As its name suggests, Network Slicing consists in cutting up a network into logical sub-networks, called “slices”. Each network slice is developed, deployed, and managed independently – but deployed – on a shared physical infrastructure.
This solution enables operators to adapt the mobile network and levels of service to the specific needs of different types of services and users in real time.
Indeed, Orange structures the use cases of 5G into three families:
- 5G mobile broadband, which equates to an improvement in the “traditional” usage we have of our smartphone;
- 5G massive IoT, which enables low-speed connection of several billion sensors and connected objects;
- and 5G Ultra Low Latency High Reliability, aimed at critical applications in the areas of connected healthcare, industry 4.0, or autonomous mobility.
As the network slices are configurable according to the uses that they support, it is possible to allocate dedicated resources to each one and thus deliver the right level of performance (in terms of reliability, security, latency, bandwidth capacity or coverage).
A 5G network split into virtual slices can thus support several types of application simultaneously – both consumer and business – without them treading on each other’s toes. We can for example imagine allocating a network slice to virtual reality, to emergency medicine, or to vehicle management.
Although Network Slicing was already technically possible with 4G, it will be made more flexible and more dynamic thanks to 5G technology, which is bringing mobile networks forwards towards more virtualisation. This virtualisation is necessary for Network Slicing to fulfil all of its promises in terms of network flexibility and optimisation, thus making it possible to go from a one-size-fits-all approach to specialised connectivity services for certain uses.