As the wireless industry inches closer to our 5G future, it’s critical that company leaders understand its true value for business and what technologies will power it.

During a breakout session at the 2018 VMworld conference in Las Vegas, VMware principal solutions architect Dharma Rajan, broke down what 5G is and why it matters. Rajan also explained specific technologies like network slicing and service function chaining (SFC), and the role they’ll play in 5G.

For starters, it’s important to define 5G. Basically 5G is the fifth generation wireless network standards that will succeed 4G, LTE, and 3G networks, Rajan said. It will open up new opportunities in bandwidth and lower latency to power next-generation apps and tools.

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According to Rajan’s presentation, 5G will bring 1-10 Gbps and support more common tools and frameworks such as commercial off-the-shelf hardware, X86 hardware, and ARM architecture.

5G will bring super fast connections, up to 100 times faster than 4G, Rajan said. It will also offer high capacity and 5x lower latency than previous generations. High spectrum efficiency in 5G will support 1000x more mobile data volume, and it brings a 10-100x improvement on the high end user data rate, Rajan said.

Ultimately, 5G will enable smart everything–utilities, transportation, cities, and smart farms, for example. 5G readiness and rollout will be dependent on spectrum, but 13 countries have completed 5G spectrum auctions, Rajan noted in the presentation.

In traditional networks, everything was built on capacity, Rajan said. With virtualization, you no longer need to build it on capacity. That’s where network slicing comes in.

Rajan defines a network slice as a “self-contained logical network with its own virtual resources, topology, traffic flow, provisioning rules with established QoS, security and measurable performance metrics to provide telecommunication services and network capabilities.”

There are also multiple kinds of slices that a company can use. In 5G, the network can be sliced horizontally or vertically based on certain solutions or services you want to enable, Rajan said. For businesses, it enables new flexibility with targeted services, enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), lower latency communications, and massive machine type communications, Rajan said.

In the presentation, Rajan also touched on SFC, which allows for network services to be chained together, in order, to power specific tasks. Combined with the power of 5G, SFC can be used in network slicing to provide metadata updates, enable inter-slice communication, boost slice security, and make it easier to manage network slices, Rajan said–all of which can help create new workflows.