Could And Should Future 5G Networks Include Open Core Access?

Experts argue the 5G core network may need to be open to fully realize goals of next-gen wireless networks.

Could And Should Future 5G Networks Include Open Core Access?
Thomas Magedanz of Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems

May 24, 2021 — An open 5G core isn’t just a near possibility in the future of 5G deployment but may be a necessity if it is to adequately deliver on its promises, says a panel of network experts at an international 5G symposium.

The “open 5G core” would alter the way core networks operate by creating a “cloud-native” infrastructure where the core network resides, from which mobile network operators would source to deliver their 5G service to customers. One vendor would supply the core network to the mobile network operators.

This open core would help solve many of the challenges facing 5G deployment, and bring it closer to delivering on many of the promises it still is “far away” from fulfilling, according to Thomas Magedanz of the Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communication Systems.

The Open Core Network

Presently, mobile network operators such as Verizon Wireless of AT&T own the necessary equipment to control their own networks and supply internet access and phone service to their respective customers. However, the present network architecture may be insufficient to deliver the high-speed connectivity promised with 5G, some experts say.

The growing need for high-speed broadband have challenged the models, leading some experts to believe the current network architecture is unsustainable.

A global community of companies and organizations known as Telecom Infra Project, however, aims to “change the operation of core networks,” according to Veronica Quintuna, Future Network Expert of Orange S.A., through the implementation of the Open Core Network.

While individual network operators may have insufficient means to match the growing demand for high-speed connection, the Open Core Network would be large enough to provide the needed infrastructure to support 5G, from which the individual networks could source through and deliver to customers.

The OCN may even reduce the final costs of production for the various network operators, which could lead to faster connection speeds at a lower price in the future.

The Future of Networks

While 5G networks are still popping up and strengthening around the globe, Magedanz is already researching 6G networks, which he estimates will be ready for market delivery around 2030, claiming that the German government is already investing in the project by funding research.

While 5G offers a host of exciting promises around faster speeds and better connection, he believes that, much as 4G perfected the advent of 2G, 6G will be what truly delivers on what 5G is expected to be.

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