On June 28 at Mobile World Congress (MWC) Shanghai 2017, China Mobile and Huawei jointly showcased the world’s first 5G core network prototype on the service-based architecture (SBA). The prototype adheres to 3GPP’s 5G SBA standard.
China Mobile has recently led to develop the service-based architecture. The architecture has won extensive support from the industry, especially global carriers, and has been recognized by 3GPP as the standard architecture for 5G core networks. SBA is also one of the major technical challenges that need to be overcome according to IMT-2020’s core network testing plan phase-2 which was launched at 5G World Summit on June 12.
SBA defines core network functions as loosely coupled, combinable services that can be flexibly scheduled based on standard interface protocol. Traditional core network elements are designed to be closely coupled in a black box. SBA defines the 5G core network functions as multiple service elements that are self-contained, reusable, and able to be independently managed. For the first time, the prototype enables key 5G core network functions that are consistent with 3GPP’s service-based architecture. These functions include service framework (service registration, discovery, and authorization), service operations (deployment, upgrade, and capacity expansion and contraction for 5G core network services), and service-oriented 5G basic business processes (device registration, connection establishment and release, and other key services). The prototype marks an important milestone in SBA development.
Yang Zhiqiang, Deputy General Manager of China Mobile Research Institute, said, “The service-based architecture shows that 5G is a truly Cloud Native design. It makes carrier networks more agile, flexible, scalable, and open. We will work to reduce its complexity, and look forward to working with all industry players to accelerate completion of international standards and product R&D. Our goal is to quickly put SBA into large-scale commercial use and enable 5G operations.” Shi Jilin, Vice President of Huawei’s Cloud Core Network Product Line, said, “SBA is the basis of 5G network architecture. It is the direction in which future networks are evolving. The service-based architecture makes services available to functions, interfaces, and operations. It also enables carriers to develop more services and quickly respond to service demand.” She added, “Huawei will continue to invest in the research and development of 5G core network based on SBA, so as to help China Mobile and global carriers prepare for the 5G era.”
The international standards for 5G network architecture are in the making. The successful prototype demonstration offers strong support to 3GPP in standardizing 5G network functions and protocol design, and lays a solid foundation for the IMT-2020 Promotion Group’s 5G core network testing.