The role of cloud NWDAF in optimizing 5G network management and performance

The role of cloud NWDAF in optimizing 5G network management and performance

The role of cloud NWDAF in optimizing 5G network management and performance

 

January 31, 2023

Introduction

As 5G networks continue to roll out across the globe, network operators seek ways to manage and optimize these complex, high-capacity networks efficiently. One solution gaining traction is using the cloud Network Data Analytics Function (NWDAF). The cloud NWDAF plays a key role in realizing the automation and monetization of 5G networks.

What is cloud NWDAF, and how does it work?

NWDAF is introduced by 3GPP to handle network analytics and provides real-time analysis and insights into network performance and behavior. It continuously monitors network data, identifying trends, patterns, and anomalies that may indicate issues or potential improvements. NWDAF can help network operators proactively troubleshoot problems and optimize network performance, improving reliability and quality of service for end users.

In addition to providing real-time analytics, NWDAF can also provide data-driven recommendations for network configuration and optimization. By analyzing large amounts of network data, NWDAF can identify the most effective settings and configurations for different network scenarios and automatically apply them, reducing the need for manual intervention and speeding up the process of deploying and managing 5G networks.

Cloud NWDAF can analyze data from various sources, including network performance metrics, subscriber data, and service usage patterns. It can also integrate with other network management tools and systems, such as network element controllers and orchestration platforms, to provide a comprehensive view of network performance. 

NWDAF integrates will all 5G core network functions

NWDAF integrates will all 5G core network functions

 

How can operators use cloud NWDAF in 5G networks?

There are several ways that network operators can use the cloud NWDAF to improve 5G network performance and management:

  • Proactive troubleshooting: By continuously monitoring network data, NWDAF can help operators identify potential issues before they become major problems. This can enable operators to take proactive measures to prevent outages and other service disruptions, leading to improved reliability and quality of service.
  • Optimization of network performance: NWDAF can provide data-driven recommendations for optimizing network performance. For example, it can identify the most effective configurations for different network scenarios, such as high-traffic areas or special events, and automatically apply them to improve network efficiency and capacity.
  • Streamlined deployment and management: By automating network configuration and optimization tasks, NWDAF can help reduce the time and effort required to deploy and manage 5G networks. This can help operators to bring new services to market faster and more efficiently.
  • Enhanced user experience: By improving network reliability and performance, NWDAF can help to enhance the user experience on 5G networks, leading to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Conclusion

NWDAF is a powerful tool that can help network operators efficiently manage and optimize 5G networks. By continuously analyzing and optimizing network performance, NWDAF can help to ensure that 5G networks are reliable, efficient, and provide an enhanced user experience.

Alepo’s 5G Core network solution, including SDM (AUSF, UDM, UDR) and PCF, interface with NWDAF, helping our 5G operator customers with advanced network analytics, real-time monitoring, quick troubleshooting and service restoration, and many more effective network management and optimization functions.

Rajesh Mhapankar

Rajesh Mhapankar

Vice President, Product Management

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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6G: what to expect and when?

6G: what to expect and when?

6G: what to expect and when?

 

January 05, 2023

Data and networks are becoming increasingly critical as technologies progress. To keep up with these needs, telecom companies are pioneering new innovations and introducing 5G networks and advancing R&D on 6G.

With the deployment of 5G networks still under process, and many people not owning 5G smartphones yet, it may seem a bit early to discuss 6G and its innovations. After all, the concept of the 6G network is still in early development, and it may not become a part of commercial use until the 2030s.

However, technology is advancing rapidly; the idea of ​​6G being in talks so early while 5G is yet to make significant global inroads, shows how quickly the technology is progressing.

With 6G, we will likely see data speeds so high that hundreds of gigabits of files will download within a matter of seconds and improved network latency and processing speeds. With that in mind, let’s dive deep into the sixth generation of wireless data networks to see how it will impact the world.

What is 6G?

As the successor to 5G cellular technology, 6G is the sixth generation of wireless networks. Like all previous generations, 6G will build on and enhance the capabilities of 5G, augmented by advances in digital technology. That will mean expanding on speed and data capacity, plus the innovations regarding IoT (the Internet of Things) that 5G will make practical.

The 6G technology market promises massive improvements in imaging, presence technology, and site awareness. Working with artificial intelligence (AI), 6G computing infrastructure will be able to determine the optimal location of computing power, including decisions about data storage and sharing.

