data slice

Standards body MEF is working on a standard for 5G slicing, with the goal of enabling service definitions that are consistent from one service provider to another. The idea behind 5G network slicing is to offer services with different parameters depending on the application supported.

Example applications might include autonomous vehicles, gaming, etc.

AS MEF President Nan Chen explains in a blog post, it’s important for end customers to have industry-wide standards so that “regardless of who their service providers are, they’ll be able to access the same type of slice” and “end users will have the ability to work remotely or travel “without a disruption to their quality of service.”

MEF 5G Slicing

The idea behind 5G slicing is “to carve out a subset of the end-to-end wireless and wireline network infrastructure that could carry performance objectives and, in the future, security objectives,” explains Chen. MEF sees this goal fitting well into the Lifecycle Service Orchestration (LSO) approach that has been a key focus for the organization for several years.

The hope is that service providers will use the new MEF 5G slicing standard to “structure and organize subsets of their infrastructure into network slices that can be managed, controlled and orchestrated independently from other network slice subsets,” Chen wrote.

He pointed to the example of a hypothetical enterprise buying a set of several network slices – real-time, premium or business) – and overlaying its SD-WAN performance objectives onto the slices. The end-to-end slice could tap both wireline and wireless network resources, including 5G, he said.

To support the network slicing initiative, MEF is in the process of defining profiles for end-to-end (E2E) slices such as real-time slice, premium slice or business slice.

“MEF’s E2E slicing definition will give providers the ability to deliver certain types of applications with the assurance that they will perform well – translating into satisfied end users and improved ARPU,” the blog post said.

Chen also noted that even though providers may have different names for a type of slice, “the actual E2E slice type defined by MEF would be able to deliver the same quality experience regardless of location.”

Service providers are showing considerable interest in slicing. Verizon, for example, has noted that it has pursued a programmable approach to its 5G network in order to support network slicing for customers.

According to one research firm, however, not all network slicing challenges are technology related. ABI also has argued that service providers will have to rethink how they interface with enterprise customers to be successful in offering network slices as a service.

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