ADVA recently announced that it will host a joint demo with BT at Mobile World Congress (MWC) that will showcase end-to-end, multi-layer transport network slicing and assurance. The demo will illustrate how edge computing and network slicing techniques can enable emerging 5G applications. These include use cases that require ultra-reliable low-latency communications (uRLLC), such as autonomous vehicle control. With 5G connectivity expected to launch in 2019, there is now an urgent need to develop new transport networking technology that can meet the cost, efficiency and flexibility requirements. The showcase marks the first step in a long-term research collaboration between ADVA and BT focused on network slicing implementations. Technology partners involved in the MWC demo include 6WIND, Accelleran, Athonet, Lumina Networks, Mavenir and Spirent.

“5G is set to enable use cases that go way beyond mobile broadband. What we’re demonstrating here is a network architecture optimized for a new generation of applications. By showcasing transport network slicing within an SDN-controlled infrastructure, we’re paving the way for 5G to support different use cases on a common infrastructure that could enable anything from self-driving cars to the massive machine-type communication (mMTC) needed for billions of IoT devices,” said Anthony Magee, director, business development, ADVA. “Our demo shows that true end-to-end network slicing is ready for deployment. That means multiple network allocations using the same physical infrastructure can be delivered in parallel, not only in the radio access network (RAN) and mobile core network but also across transport and infrastructure resources. This technology will be vital for generating the flexibility and agility needed to bring incredible 5G applications to life.”

As well as transport network slicing controlled by SDN, another key feature of the joint demo is the solution’s edge compute capabilities. Built on ADVA’s Ensemble Connector and members of its FSP 150 family, the showcase reveals how virtual network functions (VNFs), such as evolved packet core components and virtual RANs, can be hosted at the network edge. Removing baseband units from cell sites and hosting them on virtual machines running in the cloud dramatically reduces latencies, complexities and time to market, and empowers operators to roll out higher density networks.

The demo also highlights how network slices can span across multiple operators’ domains. This enables third-party transport network providers to offer fronthaul, backhaul and core connectivity services as well as edge compute capabilities supporting the same slicing techniques as the overall transport architecture. To achieve this, the demo underscores how orchestration technologies are required to compose end-to-end slices.

ADVA’s G.metro also plays a key role in the showcase. This innovative new technology directly distributes DWDM wavelengths to remote radio heads for significantly improved economic efficiencies in optical access networks. What’s more, the demonstration features assurance and monitoring of individual network slices, guaranteeing the performance of every virtual network.

Maria Cuevas, head, mobile core network research, BT, said, “By showcasing an architecture for wholesale services that can be efficiently reconfigured across all network layers through SDN control, we’re taking a big step forward. But this demonstration is really just the start of an intense period of research into network slicing. Our close collaboration with ADVA and other partners in this space will help us optimize our network for 5G and harness the technology’s potential to shape the future.”