The 5G core and NFV: Different sides of the same coin?

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The 5G network core is supposed to be fully virtualised and cloud-native. But formulation of the 5G standards has not been harmonised with the broader NFV project. What impact will this have on service innovation?

Description

Format: PDF filePages: 39 pagesCharts: 5Author: David MartinPublication Date: October 2019

Table of contents

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
    • The 5G core is an instance of standardised, operationalised NFV
    • 3GPP has specified two 5G core standards: Non-standalone (NSA) and Standalone (SA)
    • The 5G core standards are designed for the ‘core’ telco business
    • The 5G core standards are also defined with vendors’ interests very much to the fore
    • But the 5G core standards are in some respects inconsistent with the goals, status and methodology of the broader NFV project
    • Rakuten Mobile: The tension between cloud-nativity and operational NFV pragmatism
  • Rakuten Mobile: A case of (not quite yet) operational NFV – but not as virtualised and cloud-native as claimed
    • Is Rakuten’s network truly cloud-native, multi-vendor and fully virtualised?
    • The Rakuten Cloud Platform is a medium-term, pragmatic compromise – but not a long-term blueprint
  • An alternative, NFV-driven approach to 5G: What, how and when?
    • Alternative thinking: Telco-specific cores for new services and use cases
    • Telcos must adopt a ‘third age’ approach to 5G, not a ‘first age’ one
  • Conclusion: 5G and NFV – head and tail of the same coin?
  • Next steps
    • Index

 

Table of Figures

Figure 1: Conflicting drivers for 5G core virtualisation
Figure 2: NSA core and dual-mode LTE / 5G NR operation
Figure 3: Non-standalone 5G core basic architecture
Figure 4: Rakuten’s end-to-end virtualised 5G network architecture
Figure 5: Three types of distributed data centre across the Rakuten Cloud Platform

Keywords: 3GPP, 5G, 5G NR, LTE, Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV), NSA core