NEC launches new User Plane Function (UPF) product

21st February 2024
Harry Fowle

In April 2024, NEC will launch a new User Plane Function (UPF) product for telecom operators that can be used to process user data traffic in 5G core networks.

Offering an enhanced built-in Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) function enabling visualisation of communications quality and the collection of traffic data, an interface for external exposure that provides data to external systems (external analysers) for deep analysis, and multi-platform compatibility, the new UPF will contribute to building the flexible, high-value-added networks for the Beyond 5G/6G era.

Background behind the introduction of the new UPF

In the Beyond 5G/6G era, the application of mobile networks will expand to Internet of Things (IoT) devices, smart cities, and industries ranging from construction and civil engineering to manufacturing. Accordingly, service-level agreements (SLA) will become more diversified, requiring low latency, high reliability, stable throughput, and more. Networks compliant with such a wide variety of SLA will require the flexibility to enable telecom operators to not only grasp communications quality in a timely and precise manner but also to properly reflect analysis results on the network side.

Keys to enhanced functionality

Real-time monitoring of communications quality and timely utilisation of data

To maintain and improve communications quality and reliability, the new UPF facilitates real-time monitoring of communications quality and the acquisition of data that can be used for traffic analysis. Information such as the type of application utilised by the user, the volume of communications data for each application, the throughput experienced, and the number of packets discarded is necessary to fully comprehend and preserve communications quality. The enhancement of the built-in DPI function has made it possible to visualise and convert the data required for each application type used. As a result, telecom operators can analyse traffic trends and carry out real-time monitoring of communications quality for each application, thus contributing to higher customer satisfaction through swift responses to reports from corporate customers and users, the provision of new rate plans based on service trends, and more.

External device linkage for the realisation of SLA-guaranteed mobile networks

The new UPF is equipped with an interface for providing a variety of data acquired by monitoring communications quality to external analysers. By incorporating this interface, external analysers can be used to quickly analyse the data required to improve network operations, including the detection of signs predicting poor connectivity due to degradation of communications quality and the autonomous preservation of user experience quality. Improvements in the accuracy of analysers will accelerate the realisation of SLA-guaranteed mobile networks.

The construction of flexible networks through multi-platform compatibility

In the Beyond 5G/6G era, it is anticipated that coverage will expand to all locations, including those not adequately covered by existing networks—namely, the sea, sky, and space. It is also believed that all things will be connected to networks. While up until now it has been commonplace for core networks to be installed and operated within the private data center of telecom operators, it is expected that there will be a need to utilise public clouds and install servers closer to customers to perform data processing as coverage expands. Based on open technology and infrastructure, this product enables packet processing independent of specific platforms, making it possible to flexibly respond to those needs. It not only gives telecom operators greater freedom in building their networks, but it also reduces deployment time, accelerates service delivery, and maximises revenue.

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