Sponsored By

Network slicing prepped for prime time with A1, Nokia and Microsoft trial

Austrian telco A1 has trialled edged-based network slicing on its live network, marking another step towards the commercialisation of this long-awaited technology.

Nick Wood

February 13, 2024

2 Min Read

A1 teamed up with Nokia and Microsoft, the former supplying its Edge Slicing solution, and the latter providing its Azure-based managed edge compute solution.

The technology is deployable on both 4G and 5G cellular networks – provided the necessary cloud-based infrastructure is in place – and supports smartphones with user equipment route selection policy (URSP) capability.

What stands out about this particular trial is that it took place on A1's live network in Vienna. It suggests that the operator is prepping the technology for its long-awaited commercial debut.

A1 used the tech to create high-performance virtual private networks (VPNs) that it could one day pitch at its enterprise customers. Obviously a network slice isn't a prerequisite for a VPN, but with slicing, its performance can be tailored to specific uses, and some sort of guaranteed quality of service (QoS) can be offered.

A1 says it has eyes on the retail, media, utilities, healthcare and transportation sectors.

As for specific use cases, A1 showed off real-time HD video streaming by transmitting live camera feeds from several mobile devices. For this particular aspect of the trial, it relied on streaming specialist Multicast.io's streaming platform.

"This innovative solution enables A1 to deliver secure, reliable and high-performance enterprise VPN services integrated with edge cloud applications over our 4G/LTE and 5G networks. This collaboration opens up new business opportunities and demonstrates our commitment to delivering innovative services for our enterprise customers, as well as realising the full potential of 5G technology," said A1 chief executive Marcus Grausam.

"This deployment with our partners, A1 and Microsoft is further demonstrating Nokia's leadership in network slicing as well as our mission to help our customers unlock further 5G monetisation opportunities," added Tommi Uitto, president of Mobile Networks at Nokia. "Edge cloud network slicing gives customers the best of both worlds with network slicing and edge cloud applications that enhance the enterprise customer experience."

Similarly to BT's announcement last week, A1's update shows how long the industry has been talking about slicing without actually launching it, which underscores just how much of an undertaking it is for telcos to roll out all of the infrastructure it requires.

In 2020, A1 and Nokia conducted a slicing trial in partnership with Austrian federal railway company, ÖBB, which used it to provide more precise positioning data about its trains.

In February 2021, A1 extended its existing network partnership with Nokia to include 5G RAN and core infrastructure. A1 and Nokia said at the time that it paved the way for the commercial implementation of 4G and 5G network slicing.

This week's trial in Vienna is evidence of further progress, but it is still not a fully-fledged launch, and once again the canned quotes provide soundbites about slicing's potential rather than the realisation of it.

About the Author(s)

Nick Wood

Nick is a freelancer who has covered the global telecoms industry for more than 15 years. Areas of expertise include operator strategies; M&As; and emerging technologies, among others. As a freelancer, Nick has contributed news and features for many well-known industry publications. Before that, he wrote daily news and regular features as deputy editor of Total Telecom. He has a first-class honours degree in journalism from the University of Westminster.

Get the latest news straight to your inbox.
Register for the Telecoms.com newsletter here.

You May Also Like