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Monetizing 5G slicing

  • 2 minute read
  • Published by Elizabeth Coyne on 22 Jun 2020
  • Last modified 2 Jul 2020
Today network slicing is more than just an exciting idea. After six years of preparation and two years of missing out on consumer revenue that never materialized from deploying 5G New Radio, communications service providers (CSPs) are successfully testing slicing capabilities with the hope that a year from now they will be successfully delivering and managing new slicing-based services to companies in many verticals. To get there, it is crucial for CSPs to break the habit of talking about network slicing in technical terms. 5G slicing will not appear as an item in the service catalog. It is not a service; it is a means of delivering customized services. Customers won’t ask for a slice, and they don’t need to know their service is being delivered using slicing technology.

What is network slicing?

Network slicing is network virtualization, allowing multiple logical networks to run upon a shared physical network infrastructure. The objective is to allow a mobile network operator to partition its networking and compute and storage resources to allow for very different users to multiplex over a single physical infrastructure, thereby maximizing utilization and providing a better return on invested capital for the operator.
These partitions, or slices, would be created to match the technical requirements of different types of use cases.

Appealing to customers

Over the past few years, TM Forum members have championed a number of slicing Catalyst proofs-of-concept projects that focused on the technical aspects of provisioning and billing for slices, because it is critical to understand how slicing-based services will work before they can be sold to customers. But the user’s point of view will be different, and the technical aspects of delivering slicing and exposing the complexity to users poses a risk to adoption.

Instead CSPs and their partners must focus on what slicing enables for customers and on the user’s experience. This means paying attention to service design, ordering, self-service modifications, pricing based on quality of service, charging and lifecycle management.

Simplicity is key

Operators involved in the Catalyst projects believe that the market success of slicing will be related to how simple it is for customers to use services based on slicing technology. Ordering and consuming slices need to be as frictionless as possible, and standard slice templates and APIs are important to making that happen.

Beyond terminology, it is important for CSPs to consider the potential benefits of and challenges to implementing 5G slicing and to be able to address challenges. Monetizing performance, for example, is a goal, but it's difficult to charge based on quality of service.

That said, a key benefit of 5G slicing is that it allows CSPs to monetize varying levels of service. For example, they can price based on guarantees of availability, level of quality, level of security, throughput, latency and many other performance indicators. Operators’ biggest decision, in fact, may be which service model to offer.

To read more about monetizing 5G slicing, read TM Forum’s free report “Monetizing 5G slicing: turning a game-changing concept into an operational reality.”

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