Controlling Next-Generation Software-Defined RANs
IEEE Communications Magazine, July 2020, Vol. 58, No.7, page 58 - 64.
Abstract - Compared to previous mobile generations, the 5Gsystem architecture offers more flexibility to fulfill a richer setof diverse requirements. Three system aspects play a major rolehere: support of network slicing, a split between the user planeand the control plane, and a service oriented control architecture.Emerging techniques of network softwarization such as Software-Defined Networking (SDN) are leveraged to provide this notionof flexibility manifested in a Software-Defined core network.However, in addition to the 5G Core (5GC), analogous conceptscould be applied to the Next Generation Radio Access Network(NG-RAN) to sustain the required system performance. Drivenby the increased attention that is currently paid to a Software-Defined Radio Access Network (SD-RAN), in this article, wepropose the Radio Access Network Control Function (RANCF)as an additional 5G control function. We define the mainfunctionalities of RANCF and propose interfaces and protocolsfor the interaction with 5GC functions. Exploiting network slicingas an example, we demonstrate how RANCF facilitates the sliceselection and slice management procedure.