Supports individual needs, network slicing, and 5G avatars
According to reports, ZTE recently worked with China Telecom Zhejiang Corporation to help China Central Group open the nation's first 5G independent networking (SA) site, and successfully trialled "5G slicing + edge computing + intelligent manufacturing" in Zhejiang to help enterprises build 5G Smart new factory.
So, what are the slices mentioned in the news? What technical advantages does it have? In the 5G era, what are the application scenarios of network slicing technology? As an important guarantee for service delay and security, what other bottlenecks does network slicing technology face in application?
In response to the above issues, reporters from the Science and Technology Daily interviewed relevant experts in the industry.
Cut 5G network into multiple virtual networks
For most members of the public, the concept of network slicing looks professional and unfamiliar. Huang Tao, a professor at the School of Information and Communication Engineering of Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, explained to the reporter of Science and Technology Daily that network slicing refers to the technology of dividing the operator's basic network resources according to user needs and assigning them to users for use. These requirements include time delay , Bandwidth, etc.
From the perspective of technical principles, through the virtualization of various physical or logical network resources, such as frequency bands, time, equipment, ports, bandwidth, etc., network slicing divides network resources into finer granularity or aggregates into coarser granularity With the help of related software, network resources are flexibly allocated to different users on demand. While satisfying the individual needs of each user, the network resources of different users are guaranteed to be isolated from each other.
According to Yan Huaizhi, director of the Institute of Computer Networks and Adversarial Technology at Beijing Institute of Technology, the so-called network slicing is essentially an on-demand networking method for mobile communication networks in the 5G era.
"We can compare the 5G mobile communication network to a whole piece of bread. The operator cuts this piece of bread into many pieces, that is, multiple end-to-end virtual networks to support more services. Each network slice is from the wireless access network. The bearer network and the core network are all logically isolated to adapt to different needs and application scenarios. "Yan Huaizhi explained.
So, is network slicing exclusive to the 5G era?
In this regard, Huang Tao does not agree. He pointed out that network slicing is known to everyone because of the development of 5G, but from a technical perspective, network slicing can be considered as a universal network capability, which is not exclusive to 5G. In fact, in 2005, the academic community proposed the concept of network slicing. Some virtual private networks and 4G mobile communication networks can also apply this technology and partially isolate between different users, but the degree of isolation is not thorough. This kind of network The technique can be called soft slicing.
"The vision of 5G is to technically achieve a strong isolation of the resources of the 5G network from end to end (including air interface, backhaul network, and core network) on the basis of retaining the soft slicing capability. Huang Tao further pointed out that from the service experience See how much network resources are allocated to users, users can definitely use them. This technology can be called hard slicing, but at present, implementing 5G network end-to-end hard slicing still faces relatively large technical challenges.
Can be customized with different isolation slices
Some experts said that the scope of influence of 4G networks is mainly concentrated in the consumer field, and 5G networks are expected to bring great changes to the industry's production field. In the 5G era, how will network slicing play an important role?
Yan Huaizhi pointed out that the basic network architecture and its excellent performance provided by 5G networks provide the prerequisites for the recent application of network slicing. The two complement each other and complement each other. The previous 2G to 4G networks could only meet the single voice communication or Internet access needs in the consumer field, and it was difficult to handle the massive data in the new 5G application scenarios. In the 2G to 4G era, network slicing has neither strong application requirements nor complete basic network support conditions.
At present, the large-scale application of 5G is far from universal, and the related application ecology is in the process of cultivation. Yan Huaizhi believes that typical 5G application scenarios that can be expected in the future include intelligent systems, traditional communications and network services, and industrial Internet networks. These applications can be achieved by building different network slices.
"These applications have large differences in application requirements such as service mode, available bandwidth, transmission rate, security, and reliability, so they place high requirements on network slicing technology." Yan Huaizhi said.
In this regard, Huang Tao also expressed similar views. He pointed out that the production requirements of some industries for the network are more stringent. If network resource competition occurs, it will bring great risks and uncertainty to the production process. However, the combination of "soft slice + hard slice" technology, 5G According to the needs of different industries, network slices with different isolation can be customized to meet the diverse needs of networks in different industries.
Huang Tao gave an example. For example, it can be divided into low-latency slices, high-bandwidth slices, and massive connection slices. If the user has extreme requirements for security, it can also be delivered to the end-to-end exclusive slice of the user.
Therefore, 5G network slicing, as a basic technology, can serve a wide range of industry applications. Huang Tao gave examples, such as VR live broadcast, autonomous driving, telemedicine, and so on. Among them, the most anticipated is the application of 5G network slicing in the field of industrial Internet of Things.
"If combined with advanced technologies such as edge computing and artificial intelligence, 5G network slicing can provide manufacturing industries with stronger 'limbs' and smarter 'brains', and comprehensively observe, analyze and optimize manufacturing processes and processes. So as to realize intelligent manufacturing and improve the overall production efficiency of society. "Huang Tao said.
Implementing end-to-end hard slicing is not easy
The advantages of network slicing technology are obvious, but there are also many practical challenges in practical applications.
In this regard, Yan Huaizhi analyzed.On the one hand, different 5G network slice applications need to configure independent networks corresponding to applications and services, and their access mechanisms, protocol stacks, interfaces, etc. need to achieve end-to-end coupling. Unified and standardized access network architecture to support different slice users and service access. On the other hand, the deployment and management of network slicing is relatively complicated, and there are still many technical difficulties in terms of resource sharing, load balancing, billing mechanism, and start and stop of slicing.
"Therefore, finding a complete technical solution for network slicing requires the concerted efforts of all network product suppliers and network service operators to build a complete end-to-end full range of standard collaboration and product systems, and the cost of network slicing should be effectively balanced. And efficiency issues. "Yan Huaizhi pointed out.
In fact, from a technical point of view, it is not easy to finally achieve end-to-end hard slicing for 5G network slicing. This requires isolation of network resources, including air interface, backhaul network, mobile core network, and other links. In each link, it also faces a series of technical challenges, such as the isolation of air interfaces in high-density access scenarios, the minimum isolation granularity of the backhaul network bandwidth, and the corresponding business processes of the core network.
"In addition, considering the end-to-end network in the true sense, 5G has only completed the" last mile "access. The Internet, which cannot be ignored, or even more critical, is to complete the long-distance transmission." Huang Tao pointed out, For data transmission, the service model adopted by the traditional Internet is "Best-Effort", that is, the network will transmit data to the greatest extent possible, but cannot guarantee performance such as delay and reliability. This has resulted in the traditional Internet environment, which is difficult to match the capabilities provided by 5G network slicing, which may become another bottleneck for the development of industry applications.
In this regard, Huang Tao made an image analogy: "This is like only guaranteeing the user's distance from the door to the door of the community, but not the distance after leaving the community. The user experience is incomplete."
In his view, to solve this problem, the Internet needs to be upgraded from the traditional "best effort" to "determinable and controllable". This will be a major research direction for the future network, which will fundamentally change the Internet's genes , Promote the upgrade of "consumer Internet" to "production Internet".