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Private 5G, Network Slicing, and Virtual Networks

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[The Eiffel Tower, Paris, France - Adobe Stock]


- Private 5G Networks

Private 5G is a wireless network technology that provides cellular connectivity for private network use cases such as private businesses, third-party providers, and municipalities. Private 5G is an alternative to Wi-Fi and other wireless options such as public Long Term Evolution (LTE) and public 5G.

In the past, private organizations were often unable to build their own cellular networks for private use because the cost of licensing and purchasing carrier-grade equipment was too high. That changed when the FCC launched Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) in 2015. CBRS is a 150 megahertz spectrum that operates in the 3,550 MHz to 3,700 MHz range.

CBRS uses a three-tier priority concept with the following licenses:

  • Existing access devices reserved for government and fixed satellite installations;
  • Priority access to purchased and reserved channels; and
  • Universal authorization access layer, no license required, free to use when available.


- Building the Next-Generation Wireless Networks (NGWNs)

The integration of communications with different scales, diverse radio access technologies, and various network resources renders next-generation wireless networks (NGWNs) highly heterogeneous and dynamic. Emerging use cases and applications, such as machine to machine communications, autonomous driving, and factory automation, have stringent requirements in terms of reliability, latency, throughput, and so on. Such requirements pose new challenges to architecture design, network management, and resource orchestration in NGWNs. 

Network slicing is the operators’ best answer on how to build and manage a network, that meets and exceeds the emerging requirements from a wide range of enterprises. The way to achieve a sliced network is to transform it into a set of logical networks on top of a shared infrastructure. Each logical network is designed to serve a defined business purpose and comprises of all the required network resources, configured and connected end-to-end. 


- 5G Network Slicing Technology

Network slicing can be defined as a network configuration that allows the creation of multiple networks (virtualized and independent) on top of a common physical infrastructure. This configuration has become an important part of the overall 5G architectural landscape. Each "slice" or portion of the network can be allocated based on application, use case, or customer-specific needs.

While services such as smart parking meters value high reliability and safety, they are more forgiving in terms of latency, while others, such as self-driving cars, may require ultra-low latency (URLLC) and high data speeds. Network slicing in 5G supports these diverse services and facilitates efficient reallocation of resources from one virtual network slice to another.

5G-enabled or enhanced applications require greater bandwidth, more connections, and lower latency than previous generations. Each use case has its own unique performance requirements, making a one-size-fits-all approach to service delivery obsolete.


- 5G Virtual Networks

A Virtual Network Function (VNF) replaces network hardware with software that can be changed and scaled to meet burgeoning 5G demands. VNFs are network services running as software processes on off-the-shelf server hardware. They replace dedicated hardware devices. By virtualizing essential network functions that were previously the domain of dedicated hardware appliances, operators can deploy new services, enhance security and tailor network performance at scale using software alone. 

NFs are the actual implementation of network functions as software processes. Network Functions Virtualization Infrastructure (NFVI) is an architecture or framework for implementing VNFs on a wide scale. NFVI is a fundamental concept of data center operation which is essential to the creation, deployment, and effective scale of new 5G services. 

NFVI enables 5G network slicing, allowing various virtual networks to run on top of a single, physical infrastructure. This enables operators to divide a physical network into virtual networks capable of supporting multiple radio access networks (RANs). It can optimize resource provisioning of the VNFs for price and energy, scale VNFs and ensure VNFs consistently operate properly.



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