How advanced charging use cases accelerate 5G monetization

How advanced charging use cases accelerate 5G monetization

How advanced charging use cases accelerate 5G monetization

 

April 27, 2021

 

 

 

Why 5G demands new charging capabilities  

5G’s transformative features such as low latency, ultrafast speeds, and high bandwidth open a world of opportunities for consumer and industry applications. Its ability to support massive volumes – according to Statista, 50 billion internet of things (IoT) connected devices are expected to be in use by 2030 – also unlocks the full potential of the Internet of Things (IoT). An operator’s charging capabilities thus assume a pivotal role, ensuring all 5G services are fully monetizable using modern and advanced charging use cases.

The charging engines many operators use today were designed for networks like 3G and LTE. These previous generations did not have the network scalability and performance needs of 5G, and are unable to support the advanced monetization capabilities that 5G use cases require to accurately charge across a large number of services, devices, and different event types. This demands fundamental changes to the underlying monetization architecture, taking a service-based approach, much like the 5G core network itself.

How next-gen charging capabilities work

Implementing next-gen charging and policy control functions of the 5G core enables operators to truly harness the monetization potential of 5G. The Charging Function (CHF) enables operators to charge for everything, supporting models for multiple parties (for instance, B2B2X models), helps implement RESTful processes, and enables real-time charging on various types of events. The Policy Control Function (PCF) enables end-to-end policy management, implements slice-based policies for highly specific applications, supports innovation and enrichment through service exposure, and offers advanced analytics for improved services. 

In recent years, more and more operators have implemented converged charging for all their services, which is also part of the 3GPP Release 15 standard. The CHF has been functionally and architecturally restructured for 5G versus its legacy OCS counterpart. Supporting both online as well as offline charging, it is crucial to enabling 5G service providers to swiftly respond to evolving customer demands and introducing new and innovative services that can be charged. It implements network integrations that are formulated in keeping with service-based architecture, enabling next-gen monetization opportunities, employing cloud-based and containerized technology, enabling more automation, agility, flexibility, and minimizing revenue leaks.

Through network slicing, 5G operators can provide “slices” or smaller dedicated parts of their networks to customers, dedicating resources depending on the SLA to focus on speed, latency, capacity, and so on, supporting use cases such as smart buildings, smart offices, private campus networks, connected vehicles, and much more, all of which require charging support. Plus, 5G works on microservices-based infrastructure that helps deliver ultra-low latency, and to enable this, previously centralized charging components will now need to be more distributed and move closer to the network edge. So, 5G charging systems are required to support various new types of services like API calls, tiered QoS plans, edge computing capacity, and more. 

Modern and scalable convergent charging systems assume particular relevance for enterprises, enabling a gamut of new-age applications to help businesses differentiate themselves while swiftly unlocking these new revenue streamsIn the coming years, as 5G standalone deployments become more widespread, converged charging is expected to be more widely implemented.

5G charging use cases

5G supports a wide range of B2B, B2C, as well as B2B2X services, and thus demands charging use cases that help ensure zero revenue leakage across services. These include charging based on:

Slices

Network slicing is a key 5G use case and is integral to 5G charging. Most devices today have the same bandwidth and service levels, but network slicing creates new charging opportunities by enabling the segregation of network resources. Operators can provide slices to cater to a wide range of customer requirements, offering endless possibilities for revenue streams. Using flexible charging models, operators can monetize these slices for both direct consumers as well as the enterprise. Operators can offer various granular and personalized services to consumers on different slices. And for the enterprise customer, operators can offer models for different needs like IoT-connected devices and equipment, for its employees, its customers, special events, field tests and trials, and so on, for which unique policy and charging rules can be defined.

Network slices can be created based on various criteria, some of which include:

QoS tiers

Operators can charge subscribers based on the Quality of Service (QoS) they have signed up for. This is particularly relevant for industrial and enterprise applications, empowering the enterprise to define granular metrics such as latency, data rate, capacity, mobility, security, throughput, response time, level of service, and more.

SLA-based services

Network slices are designed to serve individual customer needs, for metrics including system capacity, user experience, energy consumption, coverage, latency, and more. The Service Level Agreement (SLA) will be defined based on the level of service a customer expects from each slice. 5G charging systems enable operators to dynamically scale pricing, define policy rules for specific devices, and much more, enabling them to offer more specific SLAs.

