With the maturity of 5G technology and the promotion of industry 4.0 strategy, more and more enterprises are accelerating the digital and intelligent transformation. As a key empowering technology, 5G is integrated with industry applications at the network edge to help industries build "enterprise brains" and drive industry innovation with its features of high bandwidth, low latency, big connection, and high reliability. However, industry differences and scales determine that different enterprises have different requirements for network coverage, capacity, bandwidth, latency, reliability, security isolation, and construction costs. It means that an enterprise needs a customized 5G network, and the public network cannot meet the specific requirements of all scenarios. It is both an opportunity and a challenge for the operators: On the one hand, the vast industrial market brings diversified revenues to the operators, effectively alleviating the increasingly saturated dilemma of ToC service and market. On the other hand, how to quickly customize the 5G industrial network to provide personalized 5G services has tested the operators’ capability and efficiency of providing services.
In response to the challenge and opportunity, ZTE recently proposed a new business model "5G Network as a Service" at 5G Summit, aiming to help operators and enterprises break through the barriers of supply and demand in the 5G industry network. By empowering the industry through "5G Network as a Service", operators can flexibly integrate and construct customized 5G networks, rapidly providing differentiated and deterministic 5G services for the industry, and shorten the time to the provisioning of 5G networks and services.
"5G Network as a Service" is the extension and evolution of "Slicing as a Service". With the support of key 5G technologies and some innovative ideas, it provides one-stop 5G services of "subscribing to services and provisioning services" which can serve the personalized 5G requirements in ToC and ToB scenarios.
"5G Network as a Service", which requires low coupling of functions and high flexibility of software and hardware, is applicable to various edge scenarios, helping operators reduce the difficulty of network customization and improve delivery efficiency. In terms of software, network functions are decoupled and abstracted into small-particle functional components or atomic services. Atomic services or components can be upgraded, updated, and reused independently, and customized 5G network services can be constructed quickly. In terms of hardware, this solution not only provides a general server resource pool, but also can apply special servers, GPU/FPGA and other special acceleration equipment. It provides the ICT integration cloud foundation, to achieve unified management and scheduling of virtual machines, containers, bare metals and hardware acceleration resources, shield the bottom-layer differences for upper-layer applications, and provide computing power as required. It is applicable to various scenarios such as ToC and ToB.
"5G Network as a Service" supports multiple network deployment modes, including end-to-end slicing networks, slicing + dedicated NFs, and end-to-end dedicated networks, meeting the differentiated requirements of cost, latency, and security isolation in different scenarios. For enterprises with low requirements for latency and physical resource isolation, the end-to-end slicing technology is used to provide on-demand service with on-demand SLA based on the 5G public network. This mode has a relatively low cost for enterprises and maximizes the benefits of large-scale resources for operators. In the scenario where data is required not to be sent out of the campus, the deployment mode of slicing + dedicated NFs is used, to provide a 5G-public-network-based slice control plane and an on-premises dedicated UPF in the campus. This mode is more secure and has a lower latency. In scenarios with high security and isolation, such as airports and government affairs, locally dedicated 5G networks can be deployed, including fully independent core networks, transmission networks, and wireless networks. Operators need to select different construction modes in accordance with the requirements of enterprises for network costs, performance, and security.
"5G Network as a Service" provides full-lifecycle management of customized 5G network services, including consultation, planning, design, customization, integration, and installation and deployment. This solution provides nearly a hundred typical requirement templates of different industries. It customizes suitable network deployment modes, tailors software and hardware functions, pre-integrates them before delivery, delivers the whole system, performs one-click configuration after being powered on, and automatically performs dial-up tests on the industry site to achieve efficient "order-to-service".
As a key vendor of communications and IT solutions, ZTE has always been in the leading position in 5G technology and application exploration. Through in-depth cooperation with operators and industry partners, ZTE has continuously been accumulating and incubating innovations. At present, ZTE has developed more than 500 partners to explore nearly 100 innovative 5G application scenarios, and carried out more than 60 demonstration projects around the world, including smart manufacturing, power grid, port, mine, health care, education, agriculture and many other fields. In the future, ZTE will continue to innovate, deepen its co-operation with global operators and industry partners, and promote industrial innovation.