Vendors and operators combine to develop 5G architecture concepts

Telco architectures never die, they just decompose

5GPPP has brought together a clutch of major vendors and operators to work under its auspices on developing new concepts, and potentially commercialised technology, that would support a new architecture suitable for 5G.

The key challenge of a 5G network architecture is to be able to allocate resources across multi-layer networks to service use cases with very different performance and security requirements. To do that from within a single 5G network will almost certainly require a new core network and control layer architecture.

Most proposals to date have floated the idea of a common control layer presiding over distributed user plane elements, such as the recent work by Nokia and SK Telecom. Work within the 5GPP architeture initiative, code-named 5G NORMA (5G Novel Radio Multiservice adaptive network Architecture), will develop the NFV-SDN concept of adaptive (de)composition and allocation of network functions, which flexibly decomposes network functions and places the resulting functions in the most appropriate location, under SDN control.

There’s little further detail yet, with the group saying it would like to begin a two and a half year programme in July 2015. With NEC, Alcatel Lucent and Nokia involved, it’s reasonable to assume the work will lean heavily on the virtualisation, SDN and cloud management techniques these companies are well on with already. That said, it’s clear 5GPPP would like to see new technologies, and even new businesses, emerge from this project . That would justify its raison d’etre to establish Europe as a powerhouse in 5G.

It said: “Key objectives include the creation and dissemination of innovative concepts on the 5G mobile network architecture for the 5G era. Some of these may be captured in products or patents, while others may emerge from the process and working engagements. Emphasis will also be placed on commercialisation, including partnerships and start-up creation.”

5G NORMA members:

Operators: Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefonica

Vendors and IT: Alcatel-Lucent, NEC, Nokia Networks, ATOS

Research and consulting: Azcom Technology, Nomor Research, Real Wireless

Academia: Kaiserslautern University, Kings College London, University Carlos III Madrid