According to some reports by telecommunications experts, 6G will apply technologies designed for mobile phones to a broad range of applications, including transportation, agriculture, and advanced home networking. That will allow people to experience a seamless connection between the Internet and their daily lives.

5G vs 6G

Let’s understand some fundamental differences between 5G and 6G through the following table:

5G6G
Spectrum used: GHz (Gigahertz)Spectrum used: THz (Terahertz)
Top speed: 10GbpsTop speed: 1Tbps (hypothetical)
Latency: 5 millisecondsLatency: 1 millisecond - 1 microsecond
Technologies: IoT, IIoT, Cloud Computing, Edge OrchestrationTechnologies: Advanced IoT & IIoT, Nano-core, Edge and Core Coordination, and more

When is 6G expected?

The concept of 6G is still in its infancy, but it has incredible potential. 6G networks may become commercial sometime around 2030, or at least when most telecom companies will be running trials, and that is when we’ll see phone manufacturers tease 6G-capable phones. That said, no one knows “exactly” when the new wireless spectrum will become available. It is because of regulation and frequency allocation, which takes time.

According to a report from the local news agency Yonhap, South Korea plans to introduce 6G services for commercial use by approximately 2028. The adoption of 6G technology will bring significant advancements in various industries and sectors, including communication, transportation, and healthcare. The government and private companies in South Korea have been actively investing in research and development to ensure that the country is at the forefront of 6G innovation. The target date for the commercialization of 6G services in South Korea aligns with the timeline set by other countries, such as the United States and China, which are also working towards developing and implementing 6G technology.

6G will likely use the distributed radio access network (RAN) and the terahertz (THz) spectrum to boost capacity, minimize latency, and improve spectrum sharing. Advanced mobile communications technology, such as cognitive and highly secure data networks, will also be used. It will also necessitate spectral bandwidth growth orders of magnitude faster than 5G.

What to expect with 6G?

6G technology will significantly improve upon 5G in terms of network coverage and reliability, allowing for a higher density of mobile devices to connect and interact with each other in real time.

Additionally, 6G will optimize moment-to-moment interaction by improving network reliability more than a hundred times and reducing the error rate by ten times. Improvements in these areas will also benefit smartphones and other mobile network technology and many emerging technologies.

Some experts believe that 6G networks could one day allow you to reach speeds of up to one terabyte per second (Tbps) on your internet devices. That’s a thousand times faster than one Gbps, among the fastest speeds available on most home internet networks today. It’s a hundred times faster than 5G’s supposed top speed of 10 Gbps. So, yes, that’s an optimistic estimate, and we’re a long way from reaching those speeds. However, researchers predict that 6G will focus on extremely high bandwidth and reliability. With 6G, the Internet will be instantly and continuously accessible and integrated into the daily lives of many of us.

As mentioned earlier, 6G technology will also cover a much larger area than 5G, which means that we would need fewer towers to cover an area of land. That would be highly beneficial if you’re looking to have towers in places where it rains frequently or trees and vegetation are abundant.

In addition, 6G will also integrate many new technologies and changes in the core communication network structure. In particular, AI and the IoT will take center stage in 6G.

One of the main advantages of 6G will be its ability to facilitate instant communication between phones, computers, robots, and more. Technologies such as terahertz waves, cloud computing, and edge orchestration will enable the widespread implementation of wearable smart devices, virtual reality headsets, automated infrastructure, and many other exciting things.

Conclusion

While 6G networks do not yet exist and are currently in the research phase, companies are already anticipating cutting-edge wireless network use cases utilizing 6G technology after successful comparisons of 5G and 6G networks.

The new generation network is still in the process of finalizing most of its primary characteristics. That includes high-speed data transfer rates and multiple radio channels for increased reliability and coverage area. Once these features are ready, we’ll start seeing public testing of 6G devices.

Today, everyone has their own unique internet connection speed and data usage limits. That is because each person uses their WiFi router without thinking about interference levels or performance issues. With 6G, all wireless devices will connect to a single high-speed internet channel with no limits whatsoever.

In any case, the prospect of using 6G remains popular among many. It may resolve many of the current issues related to wireless communication.

