Saudi operator claims network slicing first

Saudi operator claims network slicing first

Saudi Arabian operator Mobily, alongside vendor Nokia, is claiming a first: the first-ever network slicing trial on a live commercial network.

Nokia has announced that it has successfully piloted 4G and 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) network slicing with Saudi Arabian telecommunications services provider Mobily on its live commercial network – the first sliced FWA deployment in the world.

The theory behind network slicing is fairly straightforward though the practice is arguably technically difficult, and the business model not yet widely applied. The idea is that with the Nokia slicing solution Mobily can divide its network into multiple virtual networks and offer FWA service tiers and premium services to its customers utilizing advanced network resource allocation mechanisms.

Mobily could, for example, offer new FWA services to priority consumer and enterprise customers. This approach also enables slicing per application – including voice, data, online gaming or home office applications.

The ongoing pilot, carried out in Riyadh, took place in a multi-vendor environment and included sliced access, transport and core networks with management and assurance capabilities.

Nokia says its 4G/5G network slicing solution works in LTE, 5G non-standalone (NSA) and 5G standalone (SA) networks. It provides mobile broadband connectivity from 4G/5G devices and customer premises equipment (CPE) to cloud applications through sliced access, transport and core.

During the pilot, Mobily utilized Nokia’s AirScale 4G/5G base stations with its NetAct solution with management, control and assurance, as well as Nokia’s routers, Network Services Platform (NSP) and Digital Operations software. Mobily also used existing third-party core as well as Nokia’s FastMile 4G/5G FWA gateway and third-party CPE products. The slicing capabilities are implemented with software upgrades and configurations into Mobily’s existing network. 

Nokia’s slicing solution supports existing LTE, 5G NSA and 5G SA devices. The slice continuity between LTE and 5G allows operators to maximally utilize their network coverage and assets such as available spectrum for new mobile services.

As for making network slicing into a commercial proposition, Nokia says its customers are already working on a variety of slicing use cases including enterprise applications, transportation, manufacturing, utilities, public safety and smart city applications.

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