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January 20, 2021
Mobily and Nokia are piloting 4G and 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) network slicing on the Saudi Arabian operator’s live network.
Nokia heralded the Riyadh-based trial as the first sliced FWA deployment in the world.
The trial is ongoing and is being conducted in multi-vendor environment Nokia said, without disclosing the identities of other vendors involved. It’s worth noting though that Mobily inked three-year network modernisation deals with Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei in 2017. The pilot included sliced access, transport and core networks with management and assurance capabilities, Nokia said.
On a practical level, networks slicing potentially gives Mobily the ability to segment its customer base, although it didn’t give much away about its plans.
“Network slicing will enable mobile operators to rapidly provide, manage and assure services within minutes,” said Mobily CTO Alaa Malki, in a statement. “Each slice can have a different network performance, quality, routing and security capabilities as well as Key Performance Indicators for service assurance.”
Essentially, that means Mobily will be able to offer better quality services to its higher-spending customers, such as high-priority consumer users and business customers. It could also carry out per-application slicing, in areas including voice, data, online gaming and home office applications.
In recent financial reports, the operator has been keen to talk up its credentials as a business services provider and is reporting solid revenue growth across both its business and consumer operations. In its Q3 report, Mobily noted that it had rolled out 5G networks in 48 cities in Saudi Arabia.
But network-slicing is not limited to 5G infrastructure.
Nokia notes that it’s network slicing solution works in LTE, 5G non-standalone (NSA) and 5G standalone (SA) networks, providing mobile broadband connectivity from 4G and 5G devices and CPE to cloud applications through sliced access, transport and core.
“With the Nokia slicing solution Mobily can divide its network into multiple virtual networks and offer FWA service tiers and premium services to its customers utilizing advanced network resource allocation mechanisms,” the Finnish vendor said.
We look forward to seeing some real-world applications of the technology.
Mary has been following developments in the telecoms industry for more than 20 years. She is currently a freelance journalist, having stepped down as editor of Total Telecom in late 2017; her career history also includes three years at CIT Publications (now part of Telegeography) and a stint at Reuters. Mary's key area of focus is on the business of telecoms, looking at operator strategy and financial performance, as well as regulatory developments, spectrum allocation and the like. She holds a Bachelor's degree in modern languages and an MA in Italian language and literature.
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