The company plan to have its OpenStack-based 5G network ready by 2018.

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