Platform use (PaaS)

Operators can build their own platforms and use open APIs to share and charge for their network and IT infrastructure with platform providers or developers who can use cloud infrastructure to deploy applications. The customer has control over the application, but the operator controls the underlying infrastructure.

Software use (SaaS)

In this case, the operator can charge for applications that it runs on the cloud and provides to consumers. The operator controls and manages both the infrastructure as well as the application and can charge on different events like time or usage.

Infrastructure use (IaaS)

Service providers can partner with enterprises to share their infrastructure and/or applications, granting the enterprise control over this infrastructure while charging for its use. This is especially useful for smaller enterprises who do not want to invest in their own infrastructure but are in need of a secure and private network. 

Digital ecosystems

Operators can set up digital ecosystems or marketplaces to provide a platform that connects producers and providers of goods and services with consumers, forging partnerships with these providers to monetize the service. Here, operators have the added advantage of having access to advanced data and analytics tools that help them segregate customers, run targeted campaigns, and more.

Real-time performance

5G’s ultrafast speeds, stable connectivity, and low latency enable real-time applications, including multimedia like augmented reality, virtual reality, and gaming. Operators can define charging based on real-time performance for these applications.

Benefits of next-gen charging systems 

5G charging engines offer a host of benefits to operators, enabling them to swiftly adapt to dynamic market needs. Some of these include:

Handle advanced 5G use cases 

With the rapid increase in the number of devices connected to the network, 5G charging systems must handle an unprecedented amount of traffic and charge for the endless application possibilities of next-gen networks. 3GPP has defined a host of possibilities for the 5G charging ecosystem, introducing elements in the 5G core that are unavailable in legacy charging systems. The PCF serves as a unified platform to govern the implementation of policy and charging rules. The Session Management Function enables operators to seamlessly implement session charging between devices, so they can efficiently charge users when they use different devices for the same service, for instance, like watching a movie. And other network functions, such as the Network Exposure Function (NEF), Access and Mobility Management Function (AMF), and Network Slice Management, equip operators to gather essential device and location data, implement slice-based charging, enable multiple flexible charging scenarios, facilitate operators and enterprises to share session information, allow granular charging based on advanced analytics, and more.

Develop diverse partnerships

5G charging capabilities include support for multiple business partners on a single platform, enabling operators’ business and marketing teams to easily and dynamically forge innovative partnerships to monetize B2B2X, B2B, B2C, wholesale, and IoT services.

Enhance customer experience

By making a host of advanced use cases fully monetizable, 5G charging paves the way for innovation, boosting CX, improving brand differentiation, and ensuring customer loyalty.

High return on investment

Advanced charging helps open new revenue streams as well as secure the revenue potential of existing services, maximizing ROI.

Improve business agility

Operators can effortlessly launch new plans and promotions, automate transaction processing even for the most complex use cases, implement flexible data models that support complex account hierarchies for granular plans and services, and more. 

How Alepo can help 

Alepo supports advanced charging use cases through robust convergent charging and policy control network functions, both of which are part of the 5G-compliant Digital BSS product suite and Alepo’s 5G Core Network solution. Both can either be deployed as part of the new solution or integrated with any other vendor’s BSS, enabling you to preserve your existing network investments.

Legacy 4G/LTE environments are unable to support charging for 5G use cases, so the first step towards implementing advanced charging is ensuring you have a modern BSS and 5G Core infrastructure. As experts in this domain, Alepo can provide a host of deployment options to smoothly transition to 5G, including local, public, hybrid, 4G + 5G combo, and private models.

Rajesh Mhapankar

Rajesh Mhapankar

Director, Innovations

A seasoned professional, technologist, innovator, and telecom expert. With over 20 years of experience in the software industry, Rajesh brings a strong track record of accelerating product innovations and development at Alepo. He supports the company’s mission-critical BSS/OSS projects in LTE, WiFi and broadband networks, including core policy, charging, and control elements.

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Deployment Modes for 5G Compact Core

Deployment Modes for 5G Compact Core

Deployment Modes for 5G Compact Core

 

April 8, 2021

 

 

Introduction

5G holds immense potential to transform virtually every industry with its ultrafast speeds, low latency, high bandwidth, and reliability. As healthcare, automotive, manufacturing, entertainment, and a host of other sectors eagerly await the application of next-gen use cases, the race is on for service providers to find the easiest path to rolling out and monetizing the next-gen technology, especially for their enterprise clients. Alepo’s Compact Core facilitates the support of enterprise deployments, particularly those looking for private networks, and it offers a host of flexible options depending on the operator’s unique business requirements.

