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Embrace the 5G Opportunity with LPG [Interview]

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As part of a series of new innovations following the recent MWC event in Barcelona, a leading conference in the telecommunication and mobile technology industry, Ericsson now launches its new Local Packet Gateway (LPG) solution to enable various enterprise 5G edge use cases that their clients, primarily communication service providers (CSPs), can directly make use of in case they choose to adopt this new technology.

An expert from Ericsson was kind enough to do an interview with TechAcute on exactly these new possibilities but before we dive into that, let’s first check into the basics.

What is Ericsson Local Packet Gateway offering, and how does it work?

The Local Packet Gateway is a pre-integrated solution, which means that it’s easy for CSPs to deploy for fast time to service for new enterprise services, without lengthy project timelines to plan and stage the new services. It delivers an optimized dual-mode user plane footprint that helps manage user data traffic, which has been designed to work optimally for on-prem (within the premises, opposite to cloud usage) and edge applications.

Why is that good? For the CSPs, this means a lower cost for infrastructure deployments in the project phase and simplified lifecycle management in the operations phase of a service. On the other hand, the end-user can benefit from the indirect benefits of that, as well as being able to access new services much quicker and leveraging better performance. This can potentially involve sports event applications, including esports, as well as VR gaming services, or even AR for industrial use cases in manufacturing or similar environments.

It’s not unusual for novel technology such as IoT, 5G edge, and similar tech stacks that the potential is often so vast that companies have a hard time finding and defining problems that the newly introduced products could solve. So what needs to happen is that the sales and marketing teams not only need to shout out about their latest features but carefully listen to their clients’ and prospects’ worries and pain points. This is how use cases then can take shape.

Cellular-equipped factory layouts can be reconfigured instantly to adapt to changing requirements and products - Ericsson Local Packet Gateway
Image: Ericsson

In the press release shared by Ericsson Monica Zethzon, Head of Solution Area Packet Core, states, “With the launch of the Ericsson Local Packet Gateway we have taken yet another step in supporting our CSP customers to address the enterprise market, by providing a powerful, slimmed-down user plane that’s easy to deploy at the edge, using an integrated lifecycle management making it easy to scale.” followed by more independent insights from Caroline Chappell, Research Director at Analysys Mason.

She adds, “CSPs want flexibility in deploying 5G private networks and delivering network slices and will therefore need a user plane solution that is fast and easy to install and manage on customer premises. Ericsson Local Packet Gateway, with its pre-integrated, appliance-based solution including in-built lifecycle management and a form factor optimized for the enterprise edge, will be familiar from a management perspective and help with time-to-service for new enterprise use cases.”

Interview with the head of user plane for 5G Core at Ericsson

A user plane, sometimes known as (user) data plane, is the “layer” that carries the network user traffic. This is particularly relevant for carriers, or CSPs, in other terms. Next to the user plane, the other two major categories here are the control plane and the management plane. Because this particular area of communication infrastructure technology is ways apart from enterprise technology and even more so from consumer tech, we were happy that Jerry O’Leary, Head of User Plane, 5G Core, Ericsson, took the time to answer all our questions for this particular news.

CI: Hi Jerry, and thanks so much for the opportunity. What is Ericsson launching that is new in the edge computing space, and what issue will it solve?

JO’L: Thanks, Chris. We are excited that Ericsson’s new product launch called the ‘Ericsson Local Packet Gateway‘ will help our customers, the Communication Service Providers (CSPs), unlock new 5G edge use cases. What’s new is that this is a pre-integrated solution, so it’s easy and fast for CSP to deploy and gain time to service, which will help them realize the 5G potential and capture new enterprise services.

What it does is that it provides an optimized dual-mode user plane designed for on-premises and edge deployments. For the CSPs, it means they will have a lower
cost for infrastructure deployment and lifecycle management.

