The 5G MoNArch project will test-drive real-world 5G applications, network slicing

5g (Pixabay)
Nokia is one of many companies working on 5G tech.

The 5G Mobile Network Architecture research project has launched, consisting of 14 industry and academic partners that will focus on implementing two 5G use cases in real-world test beds using network slicing.

The project, which goes by the snappy name of 5G MoNArch for short, was developed as part of the European Union's Horizon 2020 Framework Programme and will be led and coordinated by Nokia. It will run for two years with a total budget of 7.7 million euros.

The plan is to deploy experimental implementations of 5G architecture in two scenarios: one, to support heavy communications usage in a tourist-heavy city, and two, to provide secure and reliable communications in a seaport environment.

Underpinning this will be some serious architectural work: The consortium’s specific goal is to use network slicing to support both of these use cases as a blueprint for other applications in vertical industries such as automotive, healthcare and media.

Widely considered a bedrock must-have for 5G to develop its full potential at scale, network slicing is enabled by software-defined networking (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV). It means that resources from the network can be sectorized on demand, so that separate services are supported by their own “slice” of network capabilities that are spun up as needed. This is good for efficiency—it eliminates overprovisioning and maximizes resource utilization—but it also allows the network to simultaneously support various services with different requirements in a flexible and adaptive way.

5G MoNArch will bring together the public and private sectors in a continuation of work begun at the 5G-PPP. That includes 5G-NORMA, a European network architecture research project setting the conceptual basis for 5G communications networks and providing key input to 3GPP standardization. Now, in the second phase of 5G-PPP, 5G MoNArch aims to complement the initial groundwork by bringing these concepts to practical deployment.

It will take the original architectural concepts of the first phase and add innovations such as cloud-enabled network protocols, inter-slice control and cross-domain management, experiment-driven modeling and optimization. It will also implement functional innovations around the key technologies required for dedicated 5G use cases: Resilience, security and resource elasticity.

"5G PPP brings together a range of stakeholders from the communications technology sector and other industries,” said Peter Merz, head of End-to-End Mobile Networks Solutions at Nokia Bell Labs, in the announcement. “We follow a shared architecture of what the next-generation communications infrastructure needs to look like to enable and meet the network demands of the next decade. 5G communication needs both private and public entities to invest in the infrastructure and ensure Europe remains competitive. Nokia is fully committed to the 5G-PPP: we have delivered know-how and innovative technologies since its launch in 2015 in order to strengthen the European 5G footprint."