The Chinese tech giant Huawei and the network operator China Unicom have recently announced a deal that will focus on the development of 5G network slicing ecosystem. As part of this agreement, the two companies will together develop network slicing equipment, which includes terminals, chips, and network infrastructure. In addition, the two firms will also work together in the application of the technology across a variety of use cases including Internet of Things (IoT), Internet of Vehicles (IoV) and even virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) games. An executive from China Unicom mentioned that the two companies target to build a 5G network slicing ecosystem either within the year or by next year.
Network slicing has been described by stakeholders as an important component of the 5G cellular standard. This technology allows for multiple versions of network functions, dubbed as network slices, to run simultaneously on top of a shared physical infrastructure or equipment. For example, a network could allocate different data speeds, coverage, or capacity to different use cases, and the network slices can be dynamically optimized to suit the requirements of a specific use case. This technology enables 5G networks to be flexible enough to service a wide variety of use cases. In addition, the network slicing technology also incorporates a more efficient set of Quality of Service (QoS) mechanisms. For consumers, the technology will result in more consistent and faster data speeds for users connected to the network. Meanwhile, the technology will enable carriers to offer new services while also reducing operational costs and network construction expenditures.
Aside from China Unicom, Huawei is already working with a number of carriers around the world in the testing and deployment of 5G network slicing technology. Among the carriers that already partnered with Huawei for the development of 5G network slicing includes the German network operator Deutsche Telekom. Based on lab tests conducted in late 2016, Huawei's 5G network equipment was able to create, destroy, and reallocate network slices within a span of a minute. The results of the test show the potential of 5G networks to handle heavy data traffic, especially during peak hours.