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5G is coming! What are the characteristics of 5G core network? You know what?

Back to list Release date: Jul 15, 2020

In recent years, the fifth generation mobile communication system 5G has become a hot topic in communication industry and academia.The development of 5G also comes from the increasing demand for mobile data.Although the 5G network function can be built based on traditional architecture (such as the overall architecture based on virtual machine), only when the 5G network function (NF) is designed and implemented on the microservice architecture based on cloud native container can real innovation be realized in flexibility, high scalability, flexibility, simplified operation and life cycle management.

So what are the characteristics of 5G core (5GC)?

3GPP defines 5G core network as a decomposable network architecture, and introduces service-based interface (SBI) with HTTP/2 as the benchmark communication protocol, and separation of control plane and user plane (CUPS).This decomposition, SBI and CUPS of 5G network function software support the implementation of cloud-based native container.

1.separation of control and user plane

The 5G core network inherits the control and user plane separation (CUPS) architecture of 3GPP release 14.In 4G EPC, S/PGW is decomposed into S/PGW-C and S/PGW-U, which independently provide efficient service extension.

This decomposition lasted for 5G, and the user plane function (UPF) only played a role in packet processing of user traffic, while all other single-point processing was completed by other control plane functions such as session management function (SMF).CUPS architecture in 5G core brings advantages of cost saving and scalability by centralizing control plane functions (SMF) and distributing user plane functions (UPF) to edge data centers.

2.Stateless architecture

The 3GPP standard introduces stateless architecture to realize network optimization and better reliability and flexibility.

Generally, a stateful network function/element must retain user information or context information associated with the transport layer.Therefore, when the function suddenly fails, these data must be retained.Stateless architecture is a popular design pattern in modern software architecture based on microservices, which must use external data storage to decouple application layer and data storage layer.

Therefore, 3GPP defined unstructured data storage function (UDSF) in TS 21.195.

3.Service-based interface (SBI)

The most significant change in the 5G core control plane is the introduction of service-based interface (SBI) or service-based architecture (SBA) from the traditional point-to-point network architecture.Through this new change, almost every interface is now defined as using a unified interface and HTTP/2 protocol except a few interfaces such as N2 and N4.

This change makes the communication between NFs more like a service grid function than a serial link, which helps to reduce the dependency between each interface, help each function expand independently, and improve the agility of cross-network functions with new functions and services.

4.Network slicing

LTE/4G has introduced DECOR and eDECOR.With the maturity of Network Function Virtualization (NFV) and Software Defined Network (SDN) technology, the actual application of cloud native network architecture in 5G core will increase rapidly.

In 5G, network slicing is expected to enable enterprise customers to meet every requirement of customizable network functions (such as speed, quality, delay, reliability, security and service) by using the network customized for specific customer or user characteristics.For network service providers, this will be a new opportunity to monetize network services.

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