Unleashing the Full Potential of 5G with Robust Data Management

By Daniel Forsgren, Senior Vice President Product Strategy, Enea

Most early 5G networks are non-standalone deployments that re-use the functionality of 4G core networks. However, to fully exploit the benefits of the latest mobile network technology, it will be necessary for operators to deploy a dedicated 5G core network.

The Service-Based Architecture that comes with 5G also means that operators will be able to select individual suppliers for various network functions.

A fundamental part of a 5G core network is the data management system, including functions such as Unified Data Management and Unified Data Repository. This new system architecture will allow applications for network and business operations to securely store and access data, and operators to have a unified view of all data.

With the introduction of 5G, the volume of subscriber data will increase dramatically. Not only because the number of private subscriptions is growing but mainly due to the adoption of Internet of Things applications on a large scale. This means that scalability will also be a key aspect of data management for 5G.

What does this mean for 5G data management in 2020?


#1 Operators will recognize the value of data management

The importance of authentication is self-evident but data can also help gain new insights, for example about subscriber and device behavior. This is primarily of commercial value but can also concern other important aspects such as cybersecurity. For the long-term success of operators, it is essential that a data management system provides the capabilities for analysis and produces these types of insights. Last but not least, the data management system is of course also critical from an operational point of view. It holds all the data required to set up calls and data sessions, to charge subscribers for services, and to monitor trends in the network. Any new data management system therefore needs to offer exceptional performance in terms of reliability and resilience.

#2 Operators will embrace a best-of breed approach

The most powerful and flexible data management systems combine a stateless frontend with a database backend. To date, large operators typically use their own backend systems while smaller operators select a combination from the same vendor as for the rest of the core network. When implementing a 5G core network, operators will be able to choose individual components that best suit their needs and requirements - integration in a multivendor environment has never been easier. This also means that operators can differentiate their offering and gain a competitive edge by working with the most flexible and innovative data management specialists.

#3 Operators will demand cloud-native solutions

Most operators used a traditional method to install and update software for 4G networks. It was virtualized but never truly cloud-based and again, most of the core network functionality was sourced from a single vendor. However, the game is about to change. Cloud-native solutions will become the norm in 5G networks, which opens up a range of new possibilities for operators and create business opportunities for specialist vendors that can offer an edge beyond standard compliance. Furthermore, the increased competition will make the software-as-a-service business model more common and prevent vendor lock-in effects. From the operators’ perspective, cloud-native solutions will also enable continuous integration and continuous delivery. The benefit of this concept is that it will reduce operational costs but also improve reliability and scalability.