Superfluidity Project wants to build a cloud-based 5G network

(Image Credit: iStockPhoto/Todor Tsvetkov)

A consortium of vendors and institutions are collaborating on a project called 'Superfluidity' which hopes to build a 5G network based on cloud principles. The converged 5G virtual network and service platform will be distributed over the mobile edge and core of 5G networks extending up to data centers. 

The project describes itself as tackling "crucial shortcomings in today’s networks: long provisioning times, with wasteful over-provisioning used to meet variable demand; reliance on rigid and cost-ineffective hardware devices; daunting complexity emerging from three forms of heterogeneity: heterogeneous traffic and sources; heterogeneous services and needs; and heterogeneous access technologies, with multi-vendor network components." 

Superfluidity's partners will confront these shortcomings using a multi-pronged comprehensive strategy which focuses on five key areas:  

  • Flexibility, via an architectural decomposition of network components and network services into elementary, reusable primitives. 
  • Simplicity, via a cloud-based architecture, getting rid of access-specific gateways and integrating heterogeneous JBOAs (“just a bunch of accesses”) within a converged cloud-network infrastructure ranging from the core all the way to the network edge. 
  • Agility, via virtualization of radio and network processing tasks. 
  • Portability and viability, through platform-independent abstractions, permitting reuse of network functions across multiple heterogeneous hardware platforms, while allowing for the vendors’ need for closed platforms or closed source implementations. 
  • High performance beyond the state of the art, via software acceleration, specialization and adaptation to hardware accelerators, while making these mechanisms transparent to network service designers so that they can focus on the development of novel services and not performance optimization. 

Collaborating on the project are renowned names including NEC, Intel, Citrix, Red Hat, and OnApp. Telcos involved at the moment include British Telecom, PT Inovação e Sistemas, and Telefónica. Adding their expertise and knowledge to the consortium are research institutions including CNIT, the University of Liège, the University of Technology in Dresden, University of Ben Gurion, and the University Politehnica of Bucharest. 

Playing the role of technical coordinator of the Superfluidity Project is telecoms equipment giant, Alcatel Lucent. CNIT will be the project co-ordinator of Superfluidity. The work, scheduled to have a 30 month lifecycle, began on the 1st of July 2015 and should therefore conclude before the 1st of February 2018. 

What do you think about the Superfluidity project? Let us know in the comments.

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