Telenor completes multi-vendor test of fast 5G network slicing

You’ve probably heard a lot about 5G network slicing already. Let’s face it, we’ve all heard a whole lot about the virtues of network slicing — it's one of the key constituents of the 5G hype cycle since the cellular standard started to be deployed in 2019.

The network arrangement that enables multiple virtual slices to be created on top of a common physical infrastructure is one of the key features that will be allowed by pure standalone (SA) 5G. It has been marketed as a boon for enterprises and a revenue generator for mobile operators.

Well, as Silverlinings has already noted, there aren’t many operators that offer network slicing yet. Telstra in Australia is one of the only ones we’ve come across so far.

But, good news! We have another to add to our list. Telenor has just done a multi-vendor test of fast network slicing. The operator used software from Enea, as well as Oracle and Casa Systems. The test incorporated hardware from HPE, Intel and Nokia.

Enea’s chief marketing officer Stephanie Huf told us that Enea supplied a set of 5G SA core functions, namely unified data management (UDM), unified data repository (UDR) and the authentication server function (AUSF) for the trial. “We also play an important role in the end-to-end service integration, together with other partners to Telenor,” she told us via email. 

We also reached out to Oracle about their potential part in this trial, but the company said they didn’t have any additional information to share.

Jens Patrick Waldemar, head of next generation technology at Telenor Research told us that the trial is still in the lab. “That is in our ‘non-commercial test infrastructure," he said, adding that Telenor still doesn’t offer any commercial network slicing.

“These sorts of trials are important to making network slicing more consumable,” Gabriel Brown, senior principal analyst, mobile networks and 5G for Omdia, told us over email. “Telenor Group makes a lot of effort to engage vertical enterprises to understand precisely what they need and when they want it. The operator is also very clear that it needs to see customer demand before moving forward with slicing at commercial scale. So, the move from trial to full commercial offer probably won't be a straight jump. Expect a phased introduction of network slicing,” he added.

What the app?

Enea’s Huf, however, did have some thoughts on what types of applications would be eventually be commercially enabled by network slicing. “Beyond this specific project, from Enea’s perspective we consider slicing to be a highly relevant functionality that is enabled with 5G standalone particularly in situations where a higher quality of service is needed on demand,” she told us.

“Some industries and scenarios that benefit from the ability to spin up a slice quickly include emergency services where you may need to stream real-time crisis or medical data at high quality from remote locations or while on the move, for example from an ambulance. The media industry would have a similar demand when needing to transmit video feeds from various locations depending on where news is breaking," she added.

"Industries with heavy machinery that can be controlled remotely or that have demanding safety needs such as mining. Otherwise requirements for quality on demand can be for over the air upgrades for critical assets, such as vehicles, or in a consumer context there may be gaming segments where users may wish to call up a higher quality of service,” Huf concluded.

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