Ericsson launches 5G platform with federated network slicing

Following its trial of federated network slicing with Deutsche Telekom and SK Telecom, Ericsson has launched its 5G platform combining the technology with a 5G radio system and core network.

Ericsson has announced the launch of a 5G platform combining core, radio, and transport solutions alongside digital support systems, services, and security to enable companies to adopt 5G sooner.

Calling it an "important milestone" in the journey towards 5G adoption for operators, Ericsson's platform provides an end-to-end system for carriers to evolve from 4G to 5G by combining the first version of an E2E core network capable of 5G use cases based on network slices; what it says is the market's first complete 5G radio system; and a 5G core network that can now be connected to 5G NR radio.

"With this launch, we introduce our 5G platform to support the beginning of a huge change in network capabilities, allowing our customers to offer more advanced use cases and new business models to their customers," Arun Bansal, head of Ericsson's Network Products business unit, said.

The 5G core system provides use cases based on network slicing, which segments a physical network into several virtual mobile networks and allows dedicated networks to have functionality specific to a customer or to the service being provided.

Ericsson has introduced federated network slices to the platform, which extends network slicing to be provided globally in a visited network.

It has also added network slice management, which automates and speeds up secure service connection setups; 5G policy and user data for network slices; distributed cloud for low-latency applications; and 5G transformation services, which allows migration from legacy networks to 5G virtualised, automated networks.

The networking giant's complete radio system is available across all frequency ranges, allowing for global 5G communications, and supports the new standardised 5G front-haul interface known as eCPRI, while its transport solution delivers a mini-link enabling speeds of up to 10Gbps and rail-mounted front-haul and router products in order to ensure the capacity to deliver a terabyte of data through a 5G network.

Ericsson's federated network slicing system was demonstrated earlier this week by Korean telecommunications provider SK Telecom and German carrier Deutsche Telekom, which made network slices from each telco available to the other across continents.

"Federated network slicing will enable seamless platform sharing amongst operators at a global scale for continuous and guaranteed user experience," SK Telecom CTO Alex Jinsung Choi said on Wednesday.

Ericsson first demonstrated 5G network slicing technology in partnership with SK Telecom in October 2015.

Ericsson last week also announced a "research breakthrough" in 5G network technology, saying a new silicon-based millimetreWave (mmWave) phased array integrated circuit developed in partnership with IBM Research could accelerate 5G uptake.

As part of their two-year collaboration on 5G, Ericsson and IBM developed an integrated circuit with a phased array antenna module that operates on the 28GHz spectrum band, to be used in 5G base stations. mmWave bands, portions of the electromagnetic spectrum, allow for speeds that are more than 10 times faster than the frequencies used currently for mobile devices.

"There has been a lot of encouraging progress in 5G standardisation last year, including the beginning of live field trials. Big efforts in research and development are key to this, and our collaboration with IBM Research on phased array antennas can help operators to effectively deploy radio access infrastructure necessary to support a 5G future," Thomas Noren, senior advisor for Ericsson's Network Products business unit, said last week.

"New use cases and applications that span human machine interaction, virtual reality, smart home devices, and connected cars will depend on innovative technologies that can bring the promises of faster data rates, broader bandwidth, and longer battery life to reality."

The 2.8x2.8-inch device has four monolithic integrated circuits and 64 dual-polarised antennas that allow it to be deployed in dense areas and indoors.

Ericsson and IBM also announced their successful demonstration of simultaneous dual polarisation to receive and transmit signals, which enables one of its phased array antenna modules to form two beams concurrently, thereby supporting double the end users.

Ericsson attained data transfer speeds of 3.6Gbps on connected cars travelling at 170km/h in partnership with SK Telecom and BMW earlier this month, and achieved download speeds of between 18Gbps and 22Gbps during the first live trial of 5G in Australia with Telstra last year.

The speeds were split between two mobile devices, with each one getting around 10Gbps download speeds thanks to the use of Massive Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output (MIMO), which sends multiple channels of data at the same time, allowing users to have peak performances simultaneously.

In addition, a moving vehicle achieved download speeds of between 1Gbps and 6Gbps thanks to the use of beamforming technology, in which antenna arrays steer a beam to where a user is.

Ericsson will conduct a trial run of Telstra's 5G network during the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast, with Telstra's team of network engineers temporarily transferred to Ericsson's Sweden-based research lab as part of the deal.

According to Ericsson's forecasts, 5G will constitute a $582 billion opportunity for telecommunications operators globally, particularly across the manufacturing and energy/utilities sectors.