5G Core (5GC) network: Get to the core of 5G – Amantya
5G – the term inspires ideas of services supported by lightning-fast speeds and extremely low latency bringing to fore use cases such as the connected car and virtual reality, applications that were hitherto thought to be impossible to work on the mobile network.
So how does 5G enable such speeds? There have been significant improvements/innovations made on the radio interface and also helped by the harnessing of much talked about mmWave radio spectrum. But this is only part of the picture. In this article, we will be focusing on the 5G Core also known as ‘5GC’, and the important part it plays in 5G.
What is the 5G Core?
5G Core can well be defined as the brains of the 5G network. The 5GC enables reliable and secure connectivity to the network. The core also implements quality of service, enforces policy thereby, enabling service differentiation.
With the kind of use cases being envisaged for 5G, it was clear that the 5G Core needed to be ideated differently as compared to the core of previous generation communication technologies. That is exactly what happened as 3GPP started to come out with its 5G specifications with Release 15 and onwards.
With 5G Core, the architecture is called the ‘Service Based Architecture’ (SBA). The SBA is developed using cloud-native technology. Each Network Function (NF) implemented using small pieces of software called ‘microservices’. These microservices can be re-used in different NFs. NFs export a set of services and these services can be used by any application using well-defined APIs. The SBA makes the 5GC more resilient, easy to upgrade, and scale.
What makes 5G Core so exciting?
In the current scenario, with 4G networks ubiquitous, the approach is to roll out 5G NR access networks and use the 4G EPC as the core network. This approach is called the ‘Non-Standalone Mode’ (NSA). While NSA can help people get the benefit of 5G speeds quickly, it cannot completely implement the kind of high speed and low latency use cases. For that the ‘Standalone’ (SA) 5G Core is needed.
This new architecture raises the capability of the mobile network to levels not seen before and makes it possible to digitize entire industries. Some of the key impacts that the 5GC is likely to have are as follows:
- Improved User Experience: This increased throughput and lower latency in connecting to the network translates to improved user experience and enablement of next-generation use cases such as virtual reality and online gaming.
- Future Proof Network Architecture: 5GC is not just a mobile network core, it is a platform that is specifically targeted to foster innovation in creating new services. The distributed design of the core allows it to be a target architecture for connectivity across multiple verticals.
- Operationally Simple: The architecture is completely services based with APIs used to access services. This allows new network functions to be introduced with minimal disruption and changes to legacy functions. The network functions are implemented to be cloud-native. This allows two things that make the management and operations of such networks very simple. The orchestration of cloud-native function is not complex. Furthermore, the network functions can be selectively scaled depending upon needs.
- Improved Network Capabilities: The Core implements an enhanced QoS mechanism which makes it possible to exert more control over the data on the network. Network Slicing makes it possible to create virtual network slices over the same physical infrastructure to provide dedicated KPIs for specific use cases. Inherent support for Edge Computing helps realize applications that need lower latency
5G Core Deployment – Key Challenges
It is clear that in order to realize the full potential of 5G, NR and 5GC have to co-exist. For all its advantages, deploying the 5GC does come with its share of challenges. Some of the major ones are as follows:
- As with every new technology, deploying 5G Core also has associated unknowns and so extensive testing will be needed before commercial roll-outs happen. Trusted partners will be needed to facilitate such roll-outs.
- Features such as network slicing and edge computing are expected to play a pivotal role in 5G deployment. While this will benefit the end-users, it is expected to make network deployment somewhat complex.
- Virtualization of network functions brings to the mixed number of new vendors for software, hardware, and virtualization technologies. This increases the importance of interoperability testing
Offering You What You Are Looking For
- The deployment of 5GC is a foregone conclusion. With all the inherent complexities in technology and the ecosystem itself, operators will need extensive testing and validation of their network components before they can roll out commercially.
Amantya Technologies Inc. recognizes this. Amantya has developed a cloud-native Integrated Core that conforms to 3GPP standards. The Amantya Core is characterized by the following –
Amantya 5G Core helps simulate various core network scenarios as the operators work to test out devices and base stations before plugging them into their live networks.
5G is still a new technology and in order to maximize benefit from it, adopters will need to deploy both NR and 5GC in conjunction. Deploying the 5G Core is not devoid of challenges. But that is not going to deter adopters from making the most out of this transformational technology. 5G will increase the number of vendors, thereby making it a complex ecosystem and consequently enhancing the role of partnerships, integration, and testing. Adopters will need to determine their objectives before taking the plunge and forge meaningful partnerships to move forward.