5GUK Exchange

Increased Network Programmability / Orchestration of Services / Virtualisation of Network Infrastructures / Software Defined Networks

Layered Realities Weekend - A 5G Showcase

Over the weekend of 17th - 18th March 2018, the University of Bristol's Smart Internet Lab hosted the world's first 5G public showcase in Millennium Square, Bristol. Demonstrations, talks and artistic experimentation combined in an exciting blend of technology and expression. This event ran in conjunction with Watershed & We The Curious.

Photo Credit: Kaleider's - 'From The Light Of Fire, Our Dancing Shadows'

5G Exchange (5GEx) solution will play a significant role in future telecommunication solutions, enabling cities and municipal areas to create rapid services for their community. The standardisation of virtual solutions will also allow an exchange of services, replacing the old with the new and expanding existing amenities. 


The 5GUK Exchange team at the Layered Realities Event in March 2018

Smart Internet Lab at the University of Bristol is the lead architect of the 5G Exchange solution. We are bringing together three test network islands and possibly more in the future. These will represent the next generation of telecommunication infrastructure.

We are also conducting academically renowned and industrially impactive research in Optical Networks, Photonics and Wireless Communications.  The Lab is delivering and operating one of the three 5G UK test networks in collaboration with the University of Surrey and Kings College London.‌

Technical Description

As part of the UK’s ambition to pioneer 5G technologies and applications on the world stage, the 5GUK project is deploying its multi-site networking infrastructure called the 5G Hub. This hub uses state-of-the-art networking software and hardware components including new 5G core network software technologies, such as Network Function Virtualisation (NFV), and Software Defined Networking (SDN). This technology is taking advantage of recent advancements in virtualisation infrastructures and connectivity solutions that enable high data rates, increased network programmability, flexibility in control and auto-scaling. The 5G Exchange (5GEx) is the solution architecture for the UK’s 5G Hub lead by the University of Bristol, which interconnects virtualised testbed islands. The 5GEx provides an network experimenter or entrepreneur with the capability to initiate, monitor, and terminate end-to-end (E2E) network services. This is a scalable and sustainable architecture that interconnects testbed using open source software.

The 5GUKEX holds information about the capabilities of the attached Islands so an experimenter can combine services from different testbeds to perform end-to-end experiments. The 5GUK Exchange connects with the Island orchestrators and acts as a proxy to the Islands, when the experimenter requests testbed deployments that are part of different Islands. The 5GUK Exchange manages the lifecycle of the experiments (based on the requested experiments) by receiving information from the Island orchestrators and notifying the experimenters appropriately. To enable the testbed cross-connections, the 5GUKEX has a physical interconnection infrastructure, to which all the Islands physically connect via their aggregation points. The virtual infrastructure and testbed interconnections that implement the experimental user requests are also managed by 5GUKEX. This architecture is also designed to provide interoperability across the Islands and thus facilitates the addition of new islands.

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