China Mobile supports private enterprise slices with Rel16 technology

China Mobile may have compromised on its initial plan to be the only MNO in the world to go straight to the Standalone (SA) version of 5G, which requires a 5G core. In fact, the company will deploy some Non-Standalone 5G in areas where it wants to make early progress, but it is still likely to be the first telco to get to SA at any scale, and it is already running trials on this platform, even using technologies which are not yet standardized.

The operator, working with Huawei and cloud provider Baidu, has been testing network slicing with an SA architecture and a technology called 5G Vertical LAN. The latter will be defined in the 3GPP Release 16 standards, which will only be finalized at the start of next year, but according to China Mobile, are close enough to being stable to be used in tests.

The use case in the Beijing trial was a corporate videoconference, with 8K cameras capturing the live video and sending it to the 5G SA core through the MNO’s 5G base stations. The video was encoded and decoded by Baidu servers on the same network and sent to the conference room for the 8K live broadcast.

This all took place on a particular kind of network slice, as enabled by the 5G Vertical LAN. This slice is dedicated to a single business, and creates a private connected cloud for that enterprise. That could be provided by the MNO, or deployed and customized by the enterprise, with the connectivity in its own, or the MNO’s, spectrum. The slice provision and management is carried out by the 5G core.

Huawei says the “cloudified enterprise environment enables terminals to directly communicate with each other, and allows them to access enterprise clouds” without going through the public cloud, to boost security.