Commercial readiness for E2E Slicing and PNI based Private Mobility Architectures and Solutions (1/2)

According to the latest GSMA report 5G connections will grow at CAGR of 100% every year till 20205 making 500M+ connections today pass 2.9B + in 2025 .

Even in terms of global spend we have seen in 2020 50% of Carrier’s spend in more than 140 Big Telco’s who deployed 5G went for 5G related deployments. By 2025 we expect 80% of Telco’s spend will go directly or in directly in 5G .

This data proves there is a big gap still exists between what technology has enabled us to achieve in 5G and business models like Sell out , Sell in , B2B , Aggregation , roaming etc which will enable us to make money from 5G .

When it comes to making a strong business in 5G is to monetize vertical markets by minimizing dedicated NPN (Non public networks) use through support of Wider use cases using “Network Slicing” by using as

much Public Networks of Telco’s as possible .

In these two part Epilogue , i will focus on key industry progress and what is possible today in this Part1 followed by holistic analysis of Gaps in Part2 specially on RAN and Transport side and to see how we can solve them in 2022-2023 Era .

Commercial Network Slicing Journey Cart on the Go

We as a Industry waited for 3GPP Release16 (ASN.1 ready on June 2020) to really experiment with 5G slicing although its early specs are already ready in Release15 , this was primarily to really make Slicing appealing with

  • New use cases support specially on uRLLC , mIOT and eMBB QOS , as we all know the advances on V2X , QOS and vertical use cases is a key for 5G and so for slicing .
  • SBA and software control require not only 3GPP specs but more modular approaches to build NF’s which is not possible in VNF era

Having said this there is no real commercial deployment of Network slicing , those which are ready are limited in scope and variety and not serve a wide industry .In order to speedup deployment with “ready architectures” it is vital to keep pace with following

  1. Alignment with terminals and chipsets to support all slicing profiles and NST’s
  2. Definition of business models including roaming
  3. Upgrades on OSS/BSS and E2E SO to support slicing functions like CSMF , NSMF and Assurance systems
  4. Test a number of use cases with different characteristics
  5. Test agility at scale
  6. Focus on RAN and Transport Slicing
  7. Test additional partners specially ISV’s

This a general state of industry progress and we expect solving above challenges sequentially is the way forward to ensure wide industry adoption is ready by 2023 .

Focus on Private Networks vs Slicing

There is an ever going discussion between different industry players to favor one over others specially Telco’s obviously whose main target is to capitalize publuic networks vs Hyperscale’s and private business whose focus is on building dedicated Private Networks .

However as with major facets of life there is tradeoff always and so is case for this as it makes sense to offer different use cases via different solution i.e Private Networks or Slicing .

According to the latest research published by Ericsson 90% of addressable revenue in Telco oriented key use cases will come to Telco pockets using slices these industries are Healthcare , Transport ,Government, Utilities and Manufacturing . This is why i believe in 2021-2022 this is where Public Networks need focus on while for other key use cases specially industry of using Dedicated Private Networks .

The use cases between Telco’s and Dedicated can be divided as follows .

Telco Lead

Wide Area use For example health , safety , govt using SNPN (Standalone Non Public Networks)

Industry Lead

Wide Area use For example health , safety , govt using PNI-NPN (Public Network Integrated NPN)

If you want to learn more about this i suggest to keep watching my blogs as based on ANZ market and industry trend i will share latest analysis soon .

Monitoring and AEF (API Exposure Functions)

According to latest research the 5G connections in 2021 EoY will reach 580M+ and with architectures like slicing the type of use cases and services needed to be supported on Telco network will be huge , it will require new paradigms of networks e.g NRF , NDAF and API exposures to third party to build , manage ,sell slices .

The other domain is the observability and monitoring which not only need to solved on Telco Infrasturcture side using solutions like Prometheus , Kibana , ELK but also on Use UE side in the form of inbuilt of separated agents like PicoNeo3 , Immetrix , AVEQ SUrmeter app and use the real time data together with API exposrue to build services .

QOE and SLA as key criteria for PNI Private Networks

The Definition of QOE and SLA is vital both for business reasons and for technical architecture .

As per my analysis the Slicing orchestration and ordering systems must be capable to build slices with following characteristics .

  • Latency—-> E2E packet traversal in real time
  • Reliability —> 5 9’s for Telecom services
  • High Precision —-> characteristics for TSN and high quality networks specially or Release16 based network
  • Security —> Ability to sell Security as a service for enterprise
  • Isolation —> what type of Slice isolation is a must and to have minimum impact on existing Pre-emption based Telecom Services
  • Traffic Patterns:

Traffic patterns is a new and evolving domain because obviously most of Telco’s do not understanding the traffic patterns and architectures of Enterprise which can be strictly East West instead of Telco based North South .

