Validating a 5G-Enabled Neutral Host Framework in City-Wide Deployments
2. Background on Neutral Host Concept and Enabling Technologies
- An increasing need for enhanced and ubiquitous connectivity in urban context coupled with more demanding requirements of radio coverage and bandwidth.
- The pivotal role within 5G of smart cities, in which municipalities may act as potential 5G neutral host providers.
- A neutral host framework is a perfect candidate to fully satisfy the 5G requirements for different use cases (e.g., eMBB, URLLC, mMTC) concurrently deployed over a shared infrastructure.
2.1. Cloud/Edge Computing and Orchestration
2.2. Virtualized Multiradio Access Network
2.3. Our Contribution
3. Overview of Neutral Host Framework
3.1. Service/Application Layer
3.2. Orchestration & Control Layer
- Activate deployed slices by launching required servers (i.e., mobile core for serving cellular network slices and DHCP servers for IP assignment of Wi-Fi slices), together with the corresponding configuration of radio access chunks.
- Perform required postinstantiation configurations to deploy VNFs, in terms of enabling external connectivity, registering tasks and alerts for monitoring purposes (in the Monitoring component), and DNS deployments.
- React to triggered alerts to conduct the corresponding actions (as established by the SLA Manager ), such as horizontal scaling of specific VNFs.
3.3. Infrastructure Layer
4. City-Wide Deployments
- Infrastructure Deployment: the conceived three-tier architecture, including a RAN tier, an edge tier, which can be further extended to be closer to end-users, and a core Data Center (DC) tier, is mapped into physical infrastructure resources consisting of radio components, edge/MEC servers, and DC servers;
- Infrastructure Setup Validation: to verify the correct installation and performance of the deployed infrastructure in the three cities, a similar set of validation tests was conducted. The main objective of these tests was to verify performance and better profile configurations in the three pilot environments;
- Platform Installation: deployed servers at edge and DC sites in every city provide computing resources to host the different components of the software platform of the neutral host framework. In general, each software module of the platform is installed as a Virtual Machine (VM) in the virtualized computing infrastructure and interconnected to allow the required interaction among them;
- Platform Setup Validation: the validation of the deployed platform consisted of a set of functional tests aimed at verifying the correct integration of the various orchestration elements, as well as the execution of lifecycle management operations for infrastructure resources, slices, and network services.
4.1. Infrastructure Deployment in the City of Barcelona
4.1.1. Core Tier
4.1.2. Edge/MEC Tier
4.1.3. RAN Tier
4.2. Infrastructure Deployment in the City of Bristol
4.2.1. Core Tier
4.2.2. Edge/MEC Tier
4.2.3. RAN Tier
4.3. Infrastructure Deployment in the City of Lucca
4.3.1. Core Tier
4.3.2. Edge/MEC Tier
4.3.3. RAN Tier
4.4. Deployment of the Neutral Host Platform
- The VIM was implemented in the core and edge DCs using OpenStack (release Queens). This cloud platform is currently the most widely deployed open-source cloud infrastructure software in the industry.
- Additionally, to support the deployment of NSs based on containers, we also installed Fog05  as the extended edge VIM of the platform. This open-source project enables the deployment of services in resource-constrained devices, which are close to end-users, thus minimizing the service latency.
- To orchestrate the lifecycle of NSs within the 5G-enabled slices, we deployed OSM as the NFVO of the platform.
- Finally, as part of the vRAN capabilities offered by the neutral host framework, we also deployed the dRAX Open Interface RAN Intelligence  solution. This cloud-native component runs virtualized in the edge/MEC infrastructure to manage the associated small cells as radio units, which effectively unlocks the potential of 5G network slices for multitenant operators. All this while ensuring low latency and processing at the edge for deployed radio services.
4.4.1. Automated Deployment
- Day 0 Configurations: The tasks automated in this group were related to the creation of VMs for each of the platform components. To this end, we used Terraform , a cloud-agnostic management tool that provides a flexible way to define the computing and networking requirements of platform components as a blueprint that can be deployed at any moment.
- Day 1 Configurations: Once the VMs are instantiated on the cloud infrastructure, the following task to address is related to the code installation and configuration. This was accomplished using Ansible , which has proven to be very efficient to configure, deploy, and orchestrate the code of each platform component.
4.4.2. Platform Deployment Validation
- Individual tests: All elements of the platform were individually tested after accomplishing the deployment of each component to corroborate their functionality. These tests validated the attainment of the expected behavior of every developed module and feature.
- Integration tests: To verify the proper interaction between components of the platform, specific integration tests were performed. Particularly, the performance of these tests validated the entire workflow involved in the lifecycle automation of a neutral host framework, in terms of infrastructure (registration, configuration, and removal), slices (creation, activation, and removal), and services (onboarding, instantiation, and removal).
5. Use Cases Deployment
5.1. VNF and NS Composition and On-Boarding
- The platform administrator acting as neutral host provider creates a dedicated repository and user account for the media vertical tenant. The referred user is granted the role of Designer, which allows tenants to design functions as well as compose them into services.
