Network slicing provides flexibility by layering several virtual networks within a shared, physical one. These virtual networks can operate independently and optimize the performance of a given application. To understand the benefits of network slicing, consider two examples of the challenges that can arise from running the applications together and the ways network resources can be optimized specifically to better support these applications.
The first use case is the differing requirements imposed on the network by an Internet of Things (IoT) application that uses static, low data rate sensors, as opposed to one that uses high definition video surveillance cameras.
An IoT sensor application can support a very large number of devices, but bandwidth requirements on the network are typically low, due to the limited data rate generated by those sensors. Although the requirements of this application could potentially be addressed by a 4G network, the massive device density—and associated control and management overhead—can be seamlessly supported by Massive Machine-Type Communications (mMTC) on 5G.
On the other hand, an IoT video surveillance application, in particular one that uses HD video, presents a substantial bandwidth demand on the network. This use case can be accommodated by the Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) high bandwidth capability of 5G. As a result, the network can be virtually partitioned in slices, each one tailored to support different scenarios with competing network requirements. This can allow one physical network to deliver, seamlessly, the public safety customer experiences promised by 5G for first responders for both massive sensorization and low bandwidth, as well as very high bandwidth use cases.