Improve Network QoE and Reduce TCO with N6 LAN Optimization

Executive Summary

As service providers migrate to 5G, N6-LAN consolidation will allow them to improve Quality of Experience (QoE) while reducing total cost of ownership (TCO). Moving away from a multi-vendor approach eliminates issues with interoperability, and consolidation can also create opportunities for service providers to use rich, contextualized data to improve their value-added service offerings.

Reduce TCO and Improve QoE with N6 LAN Consolidation

Service providers are progressing through their 5G transformation journey, evolving from a combined 4G-5G non-standalone (NSA) architecture to 5G standalone (SA). Customers want 5G because it promises greater speeds and lower latencies; to make good on those promises, service providers must optimize the services offered on the N6 interface. 

Service providers who choose a multi-vendor, best-of-breed approach risk increasing the complexity of their 5G network architectures.

5G is built on a containerized, cloud-native infrastructure. The move to cloud-native architectures with 5G creates an opportunity for service providers to reduce the device sprawl that occurred with 3G/4G on the S/Gi-LAN and migrate to a best-of-suite approach. Service providers who choose a multi-vendor, best-of-breed approach risk increasing the complexity of their 5G network architectures as a result of challenges with vendor interoperability. Interoperability issues can also reduce the benefits associated with virtualizing service provider networks, introducing additional points of failure into the system and making it difficult to scale. As a result, service providers could be faced with increases in both CapEx and OpEx, as well as delayed delivery of new services to subscribers, leading to loss of new revenue streams and lowered subscriber QoE. This is exactly why consolidating N6-LAN is crucial; it allows service providers to build a fast, flexible, and high-performance network with improved opportunities for value-added services and new revenue streams.

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Consolidation Benefits

N6 LAN simplifies the design, deployment,
and operation of critical network functions
at the edge.

Key Functions

•  Subscriber security services
•  Local DNS (LDNS)
•   Load balancing
•   Policy enforcement with intelligent traffic steering
•  Carrier-grade network address translation (CGNAT)
•  Firewall and DDoS
•  TCP optimization 
•  Video optimization

Why is N6 LAN Optimization Important?

The N6 LAN is the portion of the 5G network that carries data from the User Plane Function (UPF) to the Internet. It performs the same function as the S/Gi-LAN does in a 4G network. This interface is also the point at which a number of very important network services are applied to traffic, for example, subscriber security services, local DNS (LDNS), carrier-grade NAT (CGNAT), firewall and DDoS, TCP optimization, and video optimization. Because of these roles and this placement in the network, N6-LAN plays a critical role in enabling service providers to optimize their 5G networks (see Figures 1a and 1b).

Figure 1a: Prior to optimization, vendor interoperability issues can increase network complexity and TCO.

Figure 1b: By simplifying the network, F5’s N6 LAN consolidated solution frees resources that can be used to create new revenue streams.

How can service providers benefit from N6 LAN optimization?

Service providers need to differentiate themselves from their competitors. They can do this by offering value-added services that attract subscribers and generate new revenue streams, by optimizing the network infrastructure to provide customers a better QoE, or both.  

To identify the right value-added services, and to apply the policies that enforce those services, service providers need greater visibility into the data being sent through their networks. Data without context doesn’t give much value. Data that can be linked to an individual app and subscriber and that is available in real time provides enough information that service providers can identify what sort of services their customers want. This same contextualized, real-time data allows service providers to implement more granular traffic management policies, making it easier to monetize these new offerings. Service providers can also improve the customer experience through network and content optimization techniques such as TCP optimization and video optimization. Ultimately, all of these efforts are meant to generate new revenue streams and reduce customer churn through increased QoE.

Contextualized, real-time data allows service providers to implement more granular traffic management policies, making it easier to monetize new services.

Although it is possible to offer a variety of services on the N6 network via multiple vendors and solutions, this creates significant network complexity. Success depends on the service provider’s ability to coordinate the different hardware and software models and management interfaces, as well as their ability to chain these products and solutions together to produce the desired service. This model is also expensive. The capital costs to purchase the different components are significant, and the system as a whole carries a high operational cost resulting from the need to support and maintain multiple vendors’ solutions. Service providers adopting this service model also must train and staff the operational team that will manage the infrastructure.


What are the benefits of N6 LAN consolidation?

A consolidated and containerized N6 LAN solution helps service providers implement a cost-effective operational model that reduces time to market for new services and cuts down on network complexity.

N6 LAN consolidation improves security and allows dynamic service chaining based on real-time subscriber and application awareness, in turn facilitating the development of new value-added services and new revenue streams. In addition to creating new monetization opportunities, N6 LAN consolidation can also reduce OpEx. By deploying a shared set of commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware to run various functions, a service provider can reduce hardware costs and deploy multiple services dynamically. This cloud-based model means service providers can use network resources more efficiently, delivering services based on real-time network conditions. Services can be launched without any network downtime, increasing service agility. A containerized N6 LAN lets service providers innovate, improve subscriber QoE, and lower costs, resulting in up to 60% TCO savings, based on several F5 Customer Case studies.


Savings From Consolidated Containerized Services
Based on Several F5 Customer Case Studies

•  Lower CPU (central processing unit) usage
•  Fewer CPU hops, which minimizes latency
•  A “zero copy” memory architecture that optimizes 
   resource consumption
•  Network simplification, easier orchestration and management
•  Simplified troubleshooting
•  Easier to implement new services and software upgrades


N6 LAN consolidation creates opportunities for service providers by improving the ability to get meaningful insights from data in real time and by reducing operational costs. This allows service providers to identify new monetization opportunities and improve customer QoE.



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