Driven by the increase of cases, 5th generation mobile networks (5G) will play a key role in increasing the capacity of the current networks in order to handle the data traffic generated by the expected 30 billion devices in circulation by 2021.
5G will enable new applications like autonomous driving, remote control of robots and smart homes, but these also bring a lot of challenges to the existing network.
Some of these are related to the need to provide a latency as short as a few milliseconds and a high reliability compared to existing networks.
However the biggest challenge is to cater for a diverse set of services and their varied requirements. To achieve this, 5G networks need to offer a more flexible architectural framework.
5G consists of a new Radio Access Network (RAN) definition and could be seen as a framework that combines the new with existing technologies to meet the requirements of 5G applications.
It should provide an efficient relationship between 5G and the current LTE-Advanced service as the latter could already meet the requirements for some of the newly discussed use cases, much like the Narrow Band Internet-of-Things, which enables a wide range of devices and services to be connected using cellular bands.
In order to address the imposed 5G requirements, a novel 5G mobile network architecture is foreseen to support the expected service diversity and flexible deployment, this is expected to be based on Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) for the unification of Access and Core Network functions.
One way to address these different use cases is through the use of ‘network slicing’. It is an end-to-end concept where the user of a network slice sees it as a separate logical network having similar properties of a dedicated network, but in fact is achieved using a common infrastructure (processing, transport or radio) which is shared with other network slices.
Physical network resources are separated from the logical network using the principles of Function Virtualisation, which makes the elaboration of complex network functions easier since it uses existing functions blocks.
Standardisation efforts for 5G have already begun and the concerned collaborators have already launched a significant number of projects (METIS, 5GNOW, iJOIN and PHYLAWS) to explore the available technological options.
The aim is to identify the important role that some general design principles are expected to play in 5G networks like the support of slicing and the flexible placement of functions to support different use cases.
Nevertheless, in such an heterogenous environment, topics like network management and security need to be revisited and new mechanisms need to be introduced.
Hamza, Consultant, Leyton France
 A.Gupta & R. K. Jha. A Survey of 5G Network: Architecture and Emerging Technologies. In Special Section in IEEE Access: Recent Advances in Software Defined Networking for 5G Networks, pages 1206-1232, 2015.
 5G PPP Architecture Working Group. View on 5G Architecture White Paper. Version 1.0, 2016.
 I. D. Silva, G. G. Mildh, A. Kaloxylos, “Impact of Network Slicing on 5G Radio Access Networks”, EuCNC, Athens, 2016.
 MulteFire Release 1.0 Technical Paper. A New Way to Wireless.