Network slicing? ‘It’s time,’ says T-Mo CTO

‘It’s time to deliver on the promise of 5G,” writes T-Mo’s John Saw

It’s August 2023, roughly four years after mobile 5G began to appear in the United States and still in the early days of 5G Standalone network availability. One of the key features of 5G—network slicing—may finally be taking the stage.

Earlier this month, T-Mobile US announced its network beta phase for developers based on application type, with the aim of bringing new video calling applications. Now, T-Mo’s CTO John Saw gives a peek at a recent, real-world implementation of 5G SA network slicing and declares in a new blog post that the carrier is “leading the charge globally to bring one of the biggest promises of 5G to life.”

Saw recounts the use of T-Mobile US’ 5G network slicing for remote video production at a Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series event in early June. Divers jumped from diving platforms jutting from the roof of the Contemporary Museum of Art, into Boston Harbor.

“We used a 5G Hybrid Mobile Network from T-Mobile’s 5G Advanced Network Solution (ANS) suite paired with the extreme power of our nationwide 5G SA network to boost Red Bull’s broadcasting capabilities,” Saw wrote. “This customized slice gave the broadcast team supercharged wireless uplink speeds so they could easily and quickly transfer high-resolution content from cameras and a video drone circling the event to the Red Bull production team in near real-time over T-Mobile 5G.” Uplink speeds, he added, reached up to 276 Mbps.

Saw emphasized that this boost to specific, uplink-heavy usage occurred amid other heavy usage from fans in attendance—nearly 20,000 people who were taking and uploading pictures and video of the event. “Because of network slicing and traffic management, their traffic did not impact the Red Bull production – and vice versa,” Saw wrote.

He went on to call out a driverless car jam in San Francisco which was blamed on loss of wireless connectivity due to increased traffic at a large nearby event. “With network slicing, we can work with communities to make key infrastructure and transportation networks more reliable, helping to prevent something like that from happening again,” Saw offered. “Network slicing also allows us to maximize the efficient use of spectrum. With an increase in demand straining limited spectrum resources, network slicing allows us to ensure that critical communication needs are met without having to build excessive capacity scaled to meet extreme loads.”

He also added that T-Mo’s previously announced beta for video calling applications has seen “tremendous interest from the developer community with dozens of companies large and small signing up to join the likes of Dialpad, Google, Webex by Cisco, Zoom and more.” Video calling applications, Saw added, require “consistent uplink and downlink speeds along with increased reliability”, conditions that could meaningfully leverage a network slice.

Saw said that new network management capabilities enable T-Mobile’s 5G SA network to be configured into slices with customized network performance characteristics such as highly reliable throughput or consistent low latency. 

“With the only nationwide 5G SA network in the US, we are uniquely positioned to bring the dream of network slicing to life, delivering 5G benefits across the country,” he wrote, adding, “It’s time we fulfill the promise of 5G. And I’m so incredibly proud to say T-Mobile is leading the charge.”

Grand View Research has said that it expects the network slicing market to see compound annual growth rate of 50.7% through 2023. Fortune Business Insights predicts a similar CAGR of 51.1% through 2023, culminating in a market of nearly $13.7 billion by the end of the forecast period.

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