- In turn, the media vertical tenant, using the platform SDK, conducts the creation of the required functions and composes an NS for the application.
- Once the service creation is completed, the resulting function and service descriptors are published into the 5G Apps & Services Catalogue of the platform.
5.2. Slice Creation and Activation
5.3. Network Service Instantiation
6. Validation of Use Cases
6.1. KPIs and Measurement Methodology
6.1.1. User Experienced Data Rate
6.1.2. Data Plane Delay
6.1.3. Slice Deployment Time (SDT)
- Slice Creation Time (SCT): refers to the amount of time it takes the Slice Manager to return the results of a submitted slice creation request to an end-user. This operation includes the sequential creation of all the chunks belonging to the slice and the grouping of those chunks. This time is measured from the moment when the creation request of a slice is sent to the Slice Manager, until receiving the confirmation that the slice was created.
- Slice Activation Time (SAT): refers to the amount of time it takes the Slice Manager to return the results of a submitted slice activation request to an end-user. This operation includes the instantiation of the mobile core and the configuration of the corresponding PLMNID in the RAN nodes included in the slice. This time is measured from the moment that the request is sent to the Slice Manager, until receiving the confirmation that the slice is ready to be used. Such confirmation is provided after receiving the acknowledgement from OpenStack about the mobile core instantiation and from the RAN Controller regarding the radio nodes configuration. Note that still additional seconds might be required to complete both operations as well as to finalize the Day1 configurations on the mobile core (based on cloud-init).
6.1.4. Service Instantiation Time (SIT)
- Set up of the networking in OpenStack required to connect each VNF included in the NS with the Monitoring component;
- Computation of the VNFs allocation (i.e., VNF-to-compute-chunk mapping) according to the algorithm employed by the Resource Placement component;
- Deployment and configuration of the NS instance through OSM as NFVO.
6.1.5. Service Scaling Time (SST)
6.2. Results Analysis
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
|3GPP||3rd Generation Partnership Project|
|5G PPP||5G Public Private Partnership|
|5GNR||5G New Radio|
|AAA||Authentication, Authorization, and Accounting|
|C-RAN||Cloud Radio Access Network|
|DHCP||Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol|
|DNS||Domain Name System|
|eMBB||enhanced Mobile Broadband|
|ETSI||European Telecommunications Standards Institute|
|GUI||Graphical User Interface|
|IMT||International Mobile Telecommunication|
|ITU||International Telecommunication Union|
|KPI||Key Performance Indicator|
|LTE||Long Term Evolution|
|MANO||Management and Orchestration|
|MEAO||MEC Application Orchestrator|
|MEC||Multi-Access Edge Computing|
|mMTC||massive Machine Type Communications|
|MOCN||Multi-Operator Core Network|
|MORAN||Multi-Operator Radio Access Network|
|MVNO||Mobile Virtual Network Operator|
|NFV||Network Function Virtualization|
|NFVI||Network Functions Virtualization Infrastructure|
|NGMN||Next GenerationMobile Networks|
|OSM||Open Source MANO|
|PLMNID||Public Land Mobile Network ID|
|RAN||Radio Access Network|
|RAT||Radio Access Technologies|
|ROI||Return of Investments|
|SDK||Software Development Kit|
|SDR||Software Defined Radio|
|SLA||Service Level Agreement|
|URLLC||Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communications|
|vEPC||virtual Evolved Packet Core|
|VIM||Virtual Infrastructure Manager|
|VLAN||Virtual Local Area Network|
|VNF||Virtual Network Function|
|VPN||Virtual Private Network|
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|User Experienced Data Rate||Mbps||Mbps||Mbps|
|Data Plane Delay||ms||ms||8 ms|
|Slice Deployment Time||s||s||s|
|Service Instantiation Time||s||s||s|
|Service Scaling Time||s||s||s|
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Fernández-Fernández, A.; Colman-Meixner, C.; Ochoa-Aday, L.; Betzler, A.; Khalili, H.; Siddiqui, M.S.; Carrozzo, G.; Figuerola, S.; Nejabati, R.; Simeonidou, D. Validating a 5G-Enabled Neutral Host Framework in City-Wide Deployments. Sensors 2021, 21, 8103. https://doi.org/10.3390/s21238103
Fernández-Fernández A, Colman-Meixner C, Ochoa-Aday L, Betzler A, Khalili H, Siddiqui MS, Carrozzo G, Figuerola S, Nejabati R, Simeonidou D. Validating a 5G-Enabled Neutral Host Framework in City-Wide Deployments. Sensors. 2021; 21(23):8103. https://doi.org/10.3390/s21238103Chicago/Turabian Style
Fernández-Fernández, Adriana, Carlos Colman-Meixner, Leonardo Ochoa-Aday, August Betzler, Hamzeh Khalili, Muhammad Shuaib Siddiqui, Gino Carrozzo, Sergi Figuerola, Reza Nejabati, and Dimitra Simeonidou. 2021. "Validating a 5G-Enabled Neutral Host Framework in City-Wide Deployments" Sensors 21, no. 23: 8103. https://doi.org/10.3390/s21238103