Google has successfully completed trials of technology that will allow a single Android device to switch between network slices and connect to multiple network slices at the same time.
Network slicing is viewed by operators as one of the biggest revenue opportunities of standalone 5G (5G SA) networks which use an entirely virtualised, cloud-based core network and effectively allows them to section of certain parts of the network for certain applications.
Slices can be customised to guarantee a certain speed or latency, and to cover a particular location, enabling industrial, broadcast, healthcare, and public service use cases. For example, one network slice could carry video traffic at a stadium, while another slice is reserved for safety officials.
5G network slicing
Although slicing is possible with LTE, the ultrafast speeds, greater capacity, and ultralow latency of 5G will support more advanced applications, while the software-defined and cloud-based core layer of the networks will enable the flexibility and automation required to provision and manage any number of slices.
In separate trials of User Equipment Route Selection Policy (URSP) technology with telecoms equipment vendors Ericsson and Nokia, Google was able to switch between different slices on a single Google Pixel 6 Pro device running the Android 13 operating system.
This allows operators to configure different slices for different applications, with developers able to dictate which slice should be used. For example, a gaming app might want to use a slice that has low-latency, while video conferencing software needs a higher bandwidth slice.
The capability also provides businesses with greater freedom when it comes to managing employee phones. Most staff now use the same device for both work and personal use, with businesses using mobile device management (MDM) capabilities, often creating separate profiles.
Android 13 allows devices to add up to five enterprise-defined slices to a work profile, ensuring business applications use the most appropriate slice rather than going through the same route as consumer traffic.
“As carriers and enterprises seek a return on their investment in 5G networks, the ability to provide for a wide and varied selection of use cases is of crucial importance,” said Monica Zethzon, head of Solution Area Packet Core at Ericsson.
“Communications Service Providers and enterprises who can offer customers the flexibility to take advantage of tailored network slices for both work and personal profiles on a single Android device are opening up a vast reserve of different uses of those devices. By confirming that the new network slicing capabilities offered by Android 13 will work fully with Ericsson network technology, we are marking a significant step forward in helping the full mobile ecosystem realize the true value of 5G.”
“New application-based URSP slicing solutions widen operator’s 5G network business opportunities,” said Ari Kynäslahti, head of technology and strategy at Nokia Mobile Networks. “We are excited to develop and test new standards-based URSP technologies with Android that will ensure that our customers can provide leading-edge enterprise and consumer services using Android devices and Nokia’s 4G/5G networks.”
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Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.