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Other Future Technologies

As presented in this section, 5G networks will rely on several optimization techniques and concepts, such as Software-Defined Networking (SDN), Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) and Fog Computing (FC). They are presented in this part.

SDN is an emerging architecture that allows network administrators to manage network services through abstraction of lower-level functionality. The system that makes decisions about where traffic is sent (the control plane) is then decoupled from the underlying systems that forward traffic to the selected destination (the data plane). SDN requires some methods to allow communication between the control plane and the data plane. The architecture is dynamic, manageable, cost-effective, and adaptable, and so well suited for high bandwidth and dynamic nature of today’s applications.

NFV (also known as Virtual Network Function (VNF)) is a network architecture concept that offers a new way to design, deploy and manage networking services. The solution relies on IT virtualization related technologies to virtualize entire classes of network node functions into building blocks that may be connected, or chained, to create communication services. A VNF may consist of one or more virtual machines running different softwares and processes, on top of industry standard high volume servers, switches and storage, or even cloud computing infrastructure, instead of having custom hardware appliances for each network function. Thus, NFV decouples the network functions from proprietary hardware appliances so they can run in software. It is applicable to any data plane processing or control plane function in both wired and wireless network infrastructures.

MEC is a system that offers application developers and content providers cloud computing capabilities and an IT service environment at the edge of the mobile network. This environment is characterized by ultra-low latency and high bandwidth as well as real-time access to radio network information that can be leveraged by applications. MEC provides a new ecosystem and value chain. Operators can open their Radio Access Network (RAN) edge to authorized third-parties, allowing them to flexibly and rapidly deploy innovative applications and services towards mobile subscribers, enterprises and vertical segments.

FC is an architecture that uses one or a collaborative multitude of end-user clients or near-user edge devices to carry out a substantial amount of storage (rather than stored primarily in cloud data centers), communication (rather than routed over the Internet backbone), and control, configuration, measurement and management (rather than controlled primarily by network gateways such as those in the LTE).

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