Ericsson launches commercial 5G RAN slicing

Ericsson has launched a commercial 5G network slicing product for radio access networks (RAN). The Swedish company says its 5G RAN Slicing allocates radio resources based on dynamic partitioning, which delivers 1 millisecond scheduling.

The RAN slicing technology is an important element for end-to-end network slicing, which must work across the core, RAN, edge and transport networks to provide a dedicated slice that can be offered to service providers or enterprise customers.

The hope is that network slicing will unlock some revenue opportunities from 5G, something the industry hasn’t seen much of from consumer mobile connections.

Possible network slicing target markets include in-car connectivity, industrial networks and healthcare.

Ericsson says it already has ongoing 5G network slicing engagements across the globe involving use cases for the consumer segment and industry verticals such as video-assisted remote surgery, media for sports-event streaming, cloud gaming, smart cities and applications for public safety.

Per Narvinger, Ericsson’s head of product area networks, said in a statement, “Ericsson 5G RAN Slicing dynamically optimizes radio resources. What makes our solution distinct is that it boosts end-to-end management and orchestration support for fast and efficient service delivery.” 

Ericsson didn’t confirm the names of any service providers that are using its network slicing, but it did provide quotes from some operators, which is an indication that they’re using Ericsson’s technology.

Toshikazu Yokai, chief director of mobile technology at KDDI, said: “End-to-end slicing is key to monetizing 5G investment, and RAN slicing will help make that happen.”

In December 2020, KDDI said it will use Ericsson’s cloud-native, dual-mode 5G core to launch standalone 5G services in its network in Japan.

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Swisscom’s head of mobile and mass market communications Mark Düsener said today: “We’re gearing up for the next stage of 5G where we expect to apply end-to-end network slicing…. We will be able to provide communications for diverse 5G applications such as public safety or mobile private networks."

Ericsson’s biggest competitor, Nokia, is also forging ahead with network slicing. In October 2020, Nokia announced it had added new automation capabilities for 4G and 5G network slicing, aimed at speeding up the time it takes for operators to deliver services and create or change slices.

The GSMA predicts the addressable market for network slicing in the enterprise segment will hit $300 billion by 2025. 

In order to make network slicing work, operators will also need to address it within their transport networks. 

In late 2020, Dish Wireless Chief Network Officer Marc Rouanne said Dish has a big advantage because it’s building a greenfield network, so it can incorporate network slicing technologies right from the get-go. Dish is working with Ciena’s Blue Planet for its inventory management and service-order fulfillment software to help Dish advance its network slicing ambitions.