Delivering voice and messaging services for different network slices
Network slicing is coming. Seen by many as the key to enabling new B2B monetisation opportunities, slicing will create multiple virtual networks, each of which needs its own service suite. To achieve this, operators need advanced service delivery solutions, capable of delivering parallel services in a consolidated, convergent framework.
Among many topics to be discussed at Mobile World Congress this year will be the coming launch of standalone 5G networks and the new service-based core architecture. This is a big step forward as, in addition to the new capacity and speed that 5G already offers, operators are likely to begin to capitalise on innovations such as network slicing.
Network slicing has been much discussed and is highly anticipated. It is expected that this will unlock many new opportunities and will see the start of monetisation. There seems to be a consensus that many of these will come from new B2B opportunities and partnerships. That’s because slicing enables dedicated virtual networks to be delivered to individual customers – which are likely to be organisations and enterprises, across a wide range of sectors.
While slices may be configured with highly specific capabilities and performance parameters, they are also expected to support a range of existing services, such as voice and messaging, albeit often in highly tailored services. Whatever the specific operating requirements for a slice, all users and devices within the slice must also be able to access this mix.
So, in addition to delivering differentiated services for each slice, operators must also ensure that they are supplemented with other communications services. This poses questions about orchestration and mobility, particularly if, for example, a slice is created for a particular location (rather than nationally). In this case, users can be expected to move to and from the slice. As a result, their service capabilities may vary.
We’re beginning to tackle this problem and anticipate some complex requirements emerging in the next few years as slicing becomes mainstream and as operators develop new offers. But, we’re already able to deliver differentiated services to users in different slices. That’s because of the unique way in which the Gintel Service Framework handles different service scenarios.
In the Gintel Service Framework, each service exists as a template, visualised as a graph, which defines a series of steps for each service or application. It contains the logic that is required for a particular service, defined as a series of steps with different possibilities and outcomes, depending on input and rules that are pre-defined.
Currently, multiple service templates are applied to a particular operator or service provider implementation of the Gintel solution – spanning services such as Cloud (mobile) PBX, IP Centrex, Voicemail, Number Translation Service and more. Within each such service, there may be multiple parallel logical service flows, depending on the offer delivered to each customer.
The Gintel solution is fully multi-tenant, which means that there can be multiple service providers enabled by an operator, each of which can run multiple service logic templates. With slicing, the same rules can be applied, so that operators can assign services to each slice, enabling specific B2B services to be customised and delivered for users in each slice. When they move outside a slice domain, they can be moved to another parallel service or they can continue to access the same service.
The result is a fully consolidated, convergent service delivery framework that can deliver multiple services to multiple slices, enabling access to custom services for users in each slice.
One example might be a custom mobile VPN service for business users in a slice that has been created for an industrial facility. Users would access the service within the slicing zone, but would also be expected to access the same features when they move outside this. By applying the specific service logic in the slice and then combining this with geofencing / location capabilities, users would be able to remain part of the VPN irrespective of their location.
So, while slicing is expected to drive operator revenues, it’s not all about specific QoS capabilities, it’s also about the range of services that can be delivered to users whether they are in the slicing zone or have moved outside. The Gintel service architecture enables service persistence and accessibility for users, from a single, consolidated environment, while allowing operators to configure and design highly specific voice and messaging services for each slice they establish.
This is a key element of the evolution of 5G networks. We’re already exploring these opportunities with our customers and with research partners. Why not get in touch to find out how we can help you deliver new B2B services in the age of mobile slicing?