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5G network as envisioned by KT - Analysis of KT's 5G network architecture
November 03, 2015 | By Dr. Harrison J. Son and Dr. Michelle M. Do @ Netmanias (tech@netmanias.com)
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Page 2 of 2


3. 5G access network to unify wireline and mobile access


One of the most noticeable 5G strategies by KT is aggressive unification (or integration) of wireline and mobile access networks. KT is currently running E-PON for wireline access, and CPRI fronthaul for mobile access.


Wireline access network is a packet network that delivers Ethernet frames while mobile access network is a circuit network that delivers CPRI frames. Then, the question here is how the two, packet and circuit networks, will be unified?


As we discussed in 2) above, future network in 5G era would be a packet network between CU and AU, rather than CPRI network between DU and RU. I believe the unified access network would be more like a new type of PON that delivers Ethernet frames. KT's master plan is to aggregate all of its traffic, including those from home broadband, mobile cell site and enterprise, through the unified access network.



4. Software-centric Architecture: 5G RAN and 5G core to be implemented as software on commercial servers

Another eye-catching 5G strategy of KT is introduction of software-centric architecture. This means 5G RAN and core network functions are virtualized and implemented on commercial servers as software. 5G core can be divided into user plane and control plane. User plane is to be installed in edge clouds across the nation while control plane is to be installed in the central cloud. Application servers are to move down to edge clouds as well.


Functions of DU and RU will be re-defined as those of CU and AU. Software-based CU will be installed in edge clouds, but AU, based on hardware, will be installed in cell sites.


In edge clouds, application/cache servers, user plane of 5G core, and CU of 5G RAN are all installed as virtualized.


Everything, except for AU in cell sites, is software, and so works on virtualized servers, not on RAN vendor-supplied dedicated equipment.


Figure 3. Cloudification of 5G RAN and 5G Core



Following is an illustration of KT's technical concept on how to control clouds (central and edge), unified wireline and mobile access network, and backbone network, by using respective SDN controllers. Although not very detailed as not much information has been disclosed yet, the following illustration should help to understand the big picture that KT is trying to paint.


Figure 4. KT's software-centric architecture for 5G






Page 2 of 2
mouse1598189 2015-11-13 09:11:12


Alex 2015-11-13 19:20:17

Very interesting but I couldn't download it since the registering of a login profile seems to be broken.

Netmanias 2015-11-18 17:15:02

Alex, Sorry for the inconvenience. 
Would you provide us more detail?  Please send us a e-mail to webmaster@netmanias.com.  

Thierry Van de Velde 2015-11-30 19:23:40

This is the most sensible and best Operator strategy I have seen on 5G, we at Alcatel-Lucent are fully in line with this!  We call the 3 approaches placing baseband processing at the RU while keeping the higher layers at the DU (vRAN node) "midhaul" as opposed to "fronthaul" (baseband at DU, CPRI between RU and DU) and "backhaul" (macro eNB and small cells including all layers upto and including PDCP).  Also on the core the approach makes a lot of sense with both distributed UP nodes (for access to local applications with low latency) and centralized UP nodes (for non-delay-sensitive applications) but always centralized and virtualized CP nodes.  Also the integration of Wi-Fi AP on the same core is presented.  Very, very nice article.

Netmanias 2015-12-02 12:46:05

Thank you for your compliment. We are glad you liked it. 

Jalal (Huawei) via LinkedIn 2016-02-23 09:17:57


Charles Q. Tran 2016-03-24 08:14:30

Many global incumbent service providers failing miserably with good old mindset and strategies. Korea Telecom has visionsary leaders and smart employees. The world has changed and it is critical to future success to "in sharing its strategies, network architecture, and technologies."

As a customers and investors, Korea Telecom is a right company for a long term investment.

abdelrahman ahmed sayed 2016-05-23 13:48:17

its a very good articale 

Netmanias 2016-05-29 04:11:50

Thank you for reading. Hope it was helpful.

Le Ngoc Quang 2016-08-19 18:38:33

Thank you for your sharing, in the case of core nodes (user plane) distributed to tens of edge nodes nationwide, how many subscribers per each edge node?

safelocks 2018-11-10 14:00:55

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jamesflarson 2018-12-20 14:32:00

I would like to use the grapic in this post (showing 4G versus 5G architecture, in a forthcoming book.  Of course, I will cite Netmanias as the source.  Who should I contact regarding permissions?    Professor James F. Larson, Chair, Department of Technology and Society, SUNY Korea.  Thanks in advance for your reply.

info@celitech.com 2020-06-27 08:52:13

Thank you for this very informative article Netmanias.

Team Celitech.

Thank you for visiting Netmanias! Please leave your comment if you have a question or suggestion.

[HFR Private 5G: my5G]


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