Alepo’s Compact Core

Most existing 5G networks are powered by 4G core/EPC and 5G RAN (non-standalone 5G or 5G NSA), and since they are dependent on the 4G core, they aren’t true end-to-end 5G networks. Alepo’s new-generation Compact Core, along with the ESS Portal, is set to change that. All elements in the 5G-compliant Compact Core are pre-integrated, ensuring that enterprises can swiftly set up standalone 5G networks (5G SA) that are independent of the 4G core, while also supporting combo deployments over an existing 4G core.

The industrialized Compact Core solution enables service providers to support enterprise and industrial use cases for a small number of subscribers. A complete pre-integrated and self-contained solution, the Compact Core includes the network core and other networking infrastructure, working seamlessly with end devices and the radio access network without impacting or depending on external systems.

The solution comprises AuSF for Authentication, UDM for Authorization, a converged policy combo (PCF + PCRF), and Data Repository for Subscriber Data Management. It also includes an enterprise self-service portal for enterprises to import and efficiently manage all connected devices. (For more details on its features and benefits, read our blog, Envisioning Private 5G Success with Compact Core.)

Compact Core Deployment Modes

Local deployment model

DescriptionBenefitsUse Cases
    The 5G Core (5GC) is deployed on-premise over private cloud or standalone servers. The containerized 5G core network functions (NFs) are deployed on cloud-native infrastructure. It is a completely isolated system with no external inputs or outputs, and all data processing is completed and stored onsite.
  • High security with local control and no outside connection

  • Optimizes OPEX

  • One-box solution

  • Ensures smooth operations and maintenance through support for integrated EMS and PaaS tools

  • Manufacturing

  • Utilities

  • Public safety

  • Smart buildings

  • Education

Hybrid deployment model

DescriptionBenefitsUse Cases
    The User Plan Function (UPF) is deployed on the telco edge or enterprise premise, while the 5G core is deployed on private or public cloud at a centralized location. All devices are connected to a centralized server; the data payload dynamically changes depending on the edge location, helping ensure low latency.
  • Enables low-latency data connectivity

  • The UPF is connected to the 5G Core using a secured tunnel, ensuring failproof security

  • All 5GC NFs are deployed with a minimal resource footprint

  • Enables focus on data control and access, with dedicated communications only where needed

  • Ensures smooth operations and maintenance through support for integrated EMS and PaaS tools
  • V2X (vehicle to everything) tracking

  • Centralized and distributed campus networks

  • 5G network slicing

  • Logistics

Public cloud model

DescriptionBenefitsUse Cases
    The 5G core NFs are deployed on highly distributed public cloud infrastructure, enabling one or more geographic locations both within the operator’s premises as well as in other regions. Supports secure and reliable wireless infrastructure for industrial applications.
  • Reduces network management complexities and ongoing IT maintenance

  • Lowers CAPEX and deployment time

  • Simplifies deployments through automated orchestration and configuration

  • Helps efficiently manage traffic

  • Industrial IoT (IIoT)

  • Manufacturing automation

  • Events

  • 5G AR

  • Base station sites

  • Regional and/or national data centers for edge infrastructure

4G+5G combo model

DescriptionBenefitsUse Cases
    This converged offering for a joint 4G and 5G core supports containerized 4G+5G core NFs that are deployed over cloud-native infrastructure, with support for inter-RAT and intra-RAT mobility.
  • Can be deployed with or without N26 interworking support

  • A one-box solution

  • Helps optimize CAPEX and OPEX

  • Supports integrated EMS and PaaS tools for smooth operations and maintenance
  • Enterprises who want to support LTE from a 5G core

  • Network slicing

Business Benefits of Alepo’s Compact Core

Partnering with Alepo for the Compact Core offers a host of advantages for service providers:

  • The solution’s flexibility in deployment is unparalleled, ensuring a low resource footprint no matter what deployment mode an enterprise chooses. 
  • The Compact Core leverages cloud-native features to ensure hassle-free, automated, and cost-efficient operations that can be tailored for each enterprise’s unique business requirements.  
  • The plug-and-play capability enables enterprises to swiftly launch a private network, bundling in one solution a host of network offerings (broadband, voice, and more). The various open interfaces such as Radio Access Network (RAN) or core network can plug into the operator’s network for wide-area coverage. The solution enables the enterprise to support and control services (like edge computing) and facilitates network management using a network slice.
  • Alepo is an early mover in helping operators implement 5G technology, with many 5GC projects and compact cores deployed. As an end-to-end solutions provider, we leverage our many cross-industry partnerships, build cybersecurity plans, and ensure regulatory compliance in your region of operations, enabling you to realize your operational and business goals so you can focus on helping your enterprise clients do that same.

