A fun collaboration! Intrigued to see where it’ll go.

During the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Telefónica and Huawei jointly demonstrated the industry’s first VR service using 5G end-to-end (E2E) network slicing technology. The demonstration offered visitors the opportunity to enjoy the ultimate immersive 5G interaction experience. Interactive VR will be introduced to gaming, education, entertainment, e-Health, industry design etc., which will bring new business opportunities to operators.

This demonstration used 5G E2E networks, including the access network, core network, transport network, and terminals. This test provided evidence of how 5G network slicing can enable on-demand diversified services and ensure large bandwidth and low latency, thus helping operators to achieve 5G business success. This demonstration represented the latest achievement in 5G key technology verification and use case research, marking another significant milestone of the two parties’ continued joint innovation and strategic cooperation.

Network slicing is considered as a critical enabling technology for operators to provide tailor-made services and construct a service-guaranteed network architecture. With network slicing, operators can perform on-demand isolation of network resources over a shared physical infrastructure to provide differentiated and quality-guaranteed network services for many different vertical industries.

Huawei 5G E2E network slicing incorporates a service-oriented network architecture, network function modularization, and control- and user-plane separation.. This innovative slicing technology helps open up the possibility for a single physical network to support multiple industry applications. This demonstration used Huawei E2E 5G pre-commercial products, including base stations, core network, transport network, and customer premise equipment (CPE, the wireless device located at the customer’s premises). The results of the field test boost 1.5 Gbps data rate and guaranteed E2E latency of 4 ms.

The 5G base stations adopt Huawei SingleRAN hardware and software architecture and are designed in accordance with 3GPP 5G New Radio (NR) standards. Operating on the 3.7 GHz band, these base stations feature Massive MIMO and beamforming technologies, while supporting 64 radio frequency channels and 24 streams. Various 5G NR technologies in terms of coding, frame structures, numerology, and waveforms (F-OFDM) are also integrated in these base stations, to addresses different SLA requirements of bandwidth, latency, reliability for different services.

The 5G core network is deployed over the Telefónica UNICA infrastructure. The virtualized 4G evolved packet core (vEPC) is reused, which is a further proof of its smooth evolution capabilities. 5G core network is based on the Service Based Architecture (SBA) architecture, which allows each service logic to be independently deployed and upgraded. This significantly expedites new service provisioning and network evolution, while boosting operation agility. Microservice modules can then be flexibly combined to form different network capabilities to address diverse service needs. 5G core network features control- and user-plane separation. The control plane is deployed in a centralized data center to improve signaling efficiency, and the user plane is deployed in the data center at the edge of the network for rapid local service provisioning. The 5G core network also employs Multi-Access Edge Computing to reduce service latency, by locating the application servers at the edge hence allowing very fast service response to the customer’s demands.

The 5G transport network leverages on new link and network protocols for simpler, more flexible, and more efficient connections. It uses the PAM4-based cost-effective 50 GE port, reducing the 5G network construction costs. Flexible Ethernet (FlexE) provides network slicing isolation, ensuring quality of differentiated services. Other network protocols, like SR or EVPN will also help to provide a unified service bearer model.

This demonstration also features the world’s first 5G commercial CPE. This CPE is based on the 3GPP standards and chip architecture with compact design, low power consumption, and high portability.

Enrique Blanco, Telefónica’s Global CTIO remarked: “5G technological development has entered a new stage. Telefónica and Huawei will continue to step up innovation in both technologies and applications. The 5G Joint Innovation Lab is a great platform for in-depth cooperation on 5G E2E network architecture and slicing. These combined efforts will serve as a solid foundation for 5G’s commercial launch.”

“The diital transformation of the entire industry is accelerating. The development of 5G network slicing technologies and applications will promote integration between industries and create new business models,” commented Edward Deng, President of Huawei Wireless Network Product Line. “Huawei is committed to developing and innovating 5G E2E network slicing technologies. We are also keen to work with operators and third-party players from vertical industries to embrace the new era of 5G.”

During the past few years, Telefónica and Huawei have teamed up for E2E cooperation and innovation across various fields via Joint Innovation Centers, 5G Joint Innovation Lab, and TechCity. In December 2017, Telefónica and Huawei jointly signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on 5G E2E network architecture. The two parties will partner to seek further innovations in 5G E2E architecture and use cases, such as 5G target network, network slicing, and high-bandwidth and low-latency applications.

Tom Ffiske
Twitter: @TomFfiske