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Enabling 5G Verticals & Services through Network Softwarization and Slicing

Feature Topic


5G networks are expected to facilitate a business ecosystem enabling innovative services and networking capabilities not only for consumers, but also for new industry stakeholders. Verticals which includes new forms of service providers and virtual mobile operators are among the emerging types of players creating value for the society, and for various commercial industries including the automotive, energy, transport, healthcare, manufacturing, media and entertainment to mention a few. 5G will enable the wide adoption for Internet of Things (IoT), promote augmented reality and virtual reality, support autonomous driving, tactile Internet and an enhanced broadband experience in the crowd and on the move.

These diverse services introduce a broad range of often conflicting performance requirements, making it impossible for network operators to enable for all services such maximum level of performance on the top of the same physical network infrastructure at the same time. Hence, 5G networks should be more flexible and programmable to support all these different use cases facilitating also the appropriate level of security and privacy across a heterogeneous architecture with a unified control.
To accomplish this, 5G networks will rely more on software for flexibly deploying network functions and value added services, as well as on a programmable network infrastructure that unifies networking, computing and storage resources. In addition, 5G networks will rely on virtualization technologies for enabling isolated logical networks on the top of a common physical infrastructure allowing network customization based on the service requirements, thereby ensuring the desired performance. Logical networks may operate under the paradigm of micro-operators which enables a network deployment either independently or in collaboration with the macro network operators to provision tailored 5G services.

5G networks will transform the “one size fits all” paradigm into a network of capabilities enabling innovation and new business in a programmable manner, exploiting Network Function Virtualization (NFV) and Software Defined Networks (SDN). However, assuring the appropriate interoperability between vendors, operators, service providers, and verticals is the key for the success of 5G. Service abstraction models, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), slice templates, VNF embedding and service chaining, slice orchestration and life-cycle management, slice operations, slice control-plane and fixed mobile convergence are a few areas among many where standardization efforts currently concentrate. Several standardization bodies currently concentrate on specifying the concept and realization of network softwarization and slicing considering including NGMN, 3GPP, GSMA, ETSI, IETF, ONF, ITU-T, BBF, MEF, IEEE, etc. In addition, several open source communities OSM, OPNFV, ONAP, M-CORD, ODL, etc. are exploiting a practical insight on the service and orchestration aspects related to network function virtualization and slicing. 

Scope of Submissions

Original contributions are invited on the latest advancements on standardization on 5G network softwarization and slicing considering the network architecture, orchestration and management radio advancements, cloud computing, services and virtualization technologies. Deployment paradigms from the open source community that can bring light into an alternative means of standardization highlighting innovation and practicalities are also encouraged. The topics of interest within the scope of this issue include but are not limited to the following:

  • 5G disruptive business models related to enabling new verticals, for e.g., using softwarization and slicing
  • 5G network slice concepts and principles
  • Network slice templates
  • Network slicing architectures and operations
  • Control-plane protocols for network softwarization and slicing
  • Network slicing life-cycle management and orchestration
  • Service programmability and slice advancements on Northbound-APIs
  • Service assurance mechanisms and context-awareness
  • 5G Fixed-Mobile Convergence architecture
  • Network slicing paradigms for transport networks
  • Network slicing as an enabler for media and entertainment, for e.g., using 5G multicast/broadcast (or X-cast) technologies
  • Multi-access Edge Computing and Fog Computing


Konstantinos Samdanis
Huawei, Germany

Athul Prasad
Nokia Bell Labs, Finland

Min Chen
Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China

Prof. Kai Hwang
Univ. of Southern California, USA