Rajesh Mhapankar

Rajesh Mhapankar

Vice President, Product Management

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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Top 6 ways for operators to accelerate their 5G rollout

Top 6 ways for operators to accelerate their 5G rollout

Top 6 ways for operators to accelerate their 5G rollout

 

April 21, 2022

5G rollout will open new opportunities

The benefits of 5G for networks and their customers are indisputable. Industry experts say that 5G will be 10x faster than existing 4G networks. In fact, standalone 5G networks can provide Gigabit-class speeds as fast as fiber connections. And 5G will not only deliver faster mobile data speeds, but also provide significant enhancements to network flexibility, scalability, and efficiency. Plus, private 5G presents the opportunity for service providers to cater to enterprise clients by delivering advanced Industry 4.0 use cases. As OEMs launch 5G-ready devices, some operators are beginning to deploy next-gen networks, while others are still looking for ways to ensure faster 5G rollout. What’s holding them back, and how can they expedite their 5G launch?

Operator challenges in launching 5G

5G technology has made significant progress on several fronts over the last few years. There are more 5G-compatible devices in the market like the iPhone 12 and home routers. Wireless RAN infrastructure and cloud technologies have been developed to support next-gen capabilities. And the foundation for a potentially rich business ecosystem of partnerships is also emerging. But adoption is still in the nascent stage.
Operators today have a host of concerns in transitioning their networks to 5G, which include:

  • Reluctance to make the massive investment required for wide 5G coverage.
  • Lack of spectrum availability in many regions and local regulatory challenges.
  • Low prevalence of 5G devices, meaning operators may not be able to upsell consumers.
  • Technical complications in implementing 5G alongside an existing LTE network, as it would lead to complex network infrastructure that presents difficulties in management and high maintenance costs.

How operators can swiftly launch 5G

Using a combination of mid-band and low-band spectrum

While multi-gigabit 5G speeds are seen only on high-band spectrum (mmWave), many operators have proven success in using sub-6 spectrum in low bands and mid bands for a 5G launch on a wider scale. Using a combination of spectrum in low bands and mid bands also promises larger geographical coverage with higher bandwidth. This approach will result in a balanced 5G network that is faster than 4G, ensuring the best performance indoors and outdoors.

Following a two-phase NSA approach

Technically called the eUTRA-NR Dual Connectivity (EN-DC) approach, this will allow operators to reuse and leverage their existing resources, keeping the promise of 5G intact. The 5G radio (gNodeB) can connect to the EPC (the LTE core), enabling implementation of a 5G Non-Standalone (NSA) deployment. This approach will immediately enable the enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) use case. Voice calls will be sent over the 4G network using EPS fallback.

Issue eSIMs instead of physical SIM cards

eSIM or embedded SIM is the electronic form of a physical SIM card. eSIMs are mounted permanently to a device. A user can digitally add plans from cellular operators to their eSIM without having to physically replace the SIM card. The eSIM not only improves design flexibility, it also allows the operator to digitally distribute subscriptions in bulk. It will enable faster time-to-market for operators, as a 5G eSIM can be simply delivered in the form of a QR code via email, making it much easier to distribute than physical SIMs.

Most major operators now support eSIMs. The number of mobile devices that support them is steadily growing, and will soon be far more widespread.

Prioritize network virtualization

Arguably the best thing about 5G is its cloud-native architecture. A virtualized 5G RAN and core can reside on generic commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware, eliminating dependence on proprietary hardware vendors. This approach is much more flexible and cost-efficient as it will allow operators to scale up hardware resources with increasing user traffic. A 4G virtualized RAN can enable 5G with only a software update. Enhancements to network functions can be delivered via software patches. Operators will benefit significantly from virtualizing their 4G networks on priority, as it will enable a hassle-free, easier, faster 5G rollout.

Begin with private 5G networks

Private 5G is a dedicated and standalone next-gen cellular network best suitable for relatively smaller and more confined areas like universities, airports, campuses, buildings, and more. This private network can be launched in a matter of weeks with a limited resource footprint. It provides higher bandwidth to enable all 5G business use cases over a secure and private connection for different Industry 4.0 applications. A specialized compact core makes the installation easier and faster.

Enabling private 5G networks for enterprise clients is the best fit for operators who want to soft launch a real-world 5G network on a smaller scale before moving forward with a more large-scale launch.

