5G SlaaS (slice as a service) presents an opportunity for non-telco businesses and organizations.
If you are a non-telco entity – an enterprise, a private network owner, a public safety agency, a utility, a transportation company, a municipality, an educational institution, an industrial concern, etc. etc. – the 5G revolution is on its way to you.
Because 5G is not just another mobile communications generation or technology.
5G, as discussed in previous posts, is a common architecture for many use cases – from basic mobile and fixed broadband connectivity through massive IoT up to mission-critical applications.
The fact that 5G architecture can orchestrate those services via network slicing creates an opportunity for many non-telco businesses and organizations to harness 5G network slicing to their diverse needs.
5G SlaaS (slice as a service) – your virtual network
5G network slicing takes virtual networking to a new level. Past VPNs were based on encapsulated and encrypted traffic over a shared infrastructure, or various types of semi-physical network resource virtualization. 5G network slicing extends those capacities and creates physical-like, true end-to-end (CPE to CPE) virtualization of network resources.
Thanks to 5G NR phy-level network slicing capabilities, 5G slices provide the reach and QoS of a stand-alone physical network. This is used, first and foremost, for separation between best-effort and mission-critical traffic use cases in the 5G network itself – i.e. a slice for eMBB & FWA, one for URLLC, one for mMTC, and one for management. But it can also serve as a network infrastructure for a single customer such as a large enterprise or any other multi-site organization.
5G network slice as a service (SlaaS) not only changes the way such organizations build their connectivity, it can also increase their productivity and allow them to meet their goals (business or otherwise) with less effort.
Let’s examine some use cases for 5G SlaaS.
- The virtual branch office – wherever you are
Intra-branch connectivity is currently handled differently than remote access to the organization’s IT infrastructure. While intra-office traffic runs through some dedicated connections (typically based on VPN or SD-WAN), remote access is achieved ad-hoc with systems that authenticate and grant access to a single device used by a remote worker.
5G SlaaS can change this paradigm. It creates a network with connections that are continuous, secure, and with guaranteed QoS. Those connections link not only all the sites/branches of the organization, but also the micro-networks based on each worker’s end device. This extends the reach of the organization’s network, flattens it out, and, most importantly, improves organizational productivity.
- Ubiquitous and scalable IoT infrastructure
IoT and IIoT are becoming predominant when it comes to data collection, big data analysis, and large-scale automation. The fact that common 5G infrastructure can provide an IoT SlaaS takes the burden of deploying a dedicated network off organizations that want to leverage IoT but are blocked by their inability to deploy scalable IoT networks.
IoT applications can vary from smart city applications (such as safe city, municipal operations optimization, better living and monetization applications) to industrial applications such as Industry 4.0 (smart factories, remote operations, autonomous systems, etc.). These IoT applications require specific network metrics such as coverage, power efficiency and security. 5G SlaaS, providing all of those in a scalable and cost-efficient manner, could boost the use of IoT and, again, allow such organizations to achieve their goals faster and with less resources.
- The unified critical infrastructure network
Critical infrastructure operators – such as utilities, public safety/defense organizations, transportation companies, etc. – typically build their own networks. Examples include a public safety organization seeking to modernize its TETRA/P25 or analog network, a transportation operator with an old GSM-R network that does not answer modern operations and infotainment requirements, or a utility company introducing smart grid applications, automatic meter reading and substation remote operations.
Those use cases are usually covered by a private network operated by mission-critical organizations. This is despite the fact that those organizations usually lack the focus and know-how in the networking realm. The combination of strict availability and security requirements along with unique connectivity architectures forces them to spend time, money and focus on building and maintaining those private networks.
With 5G SlaaS, those unique requirements could be answered, for the first time, by an external network, allowing them to focus on their core mission while leveraging the economy of scale and expertise of external network operators.
To conclude, much like in many other XaaS trends, 5G network SlaaS enables the leveraging of an external infrastructure that provides all the requirements for your organization with an “in-house look and feel.” This makes 5G networks, and specifically 5G network SlaaS, a unique opportunity for any non-telco organization with any communications need to change the way it works by simplifying its operations, increasing its productivity and achieving its goals, all while spending less.
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