 

Begin your next-gen journey today by booking a demo with our 5G solution experts.

Prathamesh Malushte

Prathamesh Malushte

Principal Solution Architect

Prathamesh is a PDM and solution integration specialist with expertise in 5G core network functions and protocols. He specializes in creating user stories, call flows, and designs for 5GC as well as legacy networks, as well as in handling OSS/BSS intricacies. After hours, he loves sports, enjoys trekking, and is passionate about playing different musical instruments.

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The advantages of 5G service-based architecture (SBA)

The advantages of 5G service-based architecture (SBA)

The advantages of 5G service-based architecture (SBA)

18th of March 2021

An introduction to 5G service-based architecture

5G brings transformational changes to the core network with a modular and cloud-native approach. One key advancement is that it upgrades the traditional telco architecture to Service-Based Architecture (SBA), enabling more flexible service development.

Introduced to improve the modularity of the network system, SBA lets network elements or network functions (NFs) in 5G communicate with each other over a service-based interface. It allows the decoupling of NFs with more precise functionalities. Each NF provides a set of services to another NF in the SBA. These NFs communicate with each other using a more open REST-based interface rather than traditional telco protocols such as Diameter.

What does this integral change in network architecture mean for telcos?

The SBA offers a host of benefits, including:

  • Deploys as containers orchestrated by Kubernetes, allowing the core to run on non-proprietary infrastructure
  • Lets new software vendors plug-and-play their NFs for a best of breeds approach
  • Enables network slicing, with dynamic and efficient resource utilization
  • Simplifies operations using application programming interface (APIs)
  • Leverages the use of harmonized protocols such as HTTP/2 and its well-developed security mechanisms
  • Facilitates seamless integration of third-party applications with the core network

SBA offers a host of benefits

How network functions communicate in SBA

Every NF in the SBA acts as a service producer and a service consumer for each NF. All NFs communicate with each other using one of two mechanisms:

  • Request-response mechanism: here, a consumer NF requests a producer NF for services over HTTP/2 request, and the producer NF complies.
  • Subscribe-notify mechanism: a consumer NF subscribes to certain events of the producer NF, and the producer NF notifies the consumer NF once the particular event occurs.

All of this communication is always completed using JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) objects.

The Network Repository Function – a standalone NF – acts as a unified NF repository and an internal mediator between NFs for operations such as discovery and status tracking of NF instances. For instance, if the Access and Mobility Function (AMF) wants to communicate with the Session Management Function (SMF) to establish a data session, and needs certain information about the SMF (including NF type, FQDN/IP address, endpoint information, services supported, and more) to ensure its communication with the SMF is seamless, it requests this information from the NRF. The NRF responds with the required data, facilitating smooth communication between the two.

The SBA provides an underlying REST-based stateless transaction framework for previously stateful services.

From the development standpoint, interfaces (APIs) for SBA are defined with Interface Definition Language (IDL). The interface definitions are written using YAML, and are language- and platform-independent, reducing development time and effort. They are utilized by the producer NF and consumer NF to ensure that communication between them is standardized and harmonized.

The full potential of 5G SBA

5G SBA allows any third-party application, referred by 3GPP as Application Function (AF), to interact with 5G NFs in a secured manner. Another NF – Network Exposure Function (NEF) – acts as a mediator for external communication. For example, the AF will subscribe to AMF events via NEF, the AMF will notify the NEF once the event occurs, and the NEF will then notify the AF. This is vital in enabling several next-gen use cases such as precise indoor navigation for complex buildings such as airports, train stations, hospitals, malls, trade shows, offices, industrial areas, and more.

A 5G standalone (5G-SA) network will leverage the full potential of service-based architecture, elevating the consumer’s mobile network experience while also opening a host of monetization and partnership opportunities for MNOs.

How Alepo can accelerate your 5G journey

With its vast experience in automation and digital transformation, Alepo designs advanced 5G Core and digital BSS solutions that ensure modern, flexible, secured, and operationally efficient deployments.

Alepo’s 5G Converged Core supports 4G, 5G Non-Standalone (NSA), as well as 5G SA deployments. Along with Alepo’s 5G core network functions, it provides key components of the 5G core, including subscriber data management, policy control and charging, AUSF, UDM+HSS, UDR, PCF+PCRF, and more.

