LG Uplus and Cisco 5G - Case Study
LG Uplus and Cisco 5G
Delivering diversified innovative services to customers
LG Uplus was established on July 11, 1996 and has been transforming the lives of customers since. LG Uplus strives to develop telecommunications services, hi-speed internet, VoIP and IPTV services as well as other data services. Continuing into the era of 5G and IoT, LG Uplus continues to create higher standards of service and make our customers happy.
To build a solid foundation and increase their market share, they plan on the following:
- Leverage on existing specialized services, for example, Kid’s World and strategic alliance products like My Home AI.
- Establish itself as a leader in the home media market with strategic partnership and successful IoT operations
- Position and ready itself to build and facilitate 5G networks
With thorough preparation and carefully executed initiatives, LG Uplus looks to introduce more diversified innovative services that customers can truly appreciate and take the lead in the field. For example, drone, intelligent CCTV, AR, VR, mobile IoT and others which are emerging as part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in this coming 5G era.
Challenges in rolling out 5G commercial services in Korea
Having attained more success than its competitors in the LTE services market, it hopes to become the second largest player in the mobile service market in Korea. A key identifier to the success is the implementation of 5G commercialization services and capabilities. And this will include resolving technical challenges required in virtualized 5G telecom environments to enable stable system adoption.
Firstly, LG Uplus started with identifying a 5G partner. Surveying many different solutions provided by global vendors and studying practice cases, they realized that there was no practical case study applied for 5G networks. Furthermore, it was difficult to find a case involving successful SDN deployment for the Korean mobile service network.
That was when Cisco and Cisco ACI solution came in. The winning reasons for LG Uplus to appoint Cisco as a partner for their 5G commercialization project were as follows:
- Fully functioning Cisco ACI solution in the LG Uplus IT network
- Successful case study of Cisco ACI in LTE network outside Korea
- Tried-and-tested core functions and technical capabilities by Cisco ACI
And through the partnership, LG Uplus was able to successfully deploy policy-based SDN in its 5G network and launched 5G commercial services on December 1, 2018.
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The next phase of the plan included identifying six key 5G services to focus on, which they narrowed in to the following:
Cisco ACI solution deployed
When deploying the Cisco ACI solution, LG Uplus first set up a Telco (Central) Data Center supporting both a bare metal environment and virtualization in two bases, Seoul and Daejeon, for nationwide operation of 5G commercial services.
Cisco ACI fabric was then independently deployed in each data center location and through integration with Samsung OpenStack, LG Uplus is currently operating vEPC (vMME, vSPGW and UDC). Redhat OSP, Cisco VIM, Canonical and VMWare can also be flexibly deployed in accordance with VNF requirements.
Physically, Cisco Nexus 9K switch based spine-leaf architecture was used to deploy a virtualized Packet Core solution in a single network fabric and integrated with ACI, an IPS (Intrusion Prevention System) device provided redirection of mobile user traffic. In this spine-leaf ACI fabric, three APICs acting as an SDN controller were clustered together to provide redundancy.
This ensures that 5G service network policies can be sent from APIC to all switches and if there is an error with the APIC controller, it will not interrupt 5G services.
This project was also the first time in Korea where an integration of a spine switch with 5G core network via ASR 9K was observed. This integration offered two key advantages as follows:
- L3VPN (VPNv4 and VPNv6) created using MP-BGP
- VRF (Virtual Routing and Forwarding) specific route.
These solutions can be provided using features of XR-OS including EVPN and SR depending on the customer’s needs.
LG Uplus on the results
In collaboration with Cisco, LG Uplus tested the functionality of 5G network deployment in Korea in July 2018, and also demonstrated features and performance of the solution before its deployment at the Cisco headquarters in Silicon Valley, California.
LG Uplus now uses Cisco ACI solution to manage two main data centers in Sangam and Daejeon. And a notable step forward observed is the integrated operation of Samsung OpenStack developed for the vast ecosystem of VNF, which is essential for 5G service and vendor-specific OpenStacks in a network fabric.
With this development, the SDN controller discovers VNF in OpenStack creating a communication network and thereby configures the network automatically. And now, each network fabric is integrated with hundreds of switches and IPS devices for easier management.
Key benefits following onboarding of Cisco ACI solution:
- Spine / Leaf architecture-based operation provides reliable bandwidth in case of failure.
- APIC for integrated management of all networks as a fabric
- Multi OpenStack support for virtualization
- Simple service network configuration using OpenStack
- Scalability assurance between verified SDN controller and network switches
- Rapidly develop new 5G services to meet customer needs and deliver faster
- Virtualized independent network for each customer group to increase the level of security
- Easy maintenance and reduced costs of CapEx / OpEx
5G commercial services are based on virtualization and, unlike the 4G infrastructure, LG Uplus first deployed policy-based SDN as the network infrastructure.
While the Cisco ACI solution is a major step forward in building LG Uplus capabilities, a remaining challenge involves the proximity to their end-users. Key examples requiring close proximity include driverless vehicles, IoT and Caching, which also requires MEC (Mobile Edge Cloud) based on low latency and network slicing technology. This is currently worked on by LG Uplus and Cisco.
Additionally, as part of their next steps, LG Uplus will validate the tested extended leaf architecture adaptable to its 5G network and the latest remote leaf architecture supporting small-scale MEC at a distance through IP networks for more efficient infrastructure management and cost reduction for 5G MEC deployment and management.
In addition to the basic network capabilities for 5G services, LG Uplus will also develop and apply technology policies and solutions to ensure proactive management of technical errors, human error and all other security risks for its 5G network.
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