Think flexibility. Think simplification. Think re-imagination. These concepts will permeate all aspects of 5G from the services supported, how the network is designed, and all way down to the elemental new waveforms that may provide us with some new acronyms and labels for this fifth generation.
5G will be built on a foundation of established IT thinking. The cloud, virtualization, and programmable networking (aka SDN/NFV) will provide the cornerstones. These technologies inherently deliver flexibility and, at least through the eyes of any IT professional, are a lot simpler than the legacy approach of telecom. 5G will, however, take these technologies to new levels and depths of integration, and in so doing will shape the 5G specification that will be defined in the months and years ahead.
SDN/NFV in telecom is a hot topic today, but where we are now only scratches the surface of its original vision. The focus of work in this area now is primarily Total Cost of Ownership and OPEX reduction through switch hardware commoditization and the efficient relocation of a subset of network functions.
In 5G, SDN/NFV concepts will be pushed much further, returning to the original value proposition, namely that of enabling true architectural innovation. In 5G, it will not simply be about virtualizing the network functions, but entirely changing the way of its inner working. Network evolution will be the frontline in the realization of many 5G requirements (e.g. low latency). Today's internet is simply not designed to support low latency. However, through programmable networking, new, more efficient approaches will become possible.
In 5G, virtualization will touch every element in the system, spanning backhaul, fronthaul, and radio access. It is within this flexible, dynamically configurable fabric that system resources will be optimally and instantaneously orchestrated to deliver the next generation experience to end users.
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