In what’s being described as an industry first, Samsung Electronics America and Cisco said they were able to successfully demonstrate, in partnership with Verizon, the deployment of the first multivendor end-to-end 5G network field trial. It took place recently in Ann Arbor, Michigan, one of the test markets where Samsung is working with Verizon.
Verizon is conducting fixed wireless 5G trials in 11 markets across the country, and Samsung is working in five of them. Each location offers a unique set of test parameters, including vendors, geographies, population densities and demographics; the Ann Arbor location is the first to tackle a multivendor deployment of 5G, the companies said.
The solution includes a 5G virtualized packet core from the Cisco Ultra Services Platform with Cisco Advanced Services and Samsung virtual RAN (vRAN) solutions, paired with Samsung’s 5G Radio base stations and 5G home routers. They set up an internet session using 28 GHz.
“Everything looked good,” Magnus Ojert, vice president and general manager of the Verizon Account, Networks division at Samsung Electronics Americas, told FierceWirelessTech. “Everything we’ve seen so far with the multivendor network has been consistent with what we’ve seen in previous networks where we’ve had end-to-end sessions where it’s just been Samsung only.”
The key message here is the interoperability, said Mike Iandolo, vice president and general manager of the Mobility Business Group at Cisco Systems. “The reason why that’s important is because our customers need to have the flexibility to build out a network and choose best-of-breed for that network,” he said.
Cisco has traditionally been the leader in the packet core, and it’s now applying that knowledge to the emerging 5G standard, which proves the strength of the technology and shows the flexibility of the standard and the architecture, he said.
While the work is based on Verizon’s 5G Technical Forum specifications, expectations right now call for there to be a smooth transition from Verizon’s specs to the standards that are approved by the 3GPP, Ojert said.
Every operator has their own schedule for moving to SDN and NFV, and Cisco is seeing a combination of approaches, including operators that are focused on the enterprise and those who are doing a massive consumer build-out. That’s likely to pick up more in the next year or so, and Cisco expects customers are going to be pretty much in the process or completed with virtualization as they start to introduce 5G, Iandolo said.
NFV is a critical building block for the success of 5G, according to Sathya Atreyam, research manager for 5G and IoT Infrastructure at IDC. “Cloudification of various network functions is key to realizing the 5G vision of million end points connection density, less than 1 millisecond latency in the most cost-efficient manner,” Atreyam told FierceWirelessTech.
The very fact that these companies collaborated indicates that 5G success will demand frictionless intervendor collaboration, and this requirement will be driven by mobile operators, Atreyam added. It is also significant to note that diverse use cases planned by operators will necessitate the need for multivendor policy in different parts of a 5G network.