Ability to draw this topology , give visibility , to adjust it and a policy framework to adjust in real time are a must design for slicing solutions

“Can Telco become a Managed service provider as well as Infra Service provider  from RF to applications” offering a solution that has below characteristics

•Flexibility to add New devices or solutions for a use case (E.g Tetra)

•Efficiency e.g resource optimization over time using ML/AI when in cohesion with Public NW

•Data governance and security isolation

•Cost Effective

•Optimize with capacity (Cost /bit ) 

Why i believe above model is a key to success because obviously the unified model with different value will fulfil most use case requirements an example below .

ModelCloud GamingAR/VR
*less also ok
as long as can guarantee it
6FoVNo need Wide FoV with six
Degree of Freedom
MotionNo needTactile Level intellignece

Image quality and real time update is a key characteristics of any X-box style VR service .Bad quality which can not be corrected by FEC will lead to bad CEM and non stable latency will lead to motion sickness and complaints .

E2E Slicing Architectures biggest Gaps

The Private networks delivery using PNI NPN is still not well mature and there needs a full paper to write summary to cover each domain , however i firmly believe during last 18months there is a huge industry push on Core , OSS/BSS side along leaving biggest challenges on RAN and Transport as summarized below

Transport Slicing Architectures

Early commercial use cases of slices has proved slicing implementation in form of VLAN QOS , DSCP of ToS all require IPV6 and novel means to re-design the network .

I think as we start deploy slices it will be more and more hard to imagine any case to deploy any service even in latest 5G Core networks without it being passed via brown filed transport networks .

  • Handoff of QOS and Slice SLA between MW , IP and multi domains
  • Handoff of SLA between Metro and Back bone networks
  • IPV6 traffic engineering as it traverses old legacy MPLS networks
  • Multi domain architectures and to deliver a multi layer
  • Real time routing updates based on slice real time KPI’s

RAN Slicing Architectures

RAN networks are biggest constraint in a Telecom Networks , the further challenge comes when we find a situation where over lay networks i.e Slices infringe with native customer services which are protected by regulatory and Law like transparency and fair usage .

Following are top domains to be addressed on PNI Private Networks

Resource Blocks

Those who work on RAN knows RRB is a biggest bottleneck to ensure service availability vs performance e.g if you have a multi service network how much % you can reserve for each and how much will be shared and what is mechanism to use specially when resources are scarce .

Will resource RRB use will conflict with Fair use principle ?


RAN performance and resource control is more difficult when we combine slices and logical overlays in the context of latest Release16 features like TSN , Non Slot based scheduling and UL pre-scheduling

How Pre-scheduling will impact Resource usage is vital for SLA delivery

Admission Control

How to ensure high priority cases like admission is not blocked in a restraint environment .Connection mode , establishment and steps to allow CAC are all critical

By pass complex RBAC for resource access is vital for RAN use cases delivery in constraint environments


Define architecture , testing and performance for Slice Pre-emption


USRP A.K.A UE Route Selection Policy is a key feature in 3GPP Release16 that makes it possible to deliver control of slices on App level compared to UE level and enable control and relationship between both flows and routing .

It can deliver following controls

  • APP ID
  • IP
  • DNN
  • SSC mode
  • Location
  • Time Window

With the App based services use rise its very important to investigate these novel features nd how it can interwork with both RAN , Transport to deliver end to end services and resilience for the 5G Telecom Networks .

Standardization gaps

Having said this Slicing involves a myriad of services and requirements that are not all covered by Telecom SDO’s and further even with in telecom there are many organizations involves like ETSI , IETF , GSMA , BBF etc .

In my later paper i plan to write towards end of 2021 i will give a summary on the gaps and next steps to ensure we can build a unified architecture that is agreed not only by Telco’s but also by Vertical industry and that can help us build a PNI NPN business models that are global in scale with a promise of roaming as well . Thanks and keep learning keep growing .

Published by

Saad Sheikh

I am a Senior Architect with a passion to architect and deliver solutions addressing business adoption of the Cloud and Automation/Orchestration covering both Telco and IT Applications industry. My work in carrier Digital transformation involve Architecting and deploying Platforms for both Telco and IT Applications including Clouds both Open stack and container platforms, carrier grade NFV ,SDN and Infra Networking , DevOps CI/CD , Orchestration both NFVO and E2E SO , Edge and 5G platforms for both Consumer and Enterprise business. On DevOps side i am deeply interested in TaaS platforms and journey towards unified clouds including transition strategy for successful migration to the Cloud Please write to me on

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