One of the key potential benefits of 5G networks is the ability to build scalable and dedicated logical/virtual networks, and research from Amdocs has revealed that such capability is a top concern for communication service providers (CSPs) and operators.
Fundamentally, network slicing allows CSPs to support diverse services with specific performance or control requirements on a common network platform to address a large variety of use cases, services, industries and customers.
In its research, Amdocs aimed to better understand just how much a priority such capability is to the CSPs and to gain insight into their approach to 5G network slice management and monetisation.
In collaboration with Coleman Parkes, Amdocs surveyed 50 global CSPs and found that 54% were already trialling a 5G network slicing solution, while 30% plan to trial one by the end of this year.
CSPs are currently focused on simplifying network infrastructure, reducing the level of complexity and improving efficiency in 5G, which are main drivers for CSPs adopting a 5G network slicing management and automation solution.
The research revealed that the top three benefits that CSPs expect to gain from network slicing were simplification and automation of the network (66%); an enhanced and targeted customer experience (52%); and reduced time-to-market and time-to-customer for network services (50%).
Almost three-quarters (74%) of respondents stated that the service-based use cases – such as the internet of things (IoT), smart homes and connected cars – would likely see the biggest impact of 5G network slicing.
And this will happen as CSPs prepare to offer bespoke 5G connectivity for specific use cases to ensure their customers benefit from higher speeds and capacity, along with lower-latency. Using 5G network slicing for vertical industry-based use cases – such as health, agriculture and manufacturing – came second at 18%.
Additionally, Amdocs found that 76% of CSPs believe that to cut time-to-market and reduce fail risk/cost, it is vital to automate the end-to-end network slice lifecycle from design to fulfilment and operations. Moreover, 70% believed their current operational systems cannot handle the adaptive, real-time resource allocation needed for 5G network slicing management.
In terms of how slicing will be introduced, 52% believed network slice as a service (NSaaS) will be the leading approach to network slice monetisation, while 30% expect to charge for specific quality-of-service parameters such as throughput and latency. Just under an eighth of CSPs intend to support hundreds of network slices, while 44% plan to support tens of slices.
“With virtual infrastructure and programmable 5G networks, the granularity and speed with which CSPs can introduce and deliver services will substantially impact their ability to monetise the network,” said Oren Marmur, head of network functions virtualisation (NFV) at Amdocs.
“A 5G slicing management entity for holistic, automated end-to-end network slice lifecycle management must therefore be an integral part of the CSP’s 5G monetisation platform, enabling them to best position the organisation to revolutionise its service offerings.
“This, in turn, based on a wide range of new 5G use cases, will enable them to unleash a whole new world of network services and monetisation possibilities that can support complex consumer and enterprise business models.”