The Converged Core employs cloud- and PaaS-agnostic microservices-based software architecture and supports flexible deployment models such as public, private, and hybrid. It also supports both containerized (using Docker) as well as VNF-based deployments, facilitating matured, integrated, and robust 5G implementation at the application, infrastructural, and process levels.

Nitish Muley

Nitish Muley

Senior Engineer

Nitish has spent years building mobile apps for technologies like VR, AR, IoT, and is currently working on Alepo’s newest products. Always up to speed with the latest in the industry, Nitish is a voracious reader – and fervent writer – about all things related to tech and wireless standards. After hours, he wears a traveler’s hat, pursuing his love for photography as he explores different countries.

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Why 5G standalone core needs to be on every operator’s roadmap

Why 5G standalone core needs to be on every operator’s roadmap

Why 5G standalone core needs to be on every operator’s roadmap

22nd of October 2020

By now we all know that 5G’s ultrafast speeds, high bandwidth, and low latency will open a world of opportunities, its advanced applications transforming virtually every industry. From manufacturing, healthcare, and the Internet of Things (IoT), to AR, VR, and gaming, the possibilities are endless. Service providers have two ways of transitioning to a next-gen network: 5G NSA (non-standalone) and 5G SA (standalone), with SA being the end-goal. 5G NSA (4G LTE EPC plus new RAN) remains the strategy to quickly launch high-speed 5G broadband, yet lacks the new architecture and functionality that will allow 5G to fulfill its visionary use cases.

Unlike 5G NSA, which reuses the Evolved Packet Core (EPC), 5G SA uses cloud-based and Service-Based Architecture (SBA) that optimize network infrastructure with virtualized network functions (NFs), enabling operators to launch differentiated services, ensuring a high quality of service.

5G NSA: step one in 5G launch

The most popular choice of service providers to deploy 5G is 5G NSA, which is 5G radio using an existing 4G EPC. This option is considered the most viable and cost-effective. The only condition is that the 4G EPC needs to be 3GPP Release 15-complaint with additional functionalities to support dual-radio connectivity. This will enable operators to seamlessly launch 5G services and offer high-speed internet and improve access capacity.

5G NSA focuses on offering higher data speeds and improved radio coverage in densely populated areas, helping CSPs rapidly market 5G to gain a competitive edge. However, it does not offer many of the advanced use cases possible with 5G SA, such as ultra-reliable and low latency communications (URLLC) and massive machine-type communications (mMTC).

5G-SA: the path to full 5G benefits

The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) has revamped core network architecture, having moved away from traditional telecom protocols to more open, modern SBA. The 5G Core comprises multiple NFs, each responsible for specific core network functions. These NFs use REST-based APIs to interface with each other over HTTP/2 protocol, which is collectively referred to as the Service-Based Interface (SBI).

5G SA key components 5G SA key features and components

With the sheer number of use cases it supports and the forecast for devices, traffic is far more dynamic in a 5G network. And so a robust underlying core network is necessary for the network to swiftly respond to demands. 5G SA enables just that. Some of its key features:

Multi-vendor ecosystem opens the doors for new vendors, who are not just restricted to the telecom sector, or in the legacy core. The adoption of new technologies that are in-line with modern infrastructure such as REST-based (HTTP/2 or Open APIs) widens the scope for innovative vendors to contribute and revolutionize network operations and processes.

Service-Based Architecture defines key 5GC components as NFs that integrate with each over modern APIs that support multiple varied core network functions.

Control and User Plane Separation (CUPS) enables independent scaling between the control plane and user plane functions, facilitating flexible network deployment and operation. For instance, if the data traffic load increases, more data plane nodes are added without affecting the functionality of the existing control plane.

Network function virtualization (NFV) allows virtualizing entire network functions and appliances using standard vendor-neutral hardware and IT infrastructure in the 5G network. It helps operators achieve a faster service life cycle, rapid deployment, scalability, operational efficiency, agility, and more.

Network slicing enables operators to build multiple dedicated networks to cater to different business verticals with diverse requirements of high-bandwidth, ultra-reliability, low-latency communication, and more.

Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC) distributes computing resources along the communication path using decentralized cloud infrastructure. MEC brings data and computational capabilities closer to the source and network edges such as users’ devices, IoT devices, vCPEs, and more.

Some key components include:

Unified Data Management (UDM) enables managing all subscription-related data for authorization and access services.

