As 4G mobile networks continue to evolve, industry leaders from around the world are defining the standards for 5G, the fifth generation of mobile technology. While 4G is primarily about speed and enablement of an all-IP network infrastructure, 5G aims to create an array of new business opportunities for mobile operators while delivering a highly personalized user experience for customers.
With commercial trials beginning as early as 2018 and large commercial rollouts expected in 2020, 5G will bring the very high performance and scale needed to incorporate the billions of users within the mobile community. It will also give service providers the ability to create a new generation of personalized services while supporting machine-to-machine communications (M2M) and the Internet of Things (IoT).
The demands that will be placed on the network five years from now are difficult to imagine today. By most estimates, the number of IoT-connected devices will stretch into the tens of billions. Smart phones, as we know them, will give way to a world of smart, connected devices such as wearables, vehicles, drones, and myriad sensors, all communicating in new ways, in a wide arc of advanced business and consumer applications.
For the 5G architecture to achieve its goals as it connects these varied devices, it will need to model intensified new levels of flexibility, agility, and automation. The architecture will rely heavily on Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and software-defined network (SDN) infrastructure for the elasticity to scale and deploy network functions on demand, supporting a wide variety of new-world mobile applications.
Analytics will derive prescriptive actions to help mobile operators create customized services that adapt to different device types. The rise of hybrid devices—those that are used for both personal and enterprise applications—will call for heightened threat intelligence to adjust security policies dynamically, at both the network and device levels.
If you’re a mobile operator, you can start preparing today for 5G. As your company’s innovators begin stretching their imaginations to visualize unique and inventive new services for end users, there’s no time like the present to begin forming a 5G network roadmap.
One of the most valuable tools available today towards a 5G migration is the ability to virtualize network functions with the help of NFV technology. NFV can let you preview some of the flexibility and agility that 5G promises, using virtualization to help you deploy and deliver new network functions, services, and capacity on demand.
While the promise of 5G looms five years out, NFV can help you give your customers a unique, personalized Internet experience—today.
Juniper has invested heavily in NFV and SDN technology, along with other innovations to support the needs of the 4G network evolution. In anticipation of the next generation of mobile technology, we are already executing on a plan to meet 5G requirements. Along those lines, we’ve virtualized our current routing and security products to act as virtual network functions (VNFs), with more virtualized capabilities coming in the near future.