Virtualization crucial for 5G: ETRI

06 Jun 2014

5G isn’t just about faster mobile data speeds – it also requires network virtualization, because existing 4G core networks just aren’t going to cut it.

That’s the view of Korean R&D organization ETRI, which views virtualization and cloud as the keys to solving the overall problem of revenues being decoupled from data growth.

Kim Yeonglin, CTO/managing director for the wired and wireless convergence research department of ETRI, says that 5G will sport three chief characteristics: “Users will be surrounded by devices, services will be user/context aware, and networks will follow users wherever they go.”

Consequently, he said, 5G needs to be designed to deal with the main problem faced by mobile operators: namely, the unsustainable situation of operating separately managed networks (3G, 4G, Wi-Fi and in many cases fixed-line), which is insanely complex, expensive to run and pretty much impossible to scale as traffic demand grows – especially with most data traffic being crammed through the same packet gateway.

“We doubt that the current 4G core architecture will work,” Kim said at the SDN & Openflow Asia-Pacific Congress on Thursday.

Kim said virtualization technologies like SDN and NFV will be crucial to the vision of 5G as a virtualized network where wireline, wireless, network computing and storage are converged onto a 5G core served by software-defined resources.

In terms of other technologies in the 5G arsenal, ETRI is also looking at technical radio access solutions like millimeter-wave and sub-6 GHz, as well as “moving small cell” technologies that enable devices to double as base stations.

Kim also said that ETRI is looking at IP-over-DWDM as a transport architecture for 5G, since optical will play a important role to help reduce latency”.

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