5G is humankind’s greatest blessing for some, but others might think otherwise. Though it isn’t commercialized yet, it is one of the most polarizing advancements we have ever seen in the world of communication. There are consumers worldwide who are looking for next-level communication, high download speed, and split-second responsiveness, but have divided views on 5G owing to the issues related to privacy and security.

There hasn’t been anything so controversial and questionable in the rollouts of 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G. What is so unique about the 5th generation of wireless connectivity? Simple logic – the stakes are higher than ever before. Public and private interests are trying to rush toward something that they don’t understand fully.

5G is not the same as the Gs that came before. So implementing this technology does not simply require an upgrade of the network; instead, it demands a new type of network altogether. However, it is also clear that this technology will have an unprecedented impact on the way humans live.

Everyone wants that piece of the pie, but it isn’t clear on how are they going to claim it.

Thus, network virtualization is a way to enable the future of 5G networks. It is the 5G network that will rely on network virtualization to manage the spectrum and optimize Opex (operating expense) and Capex (capital expenditure) efficiencies—these two will come together and enhance the user experience for each subscriber.

Importance of network virtualization for 5G success

But, first of all, do you know the meaning of virtualization?

It is a technology that helps in creating useful IT services using resources that traditionally existed in the form of hardware. It allows using a physical machine’s full capacity by distributing the capabilities among various users and environments.

Network virtualization is the process that involves the consolidation of hardware and software resources into a software-based virtual network. It is important for the success of the 5G network because mobile network operators seek to find efficient solutions for managing the spectrum while reducing costs. These virtual networks will provide tremendous network efficiencies and give operators the ability to deploy new services for their customers. Without virtualization, 5G will not be able to meet the connectivity requirements.

Below mentioned are the virtualization factors contributing to the success of 5G:

Creation of network slicing

In the network core, 5G virtualization will use network slicing to accommodate multiple virtual networks over one physical infrastructure. Network slicing or call it the logical separation of the network in a way that each slice provides unique connectivity, yet all these slices run on the same shared infrastructure. In that way, 5G virtualization will provide a new level of flexibility.

Through network slicing, operators will be able to create unique services that are customized for various use cases such as streaming video, remote healthcare, automated cars, and IoT. Network slicing will provide the operators with the capability to expand, diversify, and improve their revenue streams in a cost-effective manner.

With an aim to support a certain set of services, each of the network slices will be able to access different types of resources, which includes infrastructure (VPNs, cloud services) and virtualized network functions (VNFs). 5G virtualization is so efficient that it will help in the creation of custom networks that are combined with a unique set of capabilities.

Building at SDN and NFV level

5G network virtualization will authorize the division of hardware resources into functions that can be controlled by network functions virtualization (NFV). It works in a way to optimize network services. There is an associated network management approach, namely, software-defined networking (SDN), which establishes a centralized view of the network.

In simple words, SDN provides the complete abstraction of physical network infrastructure. NFV ensures the deployment of network functions, which acts as a perfect substitute for physical appliances.

Shape the right intent

For dealing with the runaway complexities (issues arising midway) and keeping customers happy, it is not enough to simply automate the legacy processes. It is not the right way to script out step-by-step instructions for every possible eventuality in 5G services. The communication service providers need to embrace the true “intent-based networking.”

It is a network provisioning model where changes can be expressed and accepted easily. It needs a network to be then able to assemble all the pieces to make the desired service happen, without having a human spell it out on how to do it. The intent-based network is the core foundation of flexible service deployment. However, many communication services providers are still in the early stages of figuring out how to implement them.

Equal amount of threats

The benefits of 5G are widely discussed. But there is an equal amount of risk that exists. 5G comes with several cybersecurity concerns that weren’t present in the earlier network generations. One reason is that it provides a greater amount of connectivity that creates a larger potential attack surface. Another reason is it facilitates IoT and 5G, which invite billions of more devices lacking baked-in cybersecurity features or are managed by applications that are poorly secured.

The cause of the problem is SDN and NFV. Their open, flexible, programmable nature will create a new range of security threats. A cyberattack that targets the SDN controller can bring down the entire system.

Therefore, one of the 5G’s defining features is the potential for convergence of cyber and physical realms. Cyberattacks can target the virtualized world of 5G in a way that can have a real impact on the physical world.

Wrapping up

Undoubtedly, the 5G network will change the way we work, live, play, and see the future coming. No matter how many breakdowns are encountered, people will not leave any stone unturned to achieve the success point of 5G.

Virtualization is a profound step toward the liberation of 5G’s genuine capacity. Features that unite and create its strength are those that help in making it more open to attack. The more we dig deeper into the priceless features of the 5G network, we will come across more possible ways it can be used against us.

To make the network truly change the world, we need to put in the same amount of innovation for its security as we are doing for its development. Find more such content and information in our latest whitepapers on networking.