Next-generation 5G networks will cater for a wide range of new business opportunities, some of which have yet to be conceptualized. They will provide support for advanced mobile broadband services such as massive media distribution. Applications like remote operation of machinery, telesurgery, and smart metering all require connectivity, but with vastly different characteristics. The ability to provide customized connectivity will benefit many industries around the world, enabling them to bring new products and services to market rapidly, and adapt to fast-changing demands, all while continuing to offer and expand existing services. But how will future networks provide people and enterprises with the right platform, with just the right level of connectivity?

The answer: flexibility. The ict world has already started the journey to delivering elastic connectivity. Technologies like sdn and virtualization are enabling a drastic change to take place in network architecture, allowing traditional structures to be broken down into customizable elements that can be chained together programmatically to provide just the right level of connectivity, with each element running on the architecture of its choice. This is the concept of network slicing that will enable core networks to be built in a way that maximizes flexibility.

As we move deeper into the Networked Society, with billions of connected devices, lots of new application scenarios, and many more services, the business potential for service providers is expanding rapidly. And 5G technologies will provide the key to tap into this potential, ensuring that customized communication can be delivered to any industry.

Being able to deliver the wide variety of network performance characteristics that future services will demand is one of the primary technical challenges faced by service providers today. The performance requirements placed on the network will demand connectivity in terms of data rate, latency, qos, security, availability, and many other parameters — all of which will vary from one service to the next. But future services also present a business challenge: average revenues will differ significantly from one service to the next, and so flexibility in balancing cost-optimized implementations with those that are performance-optimized will be crucial to profitability.

In addition to the complex performance and business challenges, the 5G environment presents new challenges in terms of timing and agility. The time it takes to get new features into the network, and time to put services into the hands of users need to be minimized, and so tools that enable fast feature introduction are a prerequisite.

Above all, overcoming the challenges requires a dynamic 5G core network.

But how do you build the core to be a dynamic, virtualized provider of customized connectivity? An important first step is a high-level vision for the 5G core network. The network architecture that meets the objectives then needs to be defined, and finally the whole concept needs to be tested using various possible deployments of the architecture.

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