RAN World 2018, with TIM as Host Nation Operator Partner

09-10 October 2018
Rome, Italy

Interview with Mustafa Ergen, Board Member, 5GPPP & Networld2020 European Technology Platform

You addressed the issue of RAN virtualization at RAN USA 2016, in what form do you believe the RAN of the future will exist?

Virtualization is the hottest transcending technology to replace network’s hardware with software. This is powered by lowered IT costs and new revenue potential of novel products and services that are provisioned way quickly. This technology in the very start pioneered by VMware Inc. and then virtualization of other layers became prominent target for problem solvers. Virtual networks and its logical extension virtual local area networks  have been around for some time. Even telecom operators are in process of rolling wider area virtual networks.  Now, virtualization is entering a new phase and heading to south in cellular networks towards radio.

The transformation underway in the Radio Access Network (RAN) can be considered the logical extension of Network Function Virtualization (NFV) after core network. Its impact will get bigger when harmonization takes place in heterogeneous networks of 5G. This process is meaningful for cellular operators facing spectrum crunch and financial quagmire and I expect that the significance of radio virtualization will be just as big as virtualization in cloud computing.

Today, we need a mainly an infrastructure to build a cellular operation. Apparently we don’t have wherewithal to connect next billions in the planet and current networks are connected islands of different ownerships, arousing rising cyber risks.

With 5G, we can imagine one consolidated infrastructure abstracted out by virtualization. The very same infrastructure can be the servicing layer of everything that is needed. Costs, speed to market and paradigms are differentiating factors. Benefits are tremendous; system will function with fewer pieces of hardware that are less specialized and cheaper variety. Plus services can be deployed more quickly and for each network slice, dedicated resources are guaranteed. An error or fault occurred in one slice does not cause any effect on communication in other slices.

This saves a lot of money and gives us a hell-bent opportunity to build networks for untethered population, which is now bigger than the population of the connected world.

What does that mean for architectures and new infrastructure?

Context of network slicing in 5G is being actively discussed everywhere. Both operators and vendors are advocating heavily it as the ideal network architecture to establish an infrastructure that removes the showstoppers for innovation and consolidate the market for the coming 5G era.

The idea is not far from even partitioning a hard drive into many drives or operating a different operating system over the host OS. This on the other hand has to establish in geographically distributed hardware with different ownerships to isolate device, access, transport, and core network. Architecture has now another vertical dimension since 5G is not merely for mobile broadband but also for Vehicular Networks, Device to Device communication, Carrier Internet of Things (IoT) that could be massive or mission-critical. All require different type of cellular features in terms of mobility, charging, security, reliability, policy, latency, etc.

We shouldn’t solve this problem with dedicated network for each service but slicing. Implementation of network slicing in the core and RAN has a prerequisite: NFV that basically uses commercial COTS servers to install core network functions to make core network as a core cloud and RAN network functions to generate an edge cloud. Control system is over SDN where the SDN Controller performs mapping between tunnels and cloud. Hence, this generates slicing.
As a result voice will have a slice completely different configuration compared to massive IoT slice or tactile IoT slice. Even a subscriber or a cluster of base stations might have a slice to have different parameter set. This will be in the hands of operators that can program network slices the way they want, probably in the most cost-effective and lucrative way. 

What strategic planning is required to build the 5G platform of the future?

Network platform of 5G is still shaping up, with concerns and issues being resolved. There are some alternatives in discussion (e.g., wish list from operators and vendors), but no standard definition has been made yet. To begin with, 5G perspectives would have to be clear first and narrowed into one.

We should imagine a harmonization leap forward crossing borders that may enable us drop plural ‘s’ in the word of ‘operators’!  With such a technology and infrastructure, what will prevent an operator (such as AT&T, Vodafone, Softbank etc.) to consolidate the market and gain the whole worldwide subscriber set then?

Or could an operator functionality of the entire world be a web service of Google, Apple, Facebook or Amazon?

We’ll be discussing within 5G.

If this will be network of future, stakeholders shouldn’t be operators and vendors only.  Such a technical vision that can enable a single operator to grasp the entire market should enrich stakeholder set with Internet/OTT companies, handset vendors, and financial instruments as well even to define the technical tidbits.

"...one of the best conferences I’ve been to in the last few years, due to the content and speakers I met. A combination of amazingly deep content and knowledgeable speakers really made a difference."

Dr Michael Fritsch, Telecommunications and Technology

Platinum Sponsors

JMA Wireless, Platinum Sponsor at RAN World

NEC, Platinum Sponsor at RAN World

Gold Sponsor

Comarch, Gold Sponsor at RAN World

radio desing


Silver Sponsor

Mavenir, Silver Sponsor at RAN World


Working Group Sponsor


Tech Innovator

spectrum effect


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