DT, Ericsson, Samsung carve a 5G slice for VR gaming in lab trial

Ericsson launched a commercial 5G RAN slicing product earlier this year. (Getty Images)

Deutsche Telekom completed end-to-end 5G network slicing with Ericsson and Samsung in a lab trial that carved out specific resources to deliver performance needed to support cloud virtual reality gaming.

The partners called it a world's first.

The test used a Samsung Galaxy S21 device and tethered VR headset. Ericsson provided 5G standalone infrastructure, including radio access network (RAN), cloud core, orchestration and ordering automation.

Network slicing is one way operators are hoping to monetize 5G, with the capability to isolate and tailor portions (or “slices”) of the larger network end-to-end to fit specific needs for different customers or use cases.   

DT and Ericsson focused on VR gaming as an example, using two complete network slices – with the other representing a typical mobile broadband slice. The VR slice was optimized for higher throughput and low latency that would be desirable for cloud gaming. According to Ericsson, it showed a better experience even when the network was congested.

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The demo looked at multiple capabilities for 5G end-to-end network slicing, including verifying that latency remained stable and could guarantee a certain throughput in a congested network. It also explored the ability to automate the creation of separate slices for different services and isolate network resources with Ericsson’s 5G RAN slicing product; and Business Support System (BSS) integration for provisioning user profile and automated slices with orchestration.

A commercial 5G RAN slicing product from Ericsson launched earlier this year, which it said allocates radio resources based on dynamic partitioning of the network and delivers 1 millisecond scheduling.

DT and Ericsson executives pointed to the need to showcase what network slicing can do for consumers, as operators aim to introduce new services based on slicing.

“Network slicing is a key enabler for the monetization of 5G. New digital services to consumers and enterprises become a reality because the technology makes it possible to create fit-for-purpose software for defined virtual networks with defined characteristics,” said Erik Ekudden, Group CTO at Ericsson, in a statement. “To bring these services to the market, it is vital for operators to start from within their own business and to collaborate with customers, as well as relevant ecosystem players to demonstrate value creation and technical readiness.”

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As a company focused on experience, “it is essential that we demonstrate the value of 5G slicing for our customers lives,” stated Claudia Nemat, board member for Technology & Innovation at DT. “As a world’s first, our unique collaboration with Ericsson and Samsung to provide slices to commercial devices shines a light on how we can bring these benefits to our customers.” 

Another key achievement Ericsson called out was the use of a 5G UE (user equipment) slicing policy feature. The vendor said it allows a device to direct applications and services with specified requirements to a defined slice. A device using certain applications – like cloud gaming that needs low-latency – could direct the application to the right network slice that could handle those requirements for better service quality.  

As for T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom, the operator has been making some open RAN noise this week, turning on its O-RAN Town deployment in Neubrandenburg, Germany. The first 25 sites of the multi-vendor open RAN network are now deployed and integrated into DT’s live network in Germany.