Unified Data Repository (UDR) stores all structured data on a flexible and highly available platform, enabling the network to readily respond to critical demands in real-time.

Policy Control Function (PCF) is evolved from the PCRF of legacy networks, providing policy assets to handle access mobility related to policies, as well as handling data- and application-related policies. It enables advanced plan and policy customization for 5G use cases.

Network Repository Function (NRF) keeps a record of all network function instances in the network and helps automate the functioning of NFs.

Network Slice Selection Function (NSSF) plays an essential role in network slicing, dynamically selecting slices based on real-time information.

Network Exposure Function (NEF) ensures information is securely translated and communicated from external applications. It is fundamental in the authorization for any access request received outside of the 3GPP network, thus ensuring the network supports use cases like cellular IoT, edge computing, and more.

Business benefits you can derive with a robust 5G SA solution

A 5G SA solution is meant to enable service providers to adapt to key technological changes like a cloud-native and microservice-based architecture, helping achieve operational excellence while maximizing ROI. It can facilitate:

  • Rapid introduction of new services without interfering with existing services
  • Scaling to support changing network demands and growing subscriber bases
  • Offering differentiated services with high QoS
  • Automating functions like network slicing
  • Lowering operational costs

Alepo’s role in your 5G journey

Alepo offers core network solutions and a digital business support system (BSS) to support unified 4G management (EPC, IMS), C-IoT, and non-3GPP networks (such as WiFi).

Alepo’s 5G Core solution includes AUSF, subscriber data management (SDM), UDM, UDR, EIR, PCF, and Charging Function (CHF). It also includes a unified and highly scalable subscriber repository that holds identities and subscription profiles for both 4G and 5G. The 5G Core employs cloud- and PaaS-agnostic microservice-based software architecture and supports public, private, and hybrid deployment options. And it supports both containerized and NFV-based deployment.

Alepo also supports operators who are not yet ready to move to 5G, bridging the gap by creating a modern next-gen omnichannel experience for subscribers by adding WiFi offload into the operator’s network as well as enabling unique and advanced IoT offerings on the legacy network.

Tell us your business needs, and we’ll help design network innovations to drive ROI. Connect with an Alepo expert today.

Rajesh Mhapankar

Rajesh Mhapankar

Director, Innovations

A seasoned professional, technologist, innovator, and telecom expert. With over 20 years of experience in the software industry, Rajesh brings a strong track record of accelerating product innovations and development at Alepo. He supports the company’s mission-critical BSS/OSS projects in LTE, WiFi and broadband networks, including core policy, charging, and control elements.

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5G SA vs 5G NSA: What Are The Differences?

5G SA vs 5G NSA: What Are The Differences?

5G SA vs 5G NSA: What Are The Differences?

October 19, 2020

Introduction

For leading mobile network operators (MNOs), 5G is mainly about offering high-speed connectivity to consumers, on devices that support fifth-gen network services. To smoothly transition from the existing legacy core to 5G, MNOs have two pathways: Non-Standalone (NSA) or Standalone (SA) architecture. And while they are both means to the same end, NSA and SA are structurally and functionally different.

NSA allows operators to leverage their existing network investments in communications and mobile core instead of deploying a new core for 5G. 5G Radio Access Network (RAN) can be deployed and supported by the existing Evolved Packet Core (EPC), lowering CAPEX and OPEX. To further lower network operating costs, operators can adopt the virtualization of Control and User Plane Separation (CUPS) along with software-defined networking (SDN). These initial steps will help quickly unlock new 5G revenue streams and offer faster data speeds.

5G SA is a completely new core architecture defined by 3GPP that introduces major changes such as a Service-Based Architecture (SBA) and functional separation of various network functions. Its architecture has the definite advantage of end-to-end high-speed and service assurance, particularly useful for MNOs who are set to commence new enterprise 5G services such as smart cities, smart factories, or other vertically integrated market solutions. The deployment model enables the rapid introduction of new services with quick time-to-market. However, it means additional investment and complexities of running multiple cores in the network.

Architecturally, NSA includes a new RAN, deployed alongside the 4G or LTE radio with the existing 4G Core or EPC. 5G SA, on the other hand, includes a new radio along with the 5G Core (5GC), comprising completely virtualized cloud-native architecture (CNA) that introduces new ways to develop, deploy, and manage services. 5GC supports high-throughput for accelerated performance than the 5G network demands. Its virtualized service-based architecture (SBA) makes it possible to deploy all 5G software network functions using edge computing.

