Modern applications, from critical Internet of Things (IoT) systems to real time multimedia communications, require low and stable latencies in order to be useful. 5G will bring more bandwidth at very low latencies which will enable new use cases and enhance the performance of applications which are currently used over 4G.

Apart from the air segment where 5G brings a significative improvement, the Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) architectures associated to running the services must be able to warrant that latency values are contained within a range of tolerable values. 5GTANGO puts special focus on innovative strategies to deal with the different network requirements of a wide range of applications from the Sonata NFV Service Platform. This means that the operator will not only be able to use different quality of service (QoS) defined by 5QI values from the device to the 5G Core, but also in the NFV platform.

Network Slicing and QoS

This extension of Network Slicing to the NFV platform and the network segments enables the ability to customise the end-to-end QoS provided by 5G network to specific user profiles [1]. The Network Slicing feature developed by the 5GTANGO team had the final goal of being able to meet the QoS requirements of different applications. This is achieved by enforcing the use of the network segment which better fits the QoS profiles specified in the Network Service definition. In order to implement this, the Service Platform takes advantage of the WIM (WAN Infrastructure Manager) TAPI (Transport API) also developed during the project. The use of this extension enables the control of all the network segments that the traffic of a specific Network Service goes through.

 

SLA and QoS

Another innovation which enables the deployment of services with very low-delay requirements is the introduction of Service Level Agreements (SLAs), which are agreed by the operator and business customers so that both of them can know beforehand what performance can be expected from the network. The SLA platform uses the 5GTANGO monitoring system to watch the performance of the Network Service and, it triggers an SLA violation alert in the event that any compromised parameter reaches the defined thresholds (e.g. the real-time traffic jitter exceeds a defined value of X ms).  This enables the setup of premium and added-value services, which can help operators to use their networks in a more efficient way and, at the same time, increase their average revenue per user (ARPU). A comprehensive explanation of the SLAs approach followed by 5GTANGO can be found in this post (The Importance of Service Level Agreements in the 5G era). This innovative combination of Network Slices and SLAs enables the application of different QoS not only within the datacenter, but also in network segments controlled by the service operator.

Enforcing QoS in the Communication pilot

The communication pilot developed during the 5GTANGO project will show how this new features can be applied to a real use case.  The pilot consists of a complete video-conference real-time application based on the Sippo Unified Communication solution developed by Quobis. In order to take advantage of the newly-introduced capabilities, the 5GTANGO team implemented two services (Gold and Silver) which use different network slices in order to provide different QoS parameters to the final user of the video-conference. Each service flavour enforces different values of jitter and packet loss in the network segments controlled by the NFV platform. For example, an operator could assign the Gold flavour to enterprise subscribers and the Silver flavour to free best-effort users.

It is worth noting that this QoS enforcement can also be used in other use cases where network latency is not only a matter of user quality of experience (QoE), but a strong requirement in terms of safety such as Connected Car applications or the operation of Smart Grids.

 

References

[1.]  “An Introduction to Network Slicing GSMA GSMA-An-Introduction-to-Network-Slicing”, online: https://www.gsma.com/futurenetworks/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/GSMA-An-Introduction-to-Network-Slicing.pdf

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