Insight: 5G and the Need for SDN Flow Optimization

Posted by Mae Kowalke on Thursday, March 19, 2015 with No comments

As more and more mobile subscribers run bandwidth-intensive applications on a variety of devices, networks (and their operators) are strained to maintain service quality.

With the annual throughput of mobile traffic expected to increase from 58 Exabytes in 2013 to roughly 335 Exabytes by 2020, it's clear that brute-force over-provisioning of bandwidth is no longer an economically feasible solution. Instead, operators must implement other strategies to meet growing quality of experience (QoE) expectations especially in the face of finite spectrum. 

As fast as they can be deployed, however, some industry experts still expect 4G networks will reach their limits within five years. That means 5G networks and standards are the inevitable answer, taking bandwidth another order of magnitude forward, supporting 1000% device densification and the Internet of Things.

To develop a future-proof strategy for maintaining service quality in the face of increasing bandwidth demand (as much as that is possible, anyway), operators must carefully consider many factors. Some things they should be asking include:

  • How will we use 5G to meet stricter performance requirement, such as sub-ms latency bounds, tighter packet loss, and higher availability limits? 
  • How will we apply the software defined network (SDN) approach--separating control and data planes--to implement multiple frequency bands without changing existing control infrastructure?
  • How will we extend monitoring to the virtual fabric?
  • How will we make our backhaul performance assurance as flexible as the HetNets themselves?
  • How will we adapt our existing infrastructure to 5G?

For insights into some possible answers to these questions, see:

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