Affirmed Networks says it can deliver 5G-ready network slicing today

Network Slicing (Affirmed Networks)
Affirmed vSSF delivers Network Slicing across existing legacy, virtual and multivendor environments. (Affirmed Networks)

Not one to wait around for standards, Affirmed Networks announced it is delivering the Affirmed Virtual Slice Selection Function (vSSF) that enables fine-grained network slicing across existing legacy, virtualized and multivendor network environments.

Everybody talks about the ability to do network slicing in 5G, but few have made it available just yet. “We’re delivering network slicing right now to operators,” Angela Whiteford, Affirmed VP of product management and marketing, told FierceWirelessTech.

The Affirmed vSSF allows network resources to be allocated by device type, location, service type and more, she said. The product is already in trials with major operator customers around the world, with the target audience being Tier 1 and 2 operators.

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Because 5G needs to support new demands from a variety of users—different industries, autonomous driving, machines and more—network slicing is seen as a way to match connectivity needs of the user without over-spending on network resources. Slices can be optimized by certain characteristics, such as latency or bandwidth requirements. 

Operators today have available to them a form of network slicing known as Access Point Names (APNs) to allocate network resources, but Whiteford described that as rudimentary and limited in scope.

The vendor, which was an early participant in AT&T’s Domain 2.0 initiative, said the Affirmed vSSF represents the industry’s only solution capable of providing network slicing over legacy, virtualized and multivendor network environments both today and in the future over 5G. While 5G standards have yet to be finalized, the product was built on what is known about the 5G standards and will evolve to conform to the final specifications, according to Whiteford.

By combining the vSSF with other Affirmed products, such as the Affirmed Service Automation Platform, operators can rapidly deploy network slices and offer new revenue-generating services, reducing the time-to-market and operational costs by as much as 90%, the company contends. By adding the Affirmed Virtual Probe, operators get real-time analytics on individual slices and services, enabling them to improve service quality, reduce network support costs and identify new service opportunities.

In terms of open source, ONAP, the open source MANO (management and orchestration) initiative that was formed earlier this year, is getting a lot of attention right now. Affirmed Networks is looking at ONAP to see where it might contribute or otherwise participate, according to Whiteford.