What is Ericsson Local Packet Gateway offering, and how does it work?
Before we dive into the opportunities, let’s first discuss the basics of Ericsson’s new product. 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 this 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 leverage 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 prospective clients’ worries and pain points. This is how use cases can take shape.
In the press release shared by Ericsson Monica Zethzon, Head of Solution Area Packet Core, says: “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. Caroline Chappell, Research Director at Analysys Mason, 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 Jerry O’Leary, Head of User Plane for 5G Core, Ericsson
A user plane, sometimes known as a 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 for 5G Core, Ericsson, took the time to answer all our questions.
Christopher Isak (CI): Hi Jerry, and thanks so much for the opportunity. What is Ericsson launching that is new in the edge computing space, and what issues will it solve?
Jerry O’ Leary (JO’L): Thanks, Chris. We are excited that Ericsson’s new product launch, the Ericsson Local Packet Gateway – sometimes referred to as LPG – will help our customers, the communication service providers, unlock new 5G edge use cases. What’s new is that this is a pre-integrated solution, meaning 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 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 the Ericsson Packet Core Gateway. This solution includes hardware, Container-as-a-Service (CaaS) and operating system (OS), software 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 has been possible but complicated, the release of this pragmatic product means CSPs can now start addressing edge use cases.
CI: What kind of edge computing use cases will this support?
JO’L: The Local Packet Gateway enables many new use cases such as local replay and analytics at 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 that can be offered by CSPs using LPG as a cost-efficient alternative to other private network solutions. For example, for small and medium enterprises, the LPG provides connectivity and dedicates on premises bandwidth, slicing, routing to local applications and advanced security services and the use cases will evolve with standards and devices ecosystem.
Furthermore, there is a set of new evolving technologies, namely extended reality (XR), artificial intelligence (AI) and the decentralized Internet, which will motivate new use cases requiring 5G edge computing that could be enabled by LPG. Lately, we’ve been hearing a lot about the metaverse, but there are others such as blockchain/crypto native banking and finance. The 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 is reduced with a full-stack appliance that integrates seamlessly with the Ericsson dual-mode 5G Core and OSS systems, two, Total cost of ownership (TCO), the approach of LPG greatly reduces fixed and lifecycle costs to enable new use cases, 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’m still stuck on PC gaming. However, I do not doubt that augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (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 require 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.
As I mentioned above, sometimes with new technology and novel solutions, it’s not directly clear what kind of problems this could solve. For instance, people who are working in factories might have a hard time imagining, just based on the 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’re 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.