The Virtual Key to Unlock 5G & 4G Data

by: Fergus Wills, Director of Products, Enea


Data is at the heart of nearly everything in today’s hyperconnected world. This is particularly true for mobile telecom networks. Yet mobile operators have found that their legacy data management systems are unable to keep up, failing to provide the capabilities they need to monetize and access services as they transition from 4G to 5G.

With 5G networks, it’s all about agility. When it comes to launching new services and network slices across public and private networks, fast access to data is critical. Application, profile, and subscriber data have to be available accurately, seamlessly, with low latency, across many different sites in a decentralized model. Otherwise, operators cannot bring innovative new services to life quickly and effectively monetize their 5G investment.

The beating heart of 5G

Not all 5G ecosystems are created equally, and many operators lack a comprehensive view across vertical data silos. This not only hinders their ability to launch new services and on-board new clients, but duplicate and fragmented data drives up the costs of storage, access and operational management. In order to realize their return on 5G, mobile operators should consider deployment of a common network data layer architecture across legacy and 5G systems. A cloud native fabric of data access which allows control and user plane functions to write and update data to a common layer but make it accessible anywhere in the system.

The challenge faced is that operators are still at the mercy of vendor lock-in and lack sufficient control of their (own) data. That’s why Enea introduced the industry’s first telco grade virtualized 5G data schema, based on 3GPP guidelines to unlock the 4G/5G data path from the network core to the edge. Developed for the Stratum Network Data Layer, its open standard virtual schema allows operators to take full control and ownership of their data by mapping 4G and 5G data models into single customizable read/write views.

The telco-grade solution breaks through vertical data silos, enabling operators to implement new use cases such as edge computing, network slicing and IoT, while interworking seamlessly with 4G systems and the 5G core. This powerful 5G data management system can seamlessly access multiple data sources — an important factor for synchronization to resolve latency and performance issues. By breaking down vertical data silos and creating a harmonized data model, the virtual schema provides the solid foundation that operators need to build agile 5G ecosystems.

Life on the edge

A common problem with yesterday’s proprietary, centralized databases is a lack of scalability, due to an architecture that requires all data to be stored and distributed in a small number of large databases. This means that a service at the edge has to make multiple transactions back to the core site just to get the data they need to function, which results in accumulated delay and latency. This lost time is the enemy of 5G. In other words, a fast access system is slowed down by the slowest link to an old data management system. This legacy pain point significantly hinders mobile operators trying to introduce a new service where changes need to be made and selectively replicated in different parts of the network.

The 5G virtual schema provides dynamic read-write capabilities, allowing operators to make changes quickly. Data that is created or updated in one location can be accessed and read anywhere— from the core to the edge — securely and instantly while avoiding synchronization issues. This robust data management solution allows data to live at the edge to deliver low latency, but selectively and automatically synchronizes data across the region or whole network, delivering safe data management at the edge. With virtual schema and Stratum’s cloud-native capabilities, mobile operators can have full control and visibility of when, where and how their data feeds their architecture dynamically.