You asked what issues it would solve. The most pressing issue is the cost and complexity to provide a 5G edge to new users by launching a one-unit single-server full-stack appliance that is easy to manage and deploy. It is small but powerful, taking on board the full feature potential from Ericsson Packet Core Gateway. This solution includes software, hardware, Container-as-a-Service (CaaS) & OS, orchestration, and lifecycle management.

CI: Is this the first time we have edge integration with 5G Core?

JO’L: This is the most accessible product we have ever made to help bring edge use cases to market. Since the origins of 5G Core edge integration have been possible but complicated, CSPs can start addressing edge use cases now through the release of this pragmatic product.

CI: What kind of edge computing use cases will this support?
JO’L: The Local Packet Gateway enables many new use-cases, local replay, and analytics at, for example, sport and esports events, allowing logistic centers to implement their local applications on site with control over the privacy of their information, enabling 5G based smart manufacturing.

There are many enterprise use cases on premise which can be offered by CSPs using LPG as a cost-efficient alternative to other private network solutions, e.g., for small and medium enterprises, the LPG provides connectivity and dedicates on premises bandwidth, slicing, and routing to local applications, advanced security services, and will evolve with standards and devices eco-system.

Furthermore, there is a set of new evolving technologies, namely XR, AI, and the decentralized Internet, which will motivate new UCs requiring 5G edge computing and which could be enabled by LPG, we hear lots lately on the Metaverse, but there can be others such as, e.g., blockchain/crypto native banking and finance. Possibilities are immense, and we need to see how these markets evolve.

CI: How will this help CSPs to move into the enterprise market?

JO’L: The Ericsson Local Packet Gateway removes three main barriers for CSPs to enter and explore this market, one, complexity; with a full-stack appliance that integrates seamlessly with Ericsson’s dual-mode 5G Core and OSS systems, two, TCO, the approach of LPG greatly reduces fixed and lifecycle costs to enable these new use case, and finally performance and characteristics of the LPG means that the core network is ready for anything the enterprises need.

CI: I am a gamer. Tell me more about the gaming use cases. Will it be able to support immersive AR gaming?

JO’L: Me too, but I am still stuck on PC gaming. However, I do not doubt that AR and VR will be amazing. From playing some earlier VR games, I know responsiveness and field of vision are crucial to user experience. We know that the new generation of virtual and augmented reality games requires aggressive characteristics to integrate visual and audio content in real-time, which translates to low latency and very high bandwidth. From a back-of-a-napkin calculation, we can support hundreds of unique advanced VR streams on a single LPG, which is enabling one of our more exciting use cases in Asia to provide LPG with a private 5G network for a new concept of a 5G VR Arcade.

CI: Thanks so much for speaking to us and sharing your thoughts on this new service.

Closing thoughts

As I mentioned above, sometimes, with new technology and novel solutions, it’s not directly clear what kind of problems this could solve. People who are working in factories, for instance, might have a hard time imagining, just based on specs, how on earth this could be beneficial for their production or quality assurance. The same goes for gaming, esports, other entertainment formats, or even education. This is normal because we are talking about a technology that provides the infrastructure for CSPs, which leverage all of this to offer solutions to their clients.

So in order to comprehend the value of novel solutions in the world of infrastructure technology, you need to think several years ahead. This type of solution helps companies to help companies, to help companies, to build a truly unique product or service for the end-users, but this isn’t something that you can use tomorrow as a consumer. But does it make it any less interesting? Certainly not. It’s more like we are seeing a type of enablement that developers will be able to leverage in the future to deliver competitive services in the world of B2B and fantastic experiences in the world of B2C.

I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of problems LPG will solve in the future and how it will impact us all as consumers down the line.


Ericsson embraces 5G edge opportunity with new Local Packet Gateway

Photo credit: All images shown in the article have been provided by Ericsson.
Editorial notice: The interview was edited and condensed for clarity.

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Christopher Isak
Christopher Isakhttps://techacute.com
Hi there and thanks for reading my article! I'm Chris the founder of TechAcute. I write about technology news and share experiences from my life in the enterprise world. Drop by on Twitter and say 'hi' sometime. ;)

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