5G Network Exposure Function – An Overview

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5G Network Exposure Function – An Overview

As 5G connectivity gains ground worldwide, it unlocks various new service capabilities that can boost business processes and productivity. 5G Network Exposure Function (NEF) is among the fundamental capabilities natively built-in in the 5G network. It allows carriers to securely handle valuable data coming from Application Functions (AF) and enables optimal allocation and utilization of resources. NEF provides signaling scenarios to allow a controlled and secure way of exchanging information to and from an external application. 

What is 5G Network Exposure Function?

As the telecommunications landscape transitions from 4G to 5G, one is witnessing a significant technical transition from hardware/virtualization-focused services to robust cloud-native services. This has increased network complexity and introduced new and highly evolved 5G network capabilities like Network Exposure Function.

NEF is built natively into the 5G network. It facilitates secure, flexible, and developer-friendly network services and capabilities exposure to third-party end users, such as business partners, clients, and developers. Compliant with 3GPP standards, NEF creates a programmable environment where the developers can subscribe to specific changes in the network to create a new service logic by introducing new APIs on top of the standard applications to provide new innovative services to the end users.


Key Features of Network Exposure Function

5G NEF is applicable in various scenarios and can be deployed in any hybrid or multi-cloud environment when targeting a service. Additionally, it has the unique and expansive experience of building cloud-native microservices using the 5G core network functions that can be tailored to offer quick and hassle-free deployments and activations. Among its key features are:

  • Service-Based Architecture: Explicitly designed as part of the Core SBA on 5G topology. Users can employ external/third-party APIs to communicate with 5G core.
  • Open Interface: Extends multivendor views by externalizing network or service capabilities by allowing users to plug in multivendor APIs.
  • Secure API Exposure: Offers easy, safe, and scalable exposure to the information control points and events of the network functions used in the service provider’s network.
  • Enhances 5G Monetization & Next-gen Services: Strengthens end-to-end solutions, such as Private Mobile Networks and Network Slicing.
  • Advanced Developmental Portal: Provides detailed catalogs, templates, documentation, and Software Development Kits (SDKs).


NEF - Key Functionalities

The Network Exposure Function supports the following functionalities:

  • Securely exposes 3GPP Network Function (NF) events and capabilities, like Application Function (AF), Edge Computing, etc.
  • Stores and retrieves information as structured data using a standardized interface to the Unified Data Repository (UDR)
  • Enables external applications (AFs) to provide information to the 3GPP network securely
  • Translates internal-external information exchange of AF and internal network function with other 5G Core Network operations
  • Provides a proxy filter for network and user-sensitive information from external AFs according to network policy
  • Guarantees scalability by employing Restful APIs that facilitate the network of service capability exposure and alignment with standards
  • Deepens 5G ecosystem by increasing 5G-based collaboration with CSPs, partners, enterprises, hyperscalers, and metaverse ecosystems


Top Benefits of Using NEF

  • Quick and Simplified Internal Service Innovation: streamlines and simplifies access to evolving core features, allowing for rapid innovations and new service/feature creation, launch, and operations.
  • Fastrack Partner-Based Innovation: among its critical attributes, NEF enables trusted partners to securely access and reap the benefits of 5G to accelerate the launch of new services.
  • Easy Integration: NEF can be easily deployed independently or adjacent to other solutions, allowing one to maximize opportunities based on the evolution stage.
  • Multi-Cloud Experience & Multi-Deployment Options: NEF supports multiple cloud partners, ensuring the best cloud-deployment experience.
  • Higher Adaptability: NEF’s cloud-native and microservices-based architecture provides enhanced flexibility, control over operations, and a future-proof approach.

Summing Up

5G NEF makes the 5GC function standardized, significantly facilitating the third party's access. It allows secure network exposure to external and internal development teams, ensuring a quick, controlled, automatic service launch. NEF enables third-party developers and businesses to create and tailor their specialized network services on-demand, helping drive service innovation with and through an extended ecosystem.


Want to know more about how you can leverage the benefits of 5G NEF for your business? Get in touch. Our 5G team will be happy to assist you.