University gives first demonstration of virtualised 5G architecture

University gives first demonstration of virtualised 5G architecture [Image: Melpomenem via iStock]

The 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) at the University of Surrey has produced a full demonstration of its Flat Distributed Cloud (FDC).

In a statement, the university said it points to a “significant reduction in deployment, optimisation and upgrade costs for network operators”.

The FDC was demonstrated over LTE-A (an advanced version of the Long Term Evolution network) on an end-to-end basis between off-the shelf mobiles and internet and traditional intranet services.

According to the university, the 5G network will demand a far more complex infrastructure than existing networks and require a high level of ongoing optimisation and maintenance. Currently, operating expenses are a significant cost for network operators, who typically pay vendors to install bespoke equipment and then carry out each software update and patch.

The university explained that the virtualised 5G architecture is “orchestrated to the cloud and based on off-the-shelf Intel-based server blades running Linux OS”. This means that the operator would be able to rapidly deploy multiple virtual network functions (VNF) as network services, which would no longer require engineers to visit the physical sites to perform upgrades.

It will also enable operators to buy software from different vendors. The university said that the speed of deployment of VNFs on the FDC is roughly ten minutes compared to tens of days for traditional deployment.

Professor Rahim Tafazolli, head of the 5GIC, said: “This successful demonstration of the FDC is a huge step forward towards the development of a viable 5G network that supports mobile broadband, Internet of Things and high-quality applications, such as ultra high definition video, virtual and augmented reality applications.

“The next step for the 5GIC team will be to demonstrate FDC-based network slicing – the partitioning of network resources for different purposes to create the perception of infinite capacity.”