While 4G systems have been designed to provide 'one size fits all' type of solutions for broadband data services, 5G systems are expected to be able to simultaneously support a wide range of application scenarios and business models, resulting from the anticipated pervasive adoption of 5G technologies in different vertical markets. The diverse requirements, network functionalities, performance and business models will be build on the so-called network slicing, a concept that emerges as a key pilar for building the 5G ecosystem. Network slicing consists in exposing a common network infrastructure in the form of different customised logical networks, referred to as network slices. Each network slice can be adapted to support a specific application and/or be used to provide service to specific group of terminals/users associated to an organisation, referred to as tenant. Network slicing support in 5G is fueled by Network Function Virtualization (NFV) and Software Defined Networking (SDN) to sustain service and network resources programmability. NFV/SDN bring the capability to add new functionalities, extend, upgrade or evolve existing functionalities and customise the network on a per-tenant basis, both for the core and the radio access network parts. Regarding the radio access network, the support of network slicing and customisation is tightly related to the realisation of Radio Resource Management (RRM) and Self-Organizing Network (SON) functions. RRM introduces a set of mechanisms to dynamically manage the radio resources, while SON refers to a set of functionalities targeting the automatisation in the management of the mobile network, reducing or removing the need for manual adjustments. The design and implementation of RRM/SON solutions for 5G faces radical changes with respect to the status quo in 3G/4G, since the sharing of the radio interface among multiple tenants requires advanced solutions in order to achieve a balanced and efficient exploitation of the radio resources. The opportunity arises to reconsider the actual methodologies for RAN planning and optimisation, introducing cognitive capabilities spanning through knowledge and intelligence, increasing the degree of automatisation in processess, so that the netwok self-adapts to provide a personalised user experience. In this framework, SONAR 5G project intends to contribute to the advance and materialisation of the software-defined RAN concept through proposing, developing and validating solutions for the realisation of a centralised and programable control plane as well as management solutions for the planning, operation and optimisation of multi-tenant 5G radio access networks based on automatisation and the introduction of artificial intelligence capabilities.
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