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OPPO, Ericsson and Qualcomm demonstrated a 5G network slicing solution for Android 12 smartphones. Network slicing allows operators to change the latency and bandwidth of systems within a network. It may take years for the technique to break through, but the moment is getting closer.

Network slicing is scarcely used by operators. The technique makes it possible to quickly assign different latency and bandwidth settings to apps and devices in the same network.

Suppose you’re walking down the street and connect to 4G on a smartphone. A few meters ahead, a police officer connects to the same network on a tablet. Without network slicing, both devices run on the same bandwidth and latency. With network slicing, the bandwidth and latency can differ per device, without the user having to switch networks.

Use cases are diverse. For example, operators can allocate more bandwidth and less latency to the devices of emergency services. Network slicing is presently being used for cloud gaming, wherein an operator provides more bandwidth for gaming consumers.

OPPO, Ericsson and Qualcomm are collaborating on a 5G network slicing solution for Android 12 smartphones. The partners recently demonstrated a working concept. The trio used an OPPO Find X5 Pro, Snapdragon X65 Modem-RF System and Ericsson’s 5G Core platform. The combination made it possible to quickly change the bandwidth and latency of various smartphone apps.

Nothing new

Network slicing has been offered by major telecoms parties for years, including Ericsson. With the advent of 5G, the technique is receiving new attention. Network slicing is built into the specifications of 5G. Resultingly, operators of standalone 5G networks are better able to provide the technology than before.

It may take years for network slicing to become standard practice. A standalone 5G network is required, but operators don’t use standalone 5G at this time. Currently, most 5G networks run on a combination of 4G and 5G, with 4G at the core of the network. The software and hardware for standalone 5G networks is already available, but prices are high. Various operators hold off on investing.

Even if an operator uses standalone 5G networks, slicing isn’t guaranteed. Both the network and an end user’s device and software must support the technique. The demonstration by OPPO, Ericsson and Qualcomm proves that their technology meets the conditions. That’s a big step. Although it may take years for the average network and device to support slicing, the technique is drawing closer.