In Smart Cities, 5G Software-Defined Architectures Change the Game — Part 2



By: Chris Swan

Concluding our two-part series on Smart City 5G Security

To Realize the Potential of 5G, Security Must be Built into the Network

While providing a better viewing experience for consumers is one aspect of a full 5G world when it comes to business, enterprise and government adoption of 5G, the IoT and Industrial IoT is the primary driver of ultimately creating value (connected solutions with high ROIs).

Inflexible cellular architectures impose significant and seemingly insurmountable challenges given the diverse nature of IoT devices, edge components, the distributed geographic nature of many use cases and multiple cloud providers for computing that is not happening at the edge.

Wireless software-defined networking, including a Software-Defined Perimeter (SDP) and Software Defined Gateways (SD-GWs), can, with the proper engineering, optimize cross-layer communication functions between heterogeneous IoT devices and radio-based systems.

Moving towards a unified software-defined platform for Quality-of-Service aware, or QoS-IoT systems and software-defined radio access networks (SD-RANs), these cross-layer platforms can save energy, optimize throughput and secure data transmitted and held in storage.

5G at its best will evolve into a multi-service network supporting performance, service and security requirements, and will serve many different industry verticals with common standards. It will also have interoperability with many different kinds of technologies and become affordable enough to make large scale roll-outs of connected solutions viable.

5G at its best will also support the dramatic growth of not only fixed, but mobile devices, which are the lifeblood of our hyperconnected society, for consumers and businesses and accordingly, the fifth-generation mobile systems architecture will support a vast and ever-changing array.

To manifest the potential of 5G, and to make a “service-oriented” 5G vision a reality, network function and service layers, as well as service Management and Orchestration (MANO) are maturing rapidly, leading to successful network slicing and software-defined provisioning, management, and optimization. This is a competitive market for all the right reasons, so decision-makers need to remain diligent in exploring the depth of options before them.

We can no longer “delaminate” the layers of the network and expect to get the quality, security, and cost efficiencies necessary to make the leap to 5G worth it. We need to look at intelligence and security built into the network at all layers, and to reconsider the “pathways” to network optimization and data protection.

Most mobile data networks today have an irreversible design flaw: a dependence on one path to transfer data. While this one-track approach worked well for a time, the demands on the network continued to grow, leading to the introduction of 5G.

Struggling to handle everything from transferring massive files to managing a barrage of edge devices (laptops, tablets, smartphones, IoT devices, and more) network performance has deteriorated in noticeable ways.

Bandwidth shortages. Slower throughput. Ever-increasing instances of latency and jitter.

The only sure way to improve network performance is to improve network design. While we are making the shift to 5G, this is an ideal time to address how “one track” networks transform into SDN approaches that divide data and consequently conquers performance challenges.

Hardware agnostic, SDN overlay networks divide session-layer IP traffic into smaller, independent packet streams, then sends each stream across a different, individually encrypted path. The performance and security benefits are enormous.

During every session, premium virtual networks aggregate and utilize all of the connections, including broadband, MPLS, WiFi, satellite, traditional cellular, and in the future – 5G.

By creating one large, logical pipe, the right Virtual Network Architecture enables bandwidth utilization without changing network configuration and puts control at the edge. Any edge device can configure the network based on its location and available connections. This decreases latency and secures data and application delivery.

Faster and less complex than VPNs, lower cost than physical circuit-based networks, and more secure than SD-WANs, the next VN combined with 5G offers the future-proof flexibility that most service providers and product developers need to convert their ideas into innovations, and their innovations into revenue-generating and profitable services.

What do innovators really want? A consistent, immediate, and secure experience with no packet loss, no downtime, application prioritization, and all at a reasonable price – from spinning up network connections to managing entire private networks that run over the public Internet which are nearly impossible to hack.

No matter how you slice it, virtualizing and controlling Radio Access Networks in the new world of 5G is a problem worth solving. Ask any innovator who is passionate about bringing their digital service to life. The promises of a software-defined, high-speed, connected world are impossible without next generation virtual networking.

Want to know more? Reach out to Chris Swan at

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