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Wireless Communications and Mobile Computing
Volume 2019, Article ID 5264012, 19 pages
Research Article

A Flexible Network Architecture for 5G Systems

1Samsung R&D Institute, UK
2Huawei GRC, Germany
3CEA LETI, France
4Nokia Bell Labs, Germany
5UC3M, Spain
6Nokia Bell Labs, France
7Telecom Italia, Italy
8Mobics, Greece
9TUK, Germany
10Nomor Research, Germany

Correspondence should be addressed to Mehrdad Shariat; moc.gnusmas@tairahs.m

Received 2 August 2018; Revised 10 December 2018; Accepted 31 December 2018; Published 11 February 2019

Academic Editor: Antonella Molinaro

Copyright © 2019 Mehrdad Shariat et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In this paper, we define a flexible, adaptable, and programmable architecture for 5G mobile networks, taking into consideration the requirements, KPIs, and the current gaps in the literature, based on three design fundamentals: (i) split of user and control plane, (ii) service-based architecture within the core network (in line with recent industry and standard consensus), and (iii) fully flexible support of E2E slicing via per-domain and cross-domain optimisation, devising inter-slice control and management functions, and refining the behavioural models via experiment-driven optimisation. The proposed architecture model further facilitates the realisation of slices providing specific functionality, such as network resilience, security functions, and network elasticity. The proposed architecture consists of four different layers identified as network layer, controller layer, management and orchestration layer, and service layer. A key contribution of this paper is the definition of the role of each layer, the relationship between layers, and the identification of the required internal modules within each of the layers. In particular, the proposed architecture extends the reference architectures proposed in the Standards Developing Organisations like 3GPP and ETSI, by building on these while addressing several gaps identified within the corresponding baseline models. We additionally present findings, the design guidelines, and evaluation studies on a selected set of key concepts identified to enable flexible cloudification of the protocol stack, adaptive network slicing, and inter-slice control and management.