Brussels based BICS [1.] today announced the successful conclusion of one of the first 5G Standalone (SA) roaming trials in the world, taking place within the BICS 5G Lab. The new innovation platform enabled data sessions and outbound roaming of test subscribers from Proximus to BICS’ test network environment. The 5G SA Lab’s successful results confirm a network operator’s readiness for an accelerated 5G roll-out.
Note 1. BICS is a leading international communications enabler, one of the key global voice carriers and the leading provider of mobile data services worldwide.
The BICS 5G Lab was announced earlier this year, and provides a test environment for operators and enterprises to test their readiness for next-gen services deployment of 5G Standalone, independently of the 4G core network. It follows BICS’ previous initiatives in promotion of 5G adoption, including the recent addition of borderless 5G connectivity to its SIM for Things solution earlier this year.
The trial successfully enabled a 5G data session for outbound roamers and demonstrated roaming interoperability between two 5G network providers – a critical element for the communications ecosystem to be able to meet the international needs of roaming devices and end users. It also established connectivity between the visited and home network via secured gateways (SEPP), hosted on BICS’ IPX network.
Mikaël Schachne, VP Mobility and IoT, BICS says: “BICS is perfectly positioned at the heart of the communications system to facilitate 5G Standalone readiness, ensuring operators and enterprises are fully prepared for roll-out. The insights BICS provides, harnessed from our unparalleled expertise in carrying over half the world’s data roaming traffic, can help businesses to accelerate their 5G strategies and provide first-class offerings to their customers.”
Geert Standaert, Chief Technology Officer, Proximus says: “5G represents a revolution of mobile communications and will accelerate the advent of the Internet of Things. The conclusion of this trial marks a major advancement in Proximus’ 5G Standalone rollout, which will bring unprecedented advantages to both end users and businesses.”
The scope for 5G SA use cases is expanding exponentially, from smart transport to industry 4.0 and beyond, with the pandemic having accelerated the demand for wireless technologies. As the world’s travel industries and businesses begin to re-open, operators and enterprises are set to experience a sharp increase in demand for international roaming across their 5G networks. This trial is a milestone in BICS’ commitment to enabling the international readiness for 5G adoption necessary to meet and capitalize on this growth opportunity.
Orange has said it is also ready to work with early 5G SA adopters on trials and proofs of concept for 5G roaming. In the absence of any standards or implementation specs, there are many different implementations of 5G SA core network and no standard for 5G SA roaming.
All network operators must sign new 5G bilateral roaming agreements and establish interconnections with peers. This can be bilateral, but, like today, the complicated management and rollout of roaming agreements will be simplified using IPX and roaming hub providers. Signaling interworking will require a SEPP, which ensures end-to-end confidentiality and integrity between source and destination networks. All signaling traffic across operator networks will transit via these security proxies. Authentication between operators’ SEPP is required to prevent unauthorized communication between networks. Operators will benefit from connecting to a 5G-compliant IPX hub as it offers adapted levels of security from all the other operators connected to the hub.