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24th Sep 2016


BT and Huawei partner for “network slicing” research

BT and Huawei will conduct research into how network slicing could be used to support 5G services. Building on their partner agreement which started last December, BT and Huawei have revealed their first joint effort will be researching network slicing. The research will be conducted at the BT Labs near Ipswich.

What is network slicing? 5G networks will be partitioned to deliver specific services, whether it’s for applications, devises, customers or operators. It allows multiple virtual networks to be created on top of a common shared physical infrastructure, which are then customised to meet specific needs.

BT suggest that network slicing can be used at a live music event so that concertgoers can take a video and stream it to their contacts. Live video footage can then be broadcast and users can enjoy the concert in their own homes via live feeds and virtual reality (VR) headsets.

This highlights BT’s interest in 5G is largely focused around video streaming. BT launched its first IPTV services in 2006 and now has 1.5m subscribers. Its BT Sport channel has over 5m customers and noticeably with all the TV adverts, BT has been pushing hard to challenge Sky Sport’s dominance in the market.

“Customers are increasingly demanding converged networks that deliver a mix of flexibility, reliability and optimisation. It’s our role to ensure that our fixed and mobile networks deliver the best possible experience for customers regardless of the demands placed on them.” Howard Watson, CEO of Technology, Service & Operations at BT

Yang Chaobin, President of 5G Product Line from Huawei said: “There are two different ways to realise the digitalisation of society. The first one is to have dedicated infrastructure for different requirements and the second one is to have a common infrastructure serving different vertical industries. I believe the latter, which uses network slicing, will be critical to effective delivery of services and improved efficiency.”

The two giants haven’t specifically suggested what research they’ll conduct, however, they plan to demonstrate their findings in Barcelona next year at the Mobile World Congress.