Network slicing is expected to play a critical role in 5G networks because of the huge variety of use cases and new services 5G will support – often with very different functionality and performance requirements.
An autonomous car, for example, will rely on 'vehicle-to-anything' communication which requires low latency but not necessarily a high throughput. A streaming service watched while the car is in motion, however, will require a high throughput and be susceptible to latency. With 5G slicing, both could be delivered over the same physical network on virtual network slices.
Network slicing will maximise the flexibility of 5G networks, optimising use of the physical infrastructure and the allocation of resources – and enabling greater energy and cost efficiencies compared with earlier generations of 'one-size-fits-all' mobile networks. The virtual networks will support different radio access networks (RANs) – or different types of services running across a single RAN.
A whole host of new revenue opportunities will be opened up by this approach, as it enables mobile operators to tailor their offerings to address specific use cases and customer requirements. But the real key to success will lie in the data that underpins such decision making – and the ability to understand and manage the large, complex datasets involved.
From controlling robots on a production line to smart metering or telesurgery, it's data that gives valuable context to decisions. Combining data across different cities, for example, to show where people live, key transport routes, concentrations of certain health issues and so on could help ensure telesurgery centres are situated in the most suitable locations.
On the roads, combining data from a variety of potential 5G slices such as vehicle performance monitoring, traffic flow information, driving data for insurance purposes and dashcam live feeds could reveal valuable clues as to the cause of accidents – and, in turn, lead to improvements in the road network.
And manufacturing is expected to be one of the largest beneficiaries of 5G services, with billions of machines, devices and sensors all wireless connected – and all generating huge amounts of data. The so-called 'industry 4.0' revolution is set to change the concept of manufacturing from massive production to massive customisation – with a flexible and programmable environment linking machines, processes, robots and people.
But dynamic production to meet rapidly evolving market needs depends on accurate data on everything from weather forecasts and major events to demographic trends in specific towns. And that's exactly where our state-of-the-art spatial database can help – by tackling the challenges of turning vast quantities of disparate datasets into actionable information.
In just seconds, our technology harnesses trillions of data points to discover hidden patterns and create valuable new perspectives to unleash the promise offered by 5G services. No matter how you slice it.