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How does core network evolve to 5GC from EPC?

August 13, 2020 by IPLOOK
EPC (Evolved Packet Core) has ever been the crucial part of 4G LTE. While with the ongoing innovation of the telecommunication industry, 5GC (5G Core Network) defined by 3GPP turns to a rising star in core network field. 
Compared with the earlier generations, 5G deployment can carry both EPC and 5GC in its actual implementation. What’s more, 5G deployment also introduced 5GC in SA (Standalone) mode and EPC or 5GC in NSA (Non-standalone) mode, which makes it more complicated to explore the best evolution roadmap from EPC to 5GC.
However, we are always facing both opportunities and challenges. Difficulties may be the chance to develop. Let’s see four paths of evolution adapted to specific scenario.

1. 5G SA Network Deployment


Option 2 refers to deploy 5G NR (New Radio) with 5GC in 5G SA network deployment.
When the coverage of 5G is too limited to cover the whole service area, the re-orientation and inter-RAT transformation between LTE/EPC and NR/5GC should be supported under this circumstance. 
Advantage:
To make better use of the competence of 5G, we just need to upgrade the existing EPC to complete the interconnection between EPC and 5GC with this solution.

2. 5G NSA Network Deployment


The 5G NSA network architecture with the deployment of gNodeB in existing EPC (Option 3)

While evolving to 5G NSA mode, Option 3 should always be the best choice.
The picture above depicts the dual connectivity of Option 3. This option enables UE access  simultaneously through LTE or NR, and supports the LTE NSA architecture based on LTE.
Advantage: 
There is no need to deploy 5GC in early period of 5G deployment. By implementing this network architecture, the control interface of S1 is only provided to LTE eNodeB, while the user plane interface of S1 can be provided to eNodeB and NR gNodeB at the same time.
Therefore, the traffic flows in EPC should be classified.

3. Introduce 5GC in NSA Network Deployment


The 5G NSA network architecture with the deployment of 5GC, gNodeB and eLTE (Option 7)

In essence, Option 7 is the introduction of 5GC in Option 3.
Advantage:
The eLTE (enhanced LTE) after Release-15 access to the new 5GC with the control and user interfaces, whereas gNodeB only has the user interface connected to 5GC. So Option 7 can be smoothly upgraded in 5GC deployment, which could provide better function than SA Option 2. 
However, it’s unnecessary to evolve to Option 7 if the deployment of SA Option 2 becomes the mainstream option.

4. Maturity of 5G NR deployment
Once the 5G NR deployment becomes mature, the existing LTE eNodeBs in SA deployment may be replaced by NR gNodeBs.
In NSA mode, Option 3 and Option 7 can be upgraded to Option 4 which can also adapt to the LTE NSA network architecture applied in dual connectivity.
Advantage:
With the requirement of 5G NR providing continuous coverage, the control plane always set in 5G NR to fully achieve massive and strong function for users.

The rapid rising of 5GC has become an irresistible tendency. As a prominent mobile core network provider, IPLOOK always keeps pace with the innovation of core network. IPLOOK also constantly develops the path to provide converged core network for our customers. Nowadays, IPLOOK can support seven available options of 5GC deployment with various configuration according to 3GPP.



IPLOOK supports seven available options of 5GC deployment

If you are interested about our 5G deployment solution and full stack 5GC network elements such as UPF, AMF, SMF, UDM, AUSF, PCF, NSSF, NEF, NRF, feel free to contact us for more details!
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