5G software network functions using edge computingAn overview of 5G SA and 5G NSA deployment options (Source: GSMA) 

5G Standalone (SA) vs 5G Non-Standalone (NSA)

5G SA Architecture

According to a survey, 37% of MNOs will deploy 5G SA within two years; 27% of operators plan to deploy 5G SA within 12 to 18 months with an additional 10% increase within 24 months. 5G SA architecture will allow operators to address the fifth generation of mobile communications, including enhanced mobile broadband, massive machine-to-machine communications, massive IoT, and ultra-low latency communications.

Standalone 5G NR comprises a new end-to-end architecture that uses mm-Waves and sub-GHz frequencies and this mode will not make use of the existing 4G LTE infrastructure. The SA 5G NR will use enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), Ultra-Reliable and Low Latency Communications (URLLC), and huge machine-type communications (mMTC) to implement multi-gigabit data rates with improved efficiency and lower costs.

5G SA also enables more advanced network slicing capabilities, helping operators rapidly transition to both 5G New Radio (NR) and 5G as the core network. Network slicing, URLLC, and mMTC bring ultra-low latency along with a wide range of next-gen use cases like remote control of critical infrastructure, self-driving vehicles, advanced healthcare, and more. However, the NR advanced cases are not backward compatible with the EPC, which is the framework that provides converged voice and data on a 4G LTE network. The level of reliability and latency that 5G provides will be indispensable for handling smart-grid control machines, industrial automation, robotics, and drone control and coordination.

5G NSA Architecture

NSA 5G NR is considered as the early version of SA 5G NR mode, in which 5G networks are supported by existing LTE infrastructure. It fundamentally concentrates on eMBB, where 5G-supported handsets and devices will make use of mmWave frequencies for increased data capacity but will continue to use existing 4G infrastructure for voice communications.

NSA helps MNOs launch 5G quickly for eMBB to get a competitive edge in the telecom market. NSA also helps leverage its existing LTE/VoLTE footprint to maximize the LTE installed base and boost capacity while increasing delivery efficiency. It will not support network slicing, URLLC, and mMTC, but its higher broadband speeds will enable services such as video streaming, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and an immersive media experience.

Non-Standalone 5G NR will provide increased data-bandwidth by using the following two new radio frequency ranges:

  • Frequency range 1 (450 MHz to 6000 MHz) – overlaps with 4G LTE frequencies and is termed as sub-6 GHz. The bands are numbered from 1 to 255.
  • Frequency range 2 (24 GHz to 52 GHz) – is the main mmWave frequency band. The bands are numbered from 257 to 511.

Technical Differences between 5G SA and 5G NSA

The main difference between NSA and SA is that NSA provides control signaling of 5G to the 4G base station, whereas in SA the 5G base station is directly connected to the 5G core network and the control signaling does not depend on the 4G network. In simple terms, NSA is like adding a solid-state drive to an old computer, which can improve the system’s performance, while SA is like replacing it with a new computer that has newer technologies and optimum performance.

Some benefits include:

  • NSA is extremely low in cost compared to SA.
  • NSA eases 5G network deployments as it reuses existing 4G facilities, thus allowing rapid time to market for 5G mobile broadband.
  • With NSA, the deployment is faster and time-to-market is lower, as 4G locations can be used to install 5G radio. SA requires building 5G base stations and the back-end 5G core network to fully realize the characteristics and functions of 5G.
  • SA involves a 5G core with SBA for scalability and flexibility to deliver a superfast network with ultra-low latency for advanced 5G use cases.

5G Usage Scenarios in NSA and SA Operation

The requirements of 5G NR for the SA provide a complete set of specifications for the 5G core network that goes beyond NSA. The three major usage scenarios defined for 5G by the 3GPP and GSMA include:

  1. Enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB)
  2. Ultra-reliable and low latency communications (URLLC)
  3. Massive machine-type communications (mMTC)

Enhanced Mobile Broadband with 5G Major 5G usage scenarios

The Future of 5G Includes NSA and SA

Early adopters of 5G primarily focus on NSA deployments as they compete to deliver 5G speeds with a quick time to market. These MNOs can move to SA-based architecture over a period of time, which most plan to do. NSA deployment remains a mainstream solution given its ability to handle both 4G- and 5G-based traffic, keeping these early adopters ahead of their competition as they undertake their network transformation. 5G devices are not widespread so the need for SA-based architecture is still nascent.

