The 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) at the University of Surrey successfully performed the world’s first full demonstration of an orchestrated, virtualised 5G architecture, using the Flat Distributed Cloud (FDC) architecture it proposed earlier this year.
The demonstration was conducted by 5GIC researchers and testbed staff, in conjunction with partners including Cisco, Huawei and Quortus. 5GIC has been developing and prototyping FDC for 18 months, and the demo is a significant milestone in the development of a viable 5G network. It also gives a major fillip to 5GIC’s attempts to make FDC the de facto network architecture for the next generation of communications.
Find out more about the Flat Distributed Cloud.
The demo was performed over an LTE-A network using off-the-shelf Intel-based server blades running Linux OS, with the OpenBaton orchestrator and OpenStack virtual network functions (VNF) controller. OpenBaton was released by Fraunhofer FOKUS in October 2015 and is the first open source ETSI-compliant platform for network functions virtualisation (NFV).
5GIC claims that VNFs can be deployed on the FDC in around 10 minutes, a significant improvement over traditional deployments which can take a similar number of days. This means that operators can rapidly deploy multiple VNFs as network services and quickly perform software updates and add features. Engineers no longer have to go to the network’s physical sites to carry out upgrades and operators will be able to buy software from multiple vendors.
All of this will combine to significantly reduce installation and maintenance costs for network operators. Operating expenses currently represent a major cost for network operators, so FDC makes 5G a more commercially viable proposition.
The next step is for 5GIC to demonstrate FDC-based network slicing, ie the partitioning of network resources to give the impression of infinite capacity, a timetable for which has not been given.
Find out more about the 5G Innovation Centre