Slicing the Mobile Packet Core

The Evolved Packet Core (EPC), the core system of the LTE network, was designed as a “flat architecture” in order to handle the payload (the data traffic) efficiently from a performance and cost perspective. The user plane (the data) was also separated from the control plane (the signalling) to make scaling independent. Thanks to this functional split, mobile network operators are able to dimension and adapt their network easily.

However, due to the phenomenal increase of users and proliferation of mobile applications, the current mobile network architecture faces many challenges in regards to scalability, speed of deployment and cost per subscriber/subscribed device.

The progress in NFV technology now allows a virtualised EPC (vEPC), or multiple vEPC’s to run on so called General Purpose Nodes (GPN’s) based on standard core-class server hardware and Hypervisors to provide the virtual instances.

When introducing new services such as IoT or M2M, or adding various MVNO clients, it is now possible to run vEPC’s in parallel to your already deployed EPC. This way different services or applications can be separated into multiple vEPC’s which scale much better, faster and at a fraction of the cost of traditional EPC deployments.

This concept is known as “Network Slicing” and we at Cirrus Core Networks foresee a wide adoption of this architecture due to its many benefits it has for the mobile network operator.

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