Introduction to the 5G Architecture

Hi there people, today we are going to learn about a very new and interesting topic: The 5G Architecture.

The previous generation of internet, i.e., 2G, 3G, or 4G only focussed on increased data rate or the internet speed. They did not focus on any other aspect of the world. But, the advent of 5G not only brings upon increased data rate but also, other features like Network Virtualization and Network Slicing, which we will be looking into in this blog.

Overall 5G architecture

The 3rd Generation Partnership Project(3GPP) controls all the telecommunication standards all over the world. It also sets the standard for 5G networks which use a virtualized RAN(Radio Access Network). This is where 5G differs from its predecessors, i.e., 3G or 4G. There is a complete revamp of the architecture and it is not merely an improvement over the previous architecture. In 5G, the Network management is Software-driven and all the network functions are virtualized at the edges and core, unlike in 4G or 3G where every network function is hardware-based(bulky and costly).

The basic 5G Architecture

Source: 5G Mobile Networks, A systems approach

What is the big thing about Network Virtualization in 5G Architecture?

With the development of 5G, the Radio Access Network(RAN is the mode of communication of devices to the internet by a radio link) has been virtualized. Instead of implementing the access by bulky hardware, the base stations are installed with a Software-based RAN. When a device(User Equipment or UE) tries to connect to the internet while in a moving vehicle, the RAN processes the information with a speed higher than the normal hardware-based approach and connects to the internet. If the equipment moves out of range, the RAN acts as a FORWARDER, forwarding the internet connection request almost instantly to the nearest base station in the network, thus ensuring a smooth, low-latency internet connection even in a moving vehicle.

Evolution of 5G from 2G, 3G, 4G: A totally different architecture

Network Slicing in 5G Architecture

An analogy can simply explain Network Slicing. Suppose, a person has 1000 rupees in his pocket. He has to reach his home which is about 20kms far and the travel cost is 500 rupees. He is also hungry and has two options: a restaurant with a minimum spend of 500 and a place where he can have food at a cost of about 100 rupees. The sun is high in the sky and the heat is unbearable, so he can’t walk home. He wants to have the maximum efficiency while spending the money so that he can save some if needed in an emergency.

What can be the possible solution?

 The most efficient solution would be to spend 500 rupees on travel and 100 rupees on food. In that way, he fulfills his desire and also saves a hefty 400 rupees.

Now, coming back to Network Slicing, it simply means assigning only the necessary Band Width to the devices sharing the same Network Pipeline. Suppose, your Wi-Fi allotted speed limit is 100mbps. Suppose, ten of your home devices are sharing the same connection. The BW(Band Width) can be equally divided among the 10 devices, thus each getting 10mbps. So, 10mbps is assigned to all the devices irrespective of whether they are functioning or non-functioning. Network Slicing does not allow this wastage of BW. It assigns BW depending on the requirement requested by the device. Suppose you are playing games on your pc which usually requires much more BW than your other phone which maybe just using it for updating its software. Network Slicing ensures that your PC gets more BW(say, 30mbps) as compared to your phone(say, 3mbps)

Network slicing is one of the primary visions of 5G as it would help develop a smarter BW Management system. This would lead to a smarter home connection as well as a smarter IoT management system.