As mentioned in the previous blog in this series, the results here forth reported are based upon an independent study of service providers conducted by ACG Research for ECI. The first blog looked at the general attitudes and beliefs of the audience toward 5G. This blog will look at their interest in and attitudes towards network slicing and orchestration.
Respondents believe that network slicing will be rolled out only a year (52%) or sometimes up to 2 years (44%) after 5G is commercially made available.
This is not only in line with the obvious complexity of deploying network slicing. It also recognizes the fact that network slicing will require new equipment, which in some cases (if not most cases), is not readily available at this time.
Respondents were asked as to the importance of network slicing to the different types of 5G services. The results took us by surprise:
As mentioned, the results were not at all in line with our expectations. According to the survey, network slicing is very important to all types of 5G services, including fixed wireless and eMBB. Services that, for the most part, can be supported with the implementation of the 5G New Radio (NR) over current LTE infrastructures.
However, once network slicing is implemented, it will support all types of services on different, sometimes multiple, slices. So perhaps respondents were talking out of belief, that network slicing was an ‘all or nothing’ technology, or perhaps the understanding of network slicing is different than what we thought, here at ECI.
Regardless, bottom line, network slicing is important for all types of 5G services. Service providers in EMEA rated the importance of slicing for uRLLC and mMTC slightly higher than those from other geographies.
As can be seen in the below chart, respondents note that their company is likely to implement a number of different technologies for network slicing. There is no one ‘killer technology’ that all will use. Rather network slicing will incorporate a mix of technologies, and both hard and soft slicing, all depending on the carrier’s network design and purpose.
Interestingly, the proclivity towards layer 3 VPNs and EVPNs seems a tad higher than others, at least for first place. And yet, OTN slicing was ranked second and third by nearly 40% of respondents.
When asked which slicing technologies their company was currently testing, respondents named a variety of technologies. Obviously, those technologies which are a bit more mature such as segment routing and Layer 3 VPNs were mentioned more often than those technologies which are still early in terms of commercial availability, such as FlexE.
As we know, in some cases it is expected that the 5G transport network will incorporate networks from 3rd parties, such as wholesale providers. When asked how they expect to be able to control and manage third party transport, the respondents believe that in the vast majority of cases, the wholesale provider will define APIs. About a quarter believe the mobile provider will define the APIs.
70% of respondents report that they plan to deploy unified, multi-domain orchestration as part of their 5G RAN, 5G packet core and 5G transport solution. Less than 25% report they intend to use multiple, single domain orchestrators.
This outcome is in line with ECI expectations, due to the complexity of 5G services and the need for absolute service assurance. Yet what was perhaps a bit surprising is that almost half of the respondents note that they expect to evolve their current orchestration solution to their 5G requirements. This perhaps is the result of various bespoke orchestration solutions in existence.
That said, about 30% mentioned that they are looking into an open-source orchestration solution. The vast majority stating that ONAP is the orchestrator of choice.
This concludes this survey review.
For ECI the survey findings reinforced our multi-technology slicing, full access-to-core 5G solution strategy. Early 2018, ECI launched its dynamic, intelligent 5G solution including advanced technologies like slicing, segment routing (SR) and FlexE (Flex Ethernet). Moreover, the company has been active in demonstrating advanced technology capabilities, such as segment routing (SR) and FlexE, in labs, at industry showcases and at customer PoCs (proof of concepts).
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Sigal Biran-Nagar is Sr. Director of Corporate Marketing at ECI. Sigal comes to ECI with a strong record of marketing, strategy and communications for both global and local conglomerates.