For this post, I got together with Maria Cuevas, head of mobile core networks research at BT, to look ahead to our joint MWC demo.

"MWC 2018 Threatens to Be 5G New Radio Bore," wrote Light Reading's news editor, Morris Lore, fearing that the non-radio side of the 5G overhaul wouldn't get much of a look in at the year's biggest mobile event.

Well, it doesn't feel like that from where we are. For our team heading out to Barcelona, things are looking exciting - frantic even - as we prepare our demonstration of network slicing and assurance for 5G. Marking the starting point of a research and collaboration exercise between ADVA and BT, we'll be showcasing multi-layer and multi-domain network slicing capabilities enabled by SDN and NFV tools, with one of the principal slices implemented as a vRAN enabled by Mavenir.

As many have said, 5G is about much more than the next "G" in the mobile network. That's why the business case is so challenging. It's about delivering multiple use cases (or revenue streams from an MNO point of view), such as low latency and mobile broadband, on a single network. That's why network slicing is so important; it allows you to reserve resources in the network for those specific use cases that need it, and to free them up for other sevices when the resources are no longer required. This demands dynamic hosting of functions at different locations, including the cell edge and intermediate aggregation layer, as well as the ability to steer traffic around the network, which is bringing NFV and SDN into the mobile network.

Network slicing diagram

Transport pipes don't have endless capacity and so flexibility in the way bandwidth is provisioned is becoming more and more vital. Through this, speed, simplicity and efficiency can be optimized to support similar SLA metrics as in the RAN right across the network.

Of course, the main technology enabler here is software innovation. That's what makes these new opportunities possible. Our demonstration shows the power of NFV and SDN to create and control a customizable, dynamic architecture that maximizes the potential of every element.

Allocating virtual resources to specific customers will be crucial to the future of the wholesale market. Here, network slicing provides lucrative opportunities not only for transport but also for edge cloud computing - a completely new area for wholesale but one that will prove to be a very promising avenue for business expansion.

Of course, a solution is only as good or as agile as its weakest link. That's why true end-to-end network slicing is required. In our demo, we're not only partitioning the radio access network (RAN) and mobile core network but also creating virtual networks across transport and infrastructure resources.

So do we think MWC 2018 will be a 5G New Radio Bore? Not a chance! This is the year in which the transport components of the mobile industry can shine. In future, we'll say that we made 5G happen, since without the network, the connectivity layer, the radios are no use, and 5G will underwhelm us all.

Before heading off to make final preparations, we'd like to say that support from our partners, Lumina, 6Wind, Athonet, Mavenir, and Accelleran, as well as the ADVA/Ensemble and BT teams has been fantastic.

We look forward to hosting many of you at the ADVA booth where the demonstration can be seen. Be sure to visit us at Stand 7H31.