Forge partnerships to improve the device ecosystem

Even though 5G launches are rapidly progressing around the world, the device ecosystem is still limited. Though most of the mid-range smartphones launched in 2021 support 5G, many users still need to upgrade their existing devices to experience 5G. What operators can do here is partner with OEMs to offer 5G mobile phones and Mi-Fi devices at a subsidized price to drive consumer interest. Trade-in programs will also help. This will enable operators to gain major traction for a faster 5G rollout and drive competition around the market.

Conclusion

With its cloud-first architecture, high bandwidth, and low latency, 5G has been emerging as a platform that will drive innovation in various sectors like healthcare, automobiles, logistics, massive IoT, and more. Industrial IoT and mission-critical use cases will benefit from the always-on and real-time connectivity of this next-gen network.

Early 5G rollout will give operators more time and opportunities to explore new use cases. In an increasingly competitive and dynamically changing market, the first-mover advantage is key.

Alepo’s industry-leading 5G Core solutions enable swift and easy deployment, provide a low resource footprint, and ensure standards-compliant infrastructure for a scalable and future-proof network. They enable operators to generate more revenue from avenues that were previously unexplored in telecom. Partnering with leading technology partners, Alepo delivers end-to-end 5G solutions that have enabled commercial success for over a dozen real-world deployments globally.

Alepo’s 5G Core Network Architecture

To begin your next-gen journey today, email us at market.development@alepo.com.

Nitish Muley

Nitish Muley

Senior Engineer

Nitish has spent years developing use cases 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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How predictive analytics unlocks 5G network potential

How predictive analytics unlocks 5G network potential

How predictive analytics unlocks 5G network potential

April 13, 2022

5G analytics systems and the predictive network

Intelligent predictive networks promise to be revolutionary for mobile network operators. And the commencement of 5G has accelerated research on the technology, as next-gen infrastructure inherently provides provisions to support these advanced systems. The predictive network essentially provides highly advanced analytics capabilities – further supported by 5G’s analytical systems – performing self-diagnostics and self-managing with minimal or no human intervention. How evolved are predictive networks today, what outcomes can operators expect from them, and what role does predictive analytics play in 5G?

Before we dive into the technical specifics, let’s first understand why predictive networks are relevant for operators.

Business benefits of predictive networks

The predictive network enables a host of benefits to service providers, including:

  • Ensure Quality of Service (QoS), Quality of Experience (QoE), and Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for 5G services by intelligently tuning to network conditions
  • Prevent performance issues, predicting them before they occur and taking anticipatory corrective measures
  • Lower downtime by minimizing network disruptions
  • Support advanced next-gen use cases
  • Maximize return on network-capacity investments
  • Continuously tune the network and balance network load to prevent over-engineering

Operator success will be defined by ensuring that their predictive systems can manage their networks more efficiently while ensuring a superior customer experience.

What exactly is a predictive network?

Traditionally, proactive systems, popularly known as Self-Organizing Networks (SON), have analyzed real-time network data to detect anomalies either when an event occurred, or the system was impacted. Their algorithms would then suggest a resolution or take corrective actions that involve human intervention.

In contrast, a predictive network uses months of historical data to predict the recurrence of network events. It essentially treats each event as a statistical problem that can be solved using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) techniques, learning from the past and predicting what it should anticipate.

The role of predictive analytics in the 5G ecosystem

5G acts as a catalyst for predictive networks because it introduces dedicated data analytics network functions (NFs). Standards bodies have defined Network Data Analytics Function (NWDAF) and Network Exposure Function (NEF) to provide a centralized predictive analytics platform for the 5G core network. These NFs collect and expose network data in real-time to machine learning applications deployed at the network edge.

3GPP has also defined standardization guidelines for data collection, predefined analytics insights, and data exposure interfaces for customers. Accordingly, the NWDAF collects data from multiple sources like user equipment, network functions, network edge, data plane, operation, administration, and maintenance (OAM) systems, and more.

The data gathered by NWDAF can be fed into an analytics engine to provide insights and take necessary actions. It is designed to defragment proprietary network analytics solutions and standardize the way mobile network data is produced and consumed.

The 5G NWDAF, combined with AI and ML, empowers proactive closed-loop network operations, ensuring the network can analyze historical data and learn from it.

