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Cisco CEO sees huge promise for 5G network slicing

Posted: 03 Mar 2016 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Cisco? 5G? network slicing? virtualisation? NFV?

Or, assume you're a fleet manager. Your trucks have refrigerated containers. Perhaps refrigerator suppliers might want a slice of network to track the temperature of all their fridges.

The idea extends to entertainment inside cars. "Entertainment service providers, such as Hulu, for example, might want their own network slice" to cater to screens inside cars, Martin said.

"Of course, consumers can certainly go to the Internet to stream content, but the network slice could give service providers an opportunity for a tiered billing system" even for different types of cars.

IoT ad hoc networks

During an interview with EE Times, Martin also touched upon the changing landscape of the Internet of Things (IoT) market. "Up until now, we've been building an IoT network on top of other networks already in existence," he said. "We are now seeing the growing networks that are native to IoT."

Asked if he is referring to such Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) networks as LoRa that Cisco has been pushing, Martin said, "Not necessarily."

As Cisco's senior director of engineering, he said, "I'm interested in things like 'IoT ad hoc networks.'"

Calling it "still a research concept," Martin said that the ad hoc network actually makes much more sense for IoT devices.

"Assume that I'm a light post" on the street, he said. "I could piggyback on radio signals coming from moving cars around me when I need to send data, for example. I don't have to be equipped with my own cellular or LPWA network connections. When I establish a call, I could use others' radio. I might even be able to use NFC's magnetic fields, for that matter, to send data."

As more devices need to get connected in 5G, the 'Platform as a Service' (paas) layer becomes an important enhancement. What might become a winning concept is an approach called Information-Centric Networking (ICN), he said.

5G network

Figure 3: 5G network (Source: Netmanias)

The ICN's goal is to evolve the Internet infrastructure away from a host-centric approach based on perpetual connectivity, to a network architecture whose focal point is information, content or data.

It isn't here yet, but that's something we need to think about, said Martin.

The network slicing idea, heavily discussed during the interview, could potentially run afoul of regulators seeking to preserve net neutrality.

How the industry defines net neutrality when the network is virtualised is an interesting question. After all, network slicing is designed to allow service providers network flexibility. But then, who is to decide which party has priority for network access?

That's another story, and it's barely begun.

- Junko Yoshida
??EE Times

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