5G Network Slicing: The Journey to Monetization

Accurate, real-time data will be key to automated, dynamic slicing.


Network slicing holds the potential to be a true game changer for communications service providers (CSPs), enabling them to deliver new enterprise 5G services to subscribers and generate critically important revenue streams. The promise is so great that a recent report predicted the global network-slicing market will grow at an astronomical compound average growth rate (CAGR) of 51.5 percent. This report estimated the global market will reach a value of $1.284 billion by 2025.

5G network slicing allows CSPs to provide virtualized portions of their networks for each specific customer or service/device requirement, optimizing resources and network topology to meet service level agreement (SLA)-specific requirements such as latency and throughput, and for each given application as needed. In a way, network slicing is akin to the virtual private networks (VPNs) that have been around for years. What’s different is that slices are created virtually on top of a physical network, and can be dedicated to an enterprise, an event, or a specific service.

Early in the 5G Journey

Today, we are early in the 5G journey, as CSPs gradually expand 5G coverage with 5G NR and Open RAN and evolve to 5G standalone (cloudified network). More and more providers are looking at SLAs, working on building up ecosystems and embarking on a migration from non-standalone to standalone 5G for slicing. In these early days, slices tend to be pre-provisioned and fixed to a service in most cases. However, the future is bright. Soon, CSPs will be able to deliver multiple slices, which will be easier to provision, and eventually, dynamic slicing that can be provisioned on the fly.

Responsive provisioning of physical resources delivered across network domains in a virtual partition holds tremendous potential for CSPs and their subscribers. The point at which customers can order connectivity tuned to their KPIs—on-demand—will be a game-changer. Imagine a scenario where a family decides to have a video game party, but is concerned their bandwidth won’t be sufficient. In this future network-slicing world, they simply purchase extra speed on demand for a nominal fee to ensure a great user experience.

In the near future, CSPs will be able to automatically provision and allocate resources where needed, while ensuring a high level of quality so they can meet SLAs. It’s easy to see how this type of use case could be a significant revenue generator across a broad customer base.

Beyond the gaming industry, many other promising enterprise use cases are on the horizon, from healthcare to manufacturing, smart cities, and even industrial applications such as mining. Dynamic slicing will be key to delivering low latency and high throughput, plus much-needed security.

Observability Technology Tailored Specifically for Network Slicing

To deliver on the promise of 5G network slicing and meet SLAs, CSPs will need the ability to see and monitor virtual network slices to ensure quality of service. NETSCOUT is pioneering this work, collaborating with network element management system (NEMS) and tier-one carriers to ensure 5G readiness in the face of complexity involving the cloud, disaggregated networks, and containers.

One example of this effort is an industry-first data-processing and network function monitoring solution from Ericsson, Swisscom, and NETSCOUT that provides automatic access to packet data and the ability to analyze raw packet data. By enabling cloud-based packet data processing and network function monitoring, CSPs can dramatically enhance network service assurance, analytics, and cybersecurity. This is key to the success of 5G network slicing.

NETSCOUT is working with numerous other providers, including Mavenir, Nokia, and F-5, as well as with all the top hyperscalers to provide visibility to IP traffic in the cloudified network. To meet the demands of this new technology, NETSCOUT has innovated virtual micro-probing technologies that can go down to an individual slice. In this way, CSPs will be able to access full packets, KPIs, and call traces and even feed third parties’ data on each slice—helping carriers ensure they are fulfilling SLA obligations.

NETSCOUT is the leader when it comes to capturing and delivering accurate, real-time data, which will be essential in achieving the automation needed to make dynamic 5G slicing a reality.

To learn more, visit www.netscout.com/5G.