Network architecture for the 5G era
Requirements and challenges:
Networks in the 5G era must not only dramatically increase performance but also achieve in-depth convergence with a diverse range of vertical industries.
5G mobile networks will focus on the customer experience and must be built around user needs. The value of networks will lay in the experience of using them. One of the key challenges facing the industry is updating the legacy network architecture to support this higher performance while enabling quick and easy set-up and modification.
5G networks should be able to support a variety of applications.
Defining the architecture
5G network architecture has three characteristics:
- Open (a triple-layered network)
- Flexible (a software-defined network with slicing)
- Scalable (with data centre network deployment)
A 5G network should be an open, flexible and scalable platform. With this in mind, virtualisation enables the decoupling of software and hardware; modularisation can create a more flexible network infrastructure; and cloud management can seamlessly integrate the management and deployment of resources.
- A 5G network is an open layered platform. From top to bottom, the network consists of an infrastructure layer, a service enablement layer and a business application layer which provides IaaS, PaaS, NaaS and DaaS services. The layered network makes it easy to decouple data and the applications that use it and provides an open interface to applications.
- A 5G network is a flexible platform. All physical resources needed to implement any network element are virtualized and offered as a service through the infrastructure layer. The service enablement layer provides Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) while the application layer enables the slicing of network resources.
- A 5G network is a scalable platform deployed through data centres. The data centre management and orchestration module (MANO) can schedule network resources and deploy network functions via cloud technology.