A digital transformation brought about through the power of connectivity is taking place in almost every industry. This transformation sets the scene for the next generation of wireless access – 5G – systems that are set for commercial availability sometime around 2020. How will future networks cope with massively varied demands and a business landscape that will be significantly different from today’s?

Through the ability to share information, people and companies are collaborating more, creating solutions that combine many different areas of expertise and overturning traditional business models. Thinking back just a few years – before smartphones became a mass-market product – shows how dramatic this transformation has been. Looking forward, it is clear that the demands of the use cases projected for 2020, such as remote machinery and intelligent transportation, will require new types of connectivity.

Networks will need to provide connectivity in a way that is both highly scalable and programmable – in terms of speed, capacity, security, reliability, availability, latency and impact on battery life.

Traditional cellular networks and their one-size-fits-all approach therefore need to be adapted so that future demands, many different subscriber types and varying app usage can not only be met, but delivered efficiently.

To meet the needs of such widely varied use cases, 5G systems will be built with technologies that use logical instead of physical resources, and which enable operators to provide networks on an as-a-service basis: the network slice.

While the concept of network slices is not new, the wide range of use cases and tougher requirements that future networks will need to support suggest that network slices in the context of 5G will be defined on a whole new level – as networks on demand.


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