The ubiquitous architecture of 5G includes an edge NWDAF co-located with core network functions and a central NWDAF. The edge NWDAF serves low and ultralow latency use cases, while the central NWDAF supports use cases that do not have real-time requirements. It also includes functions such as the data and ML models repository that help ensure the AI/ML models and continuously trained.

Along with NWDAF, 5G also introduces data analytics functions at the following layers:

  • Big data, management, and orchestration (Big Data/MDAF)
  • Application function level (AFDAF)
  • User equipment/RAN (DAF)
  • Data network (DN-DAF)

With these critical 5G functions and an edge platform, the network can meet the performance needs of more complex next-gen use cases. It will develop a system to capture network data from all functions and understand the network; measure and predict service performance; and proactively ensure high QoE, QoS, and network availability round the clock. Automating this system using AI/ML will enable operators to maximize return on investment.

Predictive analytics use cases

Some of the many use cases that can be powered by NWDAF and AI/ML include:

Load AnalysisNetwork Performance Service AssuranceDevice Behavior Analysis
Load level of network slice instanceCongestion information of user data in a specific locationNetwork performance predictions by analyzing traffic changes at the cell or area level Behavior analytics like communication patterns for individual or groups of UEs
Load analytics information for specific NFsNetwork load performance in an area of interestDensity changes in important alarms based on historical dataAbnormal behavior and anomaly detection for individual or groups of UEs

Analytics systems today and into the future

Key stages of network analytics journey

Key stages of a network’s analytics journey

The analytics journey can be classified into four stages:

  • Context-sensitive or diagnostic analytics gathers and visualizes data, identifies patterns in historical data, and detects why the event occurred.
  • Predictive analytics analyzes large volumes of data and forecasts probable future events, using machine learning techniques.
  • Prescriptive analytics provides insights and options to optimize the network.
  • Cognitive analytics takes optimized decisions to rectify problems without human intervention.

Broadly speaking, the industry is currently at the predictive analytics stage. With the advent of 5G analytics functions and maturity in AI/ML algorithms, we will soon see cognitive systems taking intelligent decisions without human intervention.

The future predictive network will analyze large datasets from multiple channels and identify complex network patterns, thus making near-accurate predictions. To achieve this, the operator’s monitoring and maintenance system must rely on 5G NWDAF and advanced predictive algorithms, both of which have equally innovative core functionalities.

Conclusion

Growing data is a reality of modern networks, and analyzing this data is the key to business success. It’s therefore essential for operators to devise and optimize their analytics system and continuously measure its maturity, especially as cloud technology permeates.

5G data analytics functions and AI/ML are set to disrupt the way we design and operate our networks. High compute and 5G network speeds make it easier to analyze huge amounts of data and transmit the results in real-time.

AI and ML technologies also enable the development of more sophisticated data analytics systems that can do more than analyze data and relay information. These intelligent systems can perform self-assessments, auto-adjust, and perform complex tasks on their own, without needing human intervention. As we see more widespread adoption, they will be transformative for the industry.

Anurag Agarwal

Anurag Agarwal

Director – R&D (5G)

A telecom veteran with over 20 years of experience, Anurag is a researcher at heart. He’s always up to speed with the newest technologies, including 5G, IoT, edge computing, network management systems, and more. After hours, he is a fitness buff who loves badminton, squash, cycling, and running marathons.

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Top 5 benefits of virtualized 5G RAN

Top 5 benefits of virtualized 5G RAN

Top 5 benefits of virtualized 5G RAN

 

March 30, 2022

The role of vRAN in 5G

5G has unveiled a world of opportunities for service providers. It is helping them revolutionize their offerings by introducing advanced services such as private networks, network slices, IoT connectivity, and more. But what makes 5G transformational for operators on the technical and business fronts? One vital component is the virtualized Radio Access Network (vRAN), which plays a significant role in the evolution of mobile networks.

The vRAN simplifies network management and enables service providers to introduce innovative new services. And the good news is, existing 4G vRAN solutions are futureproof and equipped to deliver 5G connectivity. That means operators with 5G on their roadmap can begin – in fact many have already begun – implementing vRAN now.

What makes it different from RAN?

The RAN is essential in connecting radio devices to mobile core networks and relies on hardware infrastructure. The focus of vRAN is to evolve from the traditional hardware-driven approach of RAN, and instead implement virtualized or software-based functions. It disaggregates software and hardware. Virtualizing the RAN also enables operators to run their 5G stacks on different vendor infrastructure. With its high flexibility, adaptability, and interoperability, it enables advanced high-value next-gen use cases.

