Network slicing is beginning to make waves in the consumer mobile market, courtesy of Hong Kong operator SmarTone and Ericsson.
This week these two companies took the wraps off a new app that uses network slicing to enable both 4G and 5G customers to temporarily boost the speed of their connection. The idea behind it is that an end user might want to stream video from a busy location like a stadium, or an enterprise customer might have to remotely attend an important Zoom meeting, or a gamer might be worried about lag.
In scenarios like these, rather than rely on a best effort connection, they can use the app, which Ericsson calls Dynamic End-user Boost, to create a high-throughput network slice that offers a faster, more reliable connection.
Not that you’d know from the official press release, which makes no specific mention of the term network slicing, one of the hottest topics in mobile since the dawn of 5G. Sure enough though, Ericsson’s Website clears up any confusion.
“We understand that customers may occasionally need to boost their mobile data connectivity when they are in business-critical or important social-networking situations. Thanks to this new innovative application, our network is now capable of offering our customers the possibility to boost connectivity in an easy-to-use mobile app, allowing them to always stay on top of things, as well as enjoy the best network experience on SmarTone’s network,” said Stephan Chau, SmarTone’s CTO, in a statement.
It’s certainly interesting to see network slicing applied to the consumer mobile market in tandem with the enterprise market. Typically when slicing is mentioned it pertains to supporting enterprise use cases like mission-critical comms, or managing access to certain categories of commercially-sensitive data and applications. Admittedly VR frequently crops up as a use case, but it’s often cast as something an enterprise can deploy to improve staff productivity.
In the case of Dynamic End-user Boost, which Ericsson offers to telcos as a white-label service, slicing is being pitched as a way to add value to both consumer and enterprise connectivity, and therefore improve customer satisfaction and loyalty. According to Ericsson’s own research, 50 percent of businesses and 40 percent of consumers are willing to pay for better control of their user experience for critical mobile sessions.
“Ericsson Dynamic End-user Boost instantly maximises your content and user experience in a dynamic way that has not been possible before. If you are downloading or uploading a file on the go, need to run a videoconference, interacting with a business application, or having a gaming session from your mobile, it just works without any hassle,” said Martin Zander, head of One Network Solutions at Ericsson.
“The mobile application will allow service providers to better utilise unused capabilities in their networks. This is a great example of how we innovate to help service providers monetise their 4G and 5G network investments to the benefit of consumers, business users and enterprises,” he added.
SmarTone is the first mobile operator in the world to roll out Dynamic End-user Boost, but other markets are sure to follow soon. On a related note, also this week, Vodafone announced it partnered with Ericsson to trial 5G network slicing with on-demand quality of service (QoS) control. The trial created and configured a network slice tailored to support a VR use case in just 30 minutes. Meanwhile, during Mobile World Congress, Ericsson rival Nokia announced commercial 5G edge slicing trials with Cellcom in Israel and Sweden’s Telia. It has taken its sweet time, but network slicing finally seems to heading out into the wild.