As 5G network deployment hastens across the world, their capabilities are growing also. As part of its continued efforts to support operators’ needs to offer advanced 5G functionality, Nokia has announced that international communications platform company BICS has strengthened its network with a software-defined networking (SDN) controller it has developed, while China United Network Communication Group (CUC) is trialling a 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) solution based on its converged multi-access gateway.
Through implementing the Nokia SDN controller into its network, BICS said it would be able to unlock more intelligent traffic routing and pave the way for network slicing of local and roaming traffic. The new intelligence module automates optimal traffic routing on the network, improving overall performance for consumers while laying the groundwork for 5G network slicing.
The SDN controller will be used to manage capacity and flow routing across its global network, monitoring routing paths across the network and making decisions to adapt and optimise traffic flow at all times. The SDN has been tailored to create a bespoke model for use cases specific to BICS’s needs.
While this move further strengthens BICS’s network in the short term, it also paves the way for future 5G use cases such as bandwidth calendaring and network slicing. These use cases mean more intelligent use of bandwidth across 5G networks, unlocking new options for meeting the growing connectivity requirements for enterprises. This improved network distribution is designed to work both on an application level, such as a network slice for public safety applications, or can be scheduled at predefined times, such as “calendaring” bandwidth every month for a cloud data backup.
As the industry implements 5G network slicing at scale, the SDN controller will be a key component for BICS to manage local and roaming traffic slices. This is particularly significant as current 5G slicing use cases are only for local traffic, meaning it opens the door for future use cases supporting global connectivity. This next level of innovation will depend on operators adopting 5G and slicing at scale in the future.
The more immediate impact of this development is that BICS’s network will be better placed to serve low-latency and critical applications. Use cases such as live video streaming for safety applications, at an industrial site, for example, are seen as benefiting from lower latency and network reliability in the case of outages. This will be delivered via intelligent low-latency routing, meaning the SDN will find the most effective routes for each traffic type, automating switches to guarantee continuous connectivity.
“BICS is investing heavily in its software solutions ecosystem, and this new module is just the latest development in this effort,” said Jorn Vercamert, vice-president of products and solutions at BICS. “Greater network intelligence is worth investing in – it means even better service for our customers, and by extension, the end-customers of those operators.
“BICS’s network carries around half of the world’s roaming traffic, so this move re-affirms our strength in the global communications landscape and is also a future investment for when the industry fully moves to 5G and looks to deploy network slicing at scale.”
For its part, CUC will adopt the FWA technology for its existing network in Guangdong in the first such test in the China market. By integrating the fixed and mobile network, CUC will be able to scale network bandwidth and deliver more broadband services in the future to its customers through its 5G network.
The Nokia Multi Access Gateway is intended to enable CUC to minimise time-to-market and optimise network synergies by terminating both fixed wireless and wireline broadband services on its existing Broadband Network Gateway (BNG) footprint. The BNG is based on Nokia’s 7750 Service Router (SR), powered by its FP routing silicon and Service Router Operating System (SR OS).
The solution is claimed to offer “unrivalled” performance, scale and versatility in processing large traffic volumes from 5G user equipment, thereby enhancing the customer experience and evolving the fixed wireless network for future needs.
“We are pleased to work with CUC to explore this innovative solution in the China market. This solution will help CUC vastly extend the range, speed and capacity of its existing fixed wireless access network with increased 5G bandwidth utilisation,” said Markus Borchert, CEO of Nokia Shanghai Bell. “As a result, they will be able to enhance their business customers’ experience while also providing lower cost and TCO.”