Barcelona, 27 February 2018. Today, at the Mobile World Congress, Telefónica presented the development of its Telco Cloud-UNICA platform, by integrating a virtualised network function (virtual Evolved Packet Core-vEPC) and loading on it 4 network slices. This has demonstrated, on the one hand, the concept of 5G Network Slicing with end-to-end vision and, on the other, the advantages of the UNICA network transformation programme, a pioneer project run by Telefónica in the context of the industry which guarantees the competitiveness of its networks in the future. Fundamentally, it has shown the interrelation between the two, that is to say, the importance of network virtualisation for the optimal deployment of 5G technology and functionalities.
Telefónica keeps evolving towards the virtualization of its network, with the aim of increasing agility, flexibility, and scalability, based on the UNICA project. Through UNICA, the company continues defining a general purpose network and services architecture in a multi-vendor cloud environment, key to its versatility to incorporate new functionalities, including 5G. With the deployment of this Telco-Cloud architecture, Telefónica seeks the capacity to offer new services and applications, and to support traffic growth and connected devices which are difficult to manage using existing network architectures. This is possible thanks to network virtualization technologies, which are able to implement different nodes on the same infrastructure and, therefore, redistribute capacity where necessary, improving both the scaling and the elasticity of the network, and thus speeding up the provision of services and significantly improving time to market.
Regarding to 5G technology, Telefónica continues to work on its development, both in our laboratories and through different proofs of concept and use cases, more than ten of these during 2017. Telefónica’s concept of 5G technology is from an evolving perspective with regard to radio capabilities and revolutionary in terms of network architecture. Thus, while in terms of radio we will see a new leap in capacity and performance through extended bandwidths and improvements in radio and antenna technology, it will be in relation to the architecture -how this is developed, deployed and the services operated- where 5G will be truly differential with respect to previous technologies. This is a new network based on programmable, flexible, scalable, efficient and open software, which will provide a platform through which both Telefonica and third parties may offer services to our end-customers (B2X and B2B2X, respectively).
The main characteristic of the new architecture is its ability to isolate logical networks, with specific features and capabilities, on the same physical infrastructure. This is referred to as Network Slicing, and it makes it possible to deliver different network capabilities to different types of services, a key aspect in the deployment of 5G networks. The demos which Telefonica exhibits at its MWC stand revolve around this concept. Telefónica presents 4 network slices - 4 demos, in fact - showing the results of its work on innovation and its technological leadership, and how it is possible to apply technology as a tool for differentiation at the service of applications of the future.
Each one of the 4 network slices provides different capabilities: one for connectivity, a case of virtual reality applied to a digital twin service; a service showing the innovative concept of RAN Slicing applied to critical communications, in particular emergency services; and, finally, an augmented reality service for remote assistance in the framework of the concept of digital industry.
Telefónica also showcased its state of the art value proposal in the sector by using 5G spectrum, thanks to a 3.7 GHz carrier in TDD (band 43) which provides the required connectivity for the range of technology demos at the booth. These demos present advanced services use cases that work on different network slices built on Telefonica’s virtualized network. The company has developed these demos with the collaboration of Huawei, Ericsson and Netsia.
Enrique Blanco, Telefonica CGTIO explained that "Telefónica remains committed to the development of 5G technology, which will necessarily open up our telecommunications ecosystem to a wide range of vertical industries. We have devoted many years to creating and transforming our networks, because we understand that it is essential to be flexible and scalable, and because only through virtualization we can respond to the requirements posed by the industry, which are radically varied and even contradictory among themselves".
These demos may be experienced at the Telefónica stand at the Mobile World Congress.