SDN in 5th generation mobile networks

Since its very foundation in 2001 Alvarion has been one of the most innovative companies in the wireless market. Now that many wireless service providers are deploying their 4G networks Alvarion Technologies wants to go one step beyond and has kick-off its strategy towards 5G.

What’s 5G about?

4G networks are enabling mobile broadband for our mobile devices: smartphones, tablets, laptops.  The number of connected devices is growing day by day. 5G networks will start to be deployed by the year 2020. The forecast is that a huge number of devices (10 to 100 times higher) will require 5G connectivity with the irruption of Internet of Things (IoT).

On the other hand, an avalanche of traffic (x1000) is expected with new applications demanding more and more bandwidth. But 5G is not only about increasing the peak bit rate; in order to obtain the right QoE, the high bit rates should be available in a larger portion of the cell. And there are many other challenges that should be solved by 5G technologies. A spectrum crunch is anticipated and therefore higher spectral efficiency seems a must. Increasing the energy efficiency is a relevant target as well as getting lower battery consumption (10 times longer battery life). E2E latency needs to be 5 times reduced… No doubt, it’s a challenging wish-list.

And, of course, the deployment, operation and management (OAM) of networks of such a size will become a huge challenge as well.

SDN, NFV & Network Management

Software Defined Networks (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) are two promising technologies that can enhance network OAM.  SDN enables hardware savings (Capex) by using general-purpose servers instead of specialized hardware. NFV applications are easily deployable for instance to facilitate system-wide awareness of Health of Network metrics or to provide extended security features. This helps reduce Opex.


Alvarion Technologies is taking part in SELFNET, a project that is exploring the potential of SDN/NFV in the future 5G Networks.  SELFNET combines SDN, NFV, OpenFlow protocol, Cloud Computing and Artificial Intelligence to provide a novel intelligent management framework that automatically will detect and mitigate a set of network problems and will allow fulfilling key management tasks that currently are still manually addressed by network operators. This will enable Opex reduction while improving user experience. To give an idea of the expected improvement in terms of OAM tasks SELFNET will target reducing the average service creation time cycle from 90 hours to 90 minutes.

5G Scenarios

5G Scenarios (Source

SELFNET is a project supported by the EU Commission through the 5G PPP initiative and was kick-off in Heidelberg-Germany on July 2015.

Please stay tuned to be updated on the progress of this challenging project.

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