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Virtual Open Systems Scientific Publications

Compute and Network Virtualization at the Edge for 5G Smart Cities Neutral Host Infrastructures

Compute and network virtualization at the edge for 5G smart cities neutral host infrastructures


IEEE 5G World Forum (5GWF 2019), Dresden, Germany.

Edge virtualization at lamppost smart cities, IEEE 5G World Forum - 5GWF 2019

Contributed slides presentation

The slides presented at this conference are made publicly available.


Virtualization, edge computing, 5G smart cities, neutral host, security virtualization.


Michele Paolino + , Gino Carrozzo ++ , August Betzler x , Carlos Colman-Meixner xx , Hamzeh Khalili x ,Shuaib Siddiqui x , Teodora Sechkova + , and Dimitra Simeonidou xx. > +Virtual Open Systems, Grenoble, France; ++ Nextworks, Pisa, Italy; xx University of Bristol, Bristol, UK; x i2CAT Foundation, Barcelona, Spain.


This work was partly funded by the European Commission under the European Union's Horizon 2020 program – grant agreement number 761508 (5GCity project). The paper solely reflects only the views of the authors. The Commission is not responsible for the contents of this paper or any use made thereof.


Smart cities are one of the most important 5G verticals due to their impacts on people’s life. The neutral host model is key for this vertical, specially to promote the infrastructure sharing between operators for a pervasive infrastructure deployment. However, it demands enhancements in today’s virtualization technologies to support geographically scattered and resource constrained computing and networking elements (i.e., core data centers, edge computing point of presences, the far-edge servers at lampposts).

This paper presents the virtualization enhancements developed within the H2020 5GCity project to support the neutral host model for smart city deployments. The envisioned virtualization technology demands high levels of security and performance with a unified view of sliceable and heterogeneous devices and radio technologies (e.g., LTE, 5G, and Wi-Fi). In our solution, security are enhanced by deploying a robust compute node authentication, monitoring, and geo-tagging. Further, wireless virtualization is provided via an innovative multiple RAN controller approach for the management and control of heterogeneous radio resources. In order to be validated, our proposed virtualization approach is being deployed and demonstrated in the cities of Bristol, Barcelona, and Lucca.


The smart city paradigm can provide multiple valuable services to citizens with strict performance, security, and sustainability requirements to the urban infrastructure and local business. The 5G infrastructure promises high bandwidth, low latency, and resiliency at the cost of higher density in network access points (e.g., cells) deployments. In urban contexts, 5G will require multiple macro-cells coupled with an even more pervasive deployment of small cells connected to multiple edge Point of Presences (PoPs) (e.g., multi-access edge (MEC) computing nodes).

Various techno-economic analyses forecast prohibitive costs for pervasive 5G deployments by mobile operators in case they need to build their own private infrastructure. In this market scenario, municipalities and local governments who quite often own various city assets in streets and districts can take a key role of neutral hosts and offer infrastructure as a service to Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO) and verticals to let them extend their services over an isolated multi-tenant virtualized infrastructures. The neutral host model provides a framework for the infrastructure owner to manage its compute and networking resources, so it can be sliced according to the needs of verticals that are interested in providing specific services for their end users. However, security enhancements and new virtualization schemes are necessary for the neutral host model to deal with heterogeneity and highly distributed 5G infrastructure of smart cities verticals. Hence, in this work we introduce the smart cities specific virtualization enhancements developed by the H2020 5GCity project, with particular focus on the extension in security and enhancements in wireless and PoP virtualization.

This paper is organized as follows: Section II describes the objectives and components of the project architecture. Section III details the different virtualization enhancements mentioned above, while Section IV provide an overview of the related work. Finally, Section V shows future work and concludes the paper.

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