How vRAN works

vRAN employs network functions virtualization (NFV), enabling operators to efficiently control and route cellular resources – a function that’s crucial for 5G core networks.

The virtualized RAN moves the control functions of hardware base stations to centralized servers, bringing them closer to the network edge. By doing so, operators can finetune their resources to accommodate dynamically changing network traffic.

Service providers can efficiently scale their networks without investing in expensive hardware.

Top business benefits of virtualized RAN

1. Eliminate dependence on proprietary hardware vendors

Earlier, the market was dominated by a few players who provided proprietary hardware and software solutions for RAN. Operators were locked in with one vendor’s ecosystem. The introduction of vRAN has changed all this, providing greater flexibility in hardware, software, and systems integration.

As vRAN adheres to the principles of NFV, it lets operators deploy RAN on generic or commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware. It helps improve network resiliency and utilization. It also simplifies network routing, making it more agile and flexible than hardware-based RAN.

2. Simplify maintenance and increase flexibility

With the virtualization of baseband functions deployed on generic hardware, these functions now reside in centralized data centers. vRAN allows a single uniform hardware platform across the core network, RAN, and the edge. This simplifies the management of the network, reducing operation and maintenance costs.

In addition, network functions from multiple vendors can run on the same hardware, granting increased flexibility to the service provider. Automation software can be enabled to help monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) and simplify maintenance.

3. Enable high scalability

vRAN allows for network resources to be scaled or de-scaled depending on changing network demands. The service provider may allocate or de-allocate its resources depending on specific requirements. A private 5G network, for instance, may not need as many compute resources. On the other hand, a dense urban location will demand that the service provider allocate more resources. Consequently, operators will not have to pay for unused resources, further leveraging the cost efficiency of vRAN, improving resource utilization, and network performance.

4. Ensure swift and easy network upgrades

A vRAN can adapt to changes in the network faster because admins can remotely apply updates with a software patch. And, as vRAN can adapt to rapidly changing network demands given its flexibility, it helps ensure the network is future-proof. A present-day 4G vRAN will only require a software update to enable 5G.

5. Seize innovation opportunities

The features and capabilities of vRAN will, no doubt, mean reduced CAPEX and OPEX. vRAN will also allow operators to innovate upon the 5G ecosystem, unlocking new revenue-generation opportunities that were previously unexplored. It enables the operator to support exclusive features of 5G such as network slicing, voice, massive IoT, and URLLC without implementing any changes to its hardware infrastructure. And since it will ensure faster time-to-market of new services, it will significantly contribute to business success.

Conclusion

vRAN enables service providers to ensure a more reliable and flexible network, optimizing resources and keeping costs low. It will be especially beneficial for private 5G networks. Alepo’s 5G solutions include strategic partnerships with leading technology vendors, helping you create a best-of-breed ecosystem without vendor lock-in.

Find out how you can begin your 5G journey: market.development@alepo.com.

Nitish Muley

Nitish Muley

Senior Engineer

Nitish has spent years developing use cases 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.

Subscribe to the Alepo Newsletter

Private 5G versus WiFi 6: will there be a winner?

Private 5G versus WiFi 6: will there be a winner?

Private 5G versus WiFi 6: will there be a winner?

March 23, 2022

Introduction

Private 5G and WiFi 6 are gradually going mainstream. Both come with their own set of advantages. Private 5G leverages next-gen technology and delivers it over a secure network for a host of enterprise use cases. WiFi 6 can be deployed in stadiums, office buildings, and a host of public places; can enable consumer automotive applications such as in-car entertainment; and provides a host of capabilities such as low latency, high data rates, and more. But are these features enough for WiFi to cover all types of applications, or should operators still use it alongside 5G networks?

How WiFi benefits cellular networks

Private and commercial WiFi networks have been augmenting legacy cellular networks to provide last-mile connectivity for several years now. WiFi has helped extend cellular network coverage in closed public spaces where it would otherwise be difficult for subscribers to find range.

Use cases such as WiFi calling and WiFi offload continue to help operators. They help save bandwidth, reduce operational costs, and reduce network congestion.

