BT and global information and communications technology solutions provider Huawei are to undertake research into how ‘network slicing’ – a method of carving out specific ‘slices’ of an IP-based network for dedicated purposes – may be used to support services delivered over tomorrow’s 5G networks.
The announcement builds on the wide-ranging 5G collaboration agreement signed by the two companies in December 2016, and marks the first area of specific research activity for the team, based at the BT Labs in Adastral Park near Ipswich, and in other locations across the UK.
Network slicing allows specific ‘slices’ within an IP-based network to be ring-fenced for particular activities. This allows individual services to remain unaffected by bandwidth demands on the network as a whole, and to have specific policies applied to the traffic being carried over that slice – especially relevant when those services are mission-critical.
For example, in a live music event, specific 5G slices could be created for outside broadcast use, ensuring that the live TV feed from the event remains unaffected, even as thousands of people in the concert start to stream videos to friends and family over the network.
New 5G slices can also be ‘spun up’ in an agile way according to customer needs. In the above scenario, in the event of an emergency in the crowd, a new slice could be created which is dedicated to the safety control teams, allowing them to command a drone, and gain an aerial view of the incident.
“Customers are increasingly demanding converged networks that deliver a mix of flexibility, reliability and optimisation,” noted Howard Watson, CEO of Technology, Service & Operations at BT. “It’s our role to ensure that our fixed and mobile networks deliver the best possible experience for customers regardless of the demands placed on them.”
That’s why we’re excited about the possibilities of this stream of research with Huawei, and the added flexibility network slicing may offer, allowing us to better serve specific customer needs as we move towards a 5G world.”
Yang Chaobin, President of 5G Product Line from Huawei said: “There are two different ways to realize the digitalisation of society, the first one is to have dedicated infrastructure for different requirements, the second one is to have a common infrastructure serving different vertical industries, I believe the latter, which uses network slicing, will be critical to effective delivery of services and improved efficiency. Huawei is very pleased to be working with BT on investigating how to implement network slicing technologies in the UK.”