In the future, the convergence of NSA and SA will help operators move to a full 5G network. A complete virtualized 5G architecture will allow MNOs to migrate and choose varied functionalities of their existing NSA solution to the 5GC platform, as new 5G services are launched, allowing them to monetize their investment gradually rather than move all at once and enabling them to recover their costs over time.

Although SA is a more mature network architecture compared to NSA, NSA will continue to be the more commonly chosen path to 5G. All NSA single-mode 5G phones launched this year or early next year will be valid for a decade, and as SA architecture permeates, more and more 5G SA devices will be in our homes and businesses.

Rajesh Mhapankar

Rajesh Mhapankar

Director, Innovations

A seasoned professional, technologist, innovator, and telecom expert. With over 20 years of experience in the software industry, Rajesh brings a strong track record of accelerating product innovations and development at Alepo. He supports the company’s mission-critical BSS/OSS projects in LTE, WiFi and broadband networks, including core policy, charging, and control elements.

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Envisioning Private 5G Success with Compact Core

Envisioning Private 5G Success with Compact Core

Envisioning private 5G success with Compact Core

 

8th of July 2020

 

 

 

5G is set to change the way large and small enterprises operate; from universities, ports, smart cities, factories, farms, and buildings, its use cases can meet all business needs. And the key network component that will enable all the unique features of 5G for these enterprises: Compact Core.

The Compact Core is an industrialized solution designed for enterprises that need carrier-grade network connectivity with a limited resource footprint to deliver services to their users. It is especially useful for those who want private network connectivity, whether it is over LTE or 5G. The deployment involves pre-integrated access and core network components for quick setup and less complex operations.

How the Compact Core benefits an enterprise

The Compact Core is a complete pre-integrated and self-contained solution that includes the network core and other networking infrastructure, which seamlessly works with end devices and the radio access network. It does not impact and is not dependent on external systems or organizations.

Swift deployment

In terms of time, Compact Core deployment is highly efficient. Enterprises can launch a private LTE or 5G network along with mobile broadband and voice services in a single project, saving on the time they would otherwise need to deploy these services individually. Since the solution is pre-integrated, no extensive development, customization, or testing is needed to go live.

Cloud-native benefits

The Compact Core is a modernized software solution that leverages the power of cloud, abstracting the underlying complex functionality. It is the smartest choice when upgrading from legacy telco infrastructure to modern, web-scale, 5G architecture. Capable of serving multiple enterprises, it uses SaaS-based multi-tenant architecture. Each tenant has a dedicated configuration, user management, and can self-service through web portals. This setup offers automated, cost-efficient, and hassle-free operations with dynamic provisioning of core capacity based on individual business requirements.

Flexible footprint

Whether the enterprise wants to deploy securely on-premise or on the public cloud, the modern compact core solution has a small resource footprint and flexibility of deployment modes. An in-memory database and ability to scale up and down sets it apart from legacy telco core solutions.

Role of Alepo’s Compact Core in private 5G enablement

Alepo is a software company that offers Subscriber Data Management and policy network functions for the Compact Core. It manages subscriber identities, service subscriptions, and is responsible for authentication, authorizing secure access to network services. It also includes the web-based Enterprise Self-Service (ESS) Portal that enables enterprises to self-manage SIM cards, end-to-end subscription and device lifecycles, and real-time connection and usage monitoring. Alepo’s pre-integrated partners bring the RAN, end devices, and other infrastructure needed to flip the switch and turn on the 5G network.

Ready for real 5G launch

The Compact Core equips an enterprise to launch its private LTE or 5G services. Essential services include enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), voice calls, and video calls. It can also include services such as push-to-talk or walkie-talkie. Further, users can get 5G benefits such as ultra-reliable and low-latency communication (URLLC) for M2M and IoT applications.

Most existing 5G networks are powered by 4G core/EPC and 5G RAN (non-standalone 5G). They are dependent on the 4G core and therefore are not end-to-end 5G networks. Alepo’s new-generation Compact Core, along with the ESS Portal, is 5G-compliant. All elements are pre-integrated to rapidly enable enterprises to set up a new standalone 5G network with zero dependence on the 4G core.

Nitish Muley

Nitish Muley

Senior Engineer

Nitish has spent years building mobile apps for technologies like VR, AR, IoT, and is currently working on Alepo’s newest products. Always up to speed with the latest in the industry, Nitish is a voracious reader – and fervent writer – about all things related to tech and wireless standards. After hours, he wears a traveler’s hat, pursuing his love for photography as he explores different countries.

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