AT&T and Ericsson use ONAP for network slicing

The companies chose this network slicing use case to highlight the capabilities ONAP software. (Getty Images)

At next week’s Open Networking Summit in San Jose, California, Ericsson and AT&T will demonstrate a network slicing collaboration that will show how quality of service (QoS) can be guaranteed for “slices” of the network that are dedicated to premium users. The companies chose this use case to highlight the capabilities of the open source ONAP software.

The demonstration will use four different remote terminals in AT&T's Atlanta labs. Two terminals, designated as regular users, will be running video streams at speeds up to 10 Mbps. Simultaneously, two other terminals, designated as premium users, will also run video streams, at speeds guaranteed at 2.5 Mbps or higher.

Then the teams will “choke the system” with traffic to show that the premium users receive their guaranteed speeds. “The purpose is to demonstrate that we can create performance levels of use cases in this network slice,” said Tomas Ageskog, head of digital services with Ericsson North America. "The speeds of the terminals were selected to make sure we are congesting the air interface, which in this proof of concept has been turned all the way down to 5 MHz, so we prove the ONAP demonstration works. It should not be taken as a reference to real speeds."

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Ignacio Más, head of technology innovation in OSS at Ericsson, added that the demonstration is a breakthrough in that the companies are able to connect different QoS mechanisms of different domains with different configurations into one single end-to-end QoS mechanism.

An ONAP-based network demo

The demonstration will use live data in the mobile network based on the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) open source project software. The physical radio and virtualized core network elements were configured, and the virtual network elements orchestrated, in an automated manner via ONAP to be part of the targeted network slices.

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Más and Ageskog said the particular network slicing use case was not so important as the fact that they wanted to show how they could instantiate virtual functions, configure both virtual and physical functions, and then combine them into the network slice services with different configurations and associated QoS settings.

One of the key accomplishments of the demonstration was to ensure robustness of both the infrastructure and ONAP elements, while demonstrating network slices at the same time. In addition, existing network components such as the radio base station and a Mobility Management Entity (MME) were modeled to define a new service that represented the network slice.

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The companies have shown that network slices can now be created using a single click that executes a multi-tiered workflow in an automated manner. “This has been built on only the second release of ONAP – Beijing,” said Ageskog. “The key thing is the team has been able to prove that this works. The way that we initiate the service is managed in one step. That’s quite impressive."

The lessons learned by AT&T and Ericsson from this exercise will be contributed back to the ONAP community.