In addition, commercial WiFi networks also provide a revenue stream for businesses. As the network is tied to a physical location and has access to detailed information on network user demographics, operators can leverage data to create highly targeted ads and offerings.

And now, as 5G rolls out, WiFi will continue to play a pivotal role as a bridge to and from 5G.

How does private 5G work?

As the name suggests, private 5G is a secure and resilient wireless next-gen private network. It is designed for custom enterprise use cases that demand ultra-high bandwidth, speed, reliability, and ultra-low latency over a secure and private network. It can be deployed for enterprise businesses such as stores, malls, parking lots, manufacturing plants, mining facilities – the possibilities are endless.

Enterprises have the option to deploy and manage these private 5G networks on their own or have them managed by telecom operators or other vendors. Initially, a private 5G network may be somewhat complex to install and operate for an in-house IT team. Telecom operators, as well as vendors such as Amazon, are trying to address this by providing private 5G as a service to enterprises.

Many last mile 5G devices, from routers to phones to other end-use devices, are also slowly hitting the market.

In most cases, private 5G will run on unlicensed spectrum, such as the CBRS spectrum in the US. However, operators providing private 5G network-as-a-service can use other available spectrums for their private 5G deployments to optimize their networks.

Why private 5G is set to displace traditional WiFi

Why private 5G is set to displace traditional WiFi

With the same advantages of a public 5G network such as high throughput, immense capacity, low latency, and inherent security, private 5G provides advantages that far exceed WiFi. This means it has the potential to displace traditional WiFi and other legacy networks, especially in deployments where outdoor and large area coverage is required. This includes:

  • Critical communication networks such as a remote oil rig, where reliability is important.
  • Industrial wireless networks with several sensors, AR/VR, robots, and more, where high bandwidth and low latency are critical.
  • Campus use cases where the ability to make phone calls is important.

What sets WiFi 6 apart

Limited security, scalability, and efficiency have been challenges with traditional WiFi technology. Previous generations of WiFi focused on increasing data rates and speed. WiFi 6 (also known as 802.11ax), however, is the new generation of WiFi technology with a renewed focus on efficiency and performance.

With WiFi 6E, devices can leverage a huge 1.2 GHz (1,200 MHz) wideband over a 6 GHz unlicensed spectrum. WiFi 6E focuses on making the network efficient for multiuser access with performance gains to utilize 80 percent of the bandwidth for the data plane.

In 2021, over 50 percent of all WiFi product shipments were of WiFi 6. Technology research group IDC predicts that there will be 5.2 billion WiFi 6 product shipments by 2025, 41 percent of which will be WiFi 6E devices.

WiFi 6E access points will be backward compatible, which means existing WiFi-enabled devices will continue to work.

Also, WiFi has the advantage of being an incumbent and easy-to-use technology over private 5G. So, WiFi private networks will continue to serve various use cases, from commercial wireless hotspots and Industrial IoT (I-IoT) deployments to indoor high-density wireless networks for large venues.

WiFi 6 will enhance the private 5G experience

WiFi 6 will enhance the private 5G experience

Private 5G will compete with WiFi networks and likely win where security, outdoor coverage, reliability, and low latency are important. But the private 5G market is still in the early stages of adoption.

WiFi, especially with the introduction of WiFi 6E, will continue to be relevant for private networks, considering the devices it supports, ease of operation, and advanced technology. However, it will not sufficiently support all use cases, such as high-mobility and long-range communication requirements, for example.

In fact, for applications like Industry 4.0 use cases, WiFi 6 and private 5G will go hand in hand.

While public 5G networks roll out and provide high data bandwidth, data use will also grow at the same pace. Telecom operators will have to continue their strategy of leveraging private networks to offload calls and data.

Alepo’s AAA solution is designed for carrier offload use cases that benefit both private 5G and private WiFi networks. Further, enterprises that are adopting private cellular networks need a converged core (4G/LTE + 5G) solution so a large percentage of existing 4G devices can also be used on this network. Alepo’s Compact Core is designed exactly with this market need in mind.

Atul Kshirsagar

Atul Kshirsagar

Executive VP – Engineering

Atul drives 5G core and Digital BSS R&D at Alepo. With over 25 years of experience in the field, he speaks with authority on Telco/5G, Internet of Everything, and Cloud/SaaS. Apart from his love for technology, Atul enjoys sports and the outdoors.

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