Understanding Network Slicing, the Next Big Thing in 5G

Overview A distinct feature of the 5G system architecture is network slicing, which enables customized use of networks to meet the different needs of companies and industries.

A hundred times faster than 4G and enabling new services for smart cities, smart homes, wearables, health care services and more, 5G is poised to redefine digital lifestyles.

From use cases in virtual and augmented reality to letting users stream higher quality video, there is no defined, single purpose for 5G and its capabilities. Network slicing, a feature being introduced with 5G, will open up more customizable access and performance options that promise to improve efficiency.


Network Slicing: The Definition

With network slicing, a single 5G network can be sectioned into multiple virtual networks that allow specific, optimized support for distinct use cases. The networks developed in network slicing are formed on demand and can perform different functions across verticals, enterprises and application types.

What this means is that whereas existing networks serve all functions and customers — for example, utilities, manufacturing and automotive — as one, network slicing allows operators to select smarter customizations based on throughput, latency, data speeds and more to fit the needs of each customer and make the network as a whole more efficient.

What It Means for Business

Because 5G networks can be organized into these slices, each one will require different security capabilities dependent on their use case. New security requirements for 5G means that each network slice will have a device authentication that ensure devices intended for a specific network slice are approved but cannot run on another slice, addressing some of the security vulnerabilities found in 3G and 4G.

The flexibility gained from network slicing will also reduce costs and optimize performance of each slice.

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA)® introduced some potential use cases of network slicing, where the diversity of network requirements for each case showcases how network slicing can increase productivity and improve pricing for a business:

  • Augmented reality.

  • Massive IoT.

  • Manufacturing facility.

  • MRI-image transfers.

  • Enterprise video session.

5G offers many benefits, and network slicing enables new efficiencies that will only enhance the speed and performance of the next generation of connectivity.

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