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5G Architecture 3GPP 

The 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) covers telecommunication technologies that cover RAN (Radio Access Networks), core transport networks, and various service capabilities. 5G technology has broadened the scope of mobile networks to offer a broad range of wireless services delivered to end-users across multiple platforms and multiple-layer networks. The co-existence of human-centric and machine-type communications will define very diverse functional and performance requirements that 5G networks will have to support. Within the 5G System (5GS), End-to-End (E2E) network slicing, Service-based architecture (SBA), Software-defined networking (SDN), Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) are the fundamental pillars to support the heterogenous Key Performance indicators (KPIs) of the new use cases in a cost-efficient way. 5G Reference Network Architecture is non-roaming Architecture specified by 3GPP. 

Network nodes include UE (user equipment), Next-generation Node base station (g NB), and the 5GC (5G core). UE is 5G smartphones or 5G cellular devices that can connect over the 5G RAN (Radio Access Network) to the 5GC and further to the DN like the Internet. gNB is a 5G base station that uses the New Radio technology. It uses SDR (Software-defined Radio) with various MIMO capabilities. 5G base stations could be used for SA (Stand-alone) and NSA (Non-Stand-alone) deployments. The 5G Core network, which has all the advanced functionalities of the core network supports the cloud-native architecture for Authentication, Security, Session management, traffic aggregation, etc. 

Components of 5G Core:

  • UPF (User Plane Function)
  • AMF (Access and Mobility Management Function)
  • SMF (Session Management Function)
  • NSSF (Network Slice Selection Function)
  • NEF (Network Exposure Function)
  • NRF (Network Repository Function)
  • AUSF (Authentication Server Function)
  • PCF (Policy Control Function)
  • UDM (Unified Data Management)
  • DN (Data Network)
  • AF (Application Function)

5g core with cups

Functions of 5G Core


5G core Access and Mobility Management Function receives all the control and session-related information from the user equipment. It is responsible for the handling of connection and mobility-related tasks. It is connected to the SMF with the N11 interface. A mobile network comprises many AMF instances and each AMF is uniquely identified by GUAMI (Globally unique AMF identifier). It implements NAS (Non-Access Stratum) Ciphering and integrity protection algorithms. It is responsible for Lawful intercept, Access Authentication, and Authorization. It also performs Security context management.


It is the fundamental element of the 5G core network architecture which is responsible for interacting with decoupled data plane, creating, updating, and removing PDU (Protocol data units). It manages the session context with the User plane function. The functions performed by SMF include UE IP address allocation and management, termination of interfaces, downlink data notifications, charging data collection, lawful intercept, roaming functionality, etc. 


It is the fundamental component of a 3GPP 5G Core Architecture. It represents the data plane evolution of a control and user plane separation (CUPS). The functions of UPF include QoS handling for the user plane, packet routing, and forwarding, packet inspection, lawful intercept for the user plane, traffic accounting and reporting, etc. 


It is an Authentication Server Function that performs the authentication of the user equipment. It is located in a home network. It makes the decision on UE Authentication for authenticating data and keying material like 5G AKA and EAP-AKA used. It is used to facilitate 5G security purposes.  


It is used by AMF for the selection of Network Slice Instances that will serve a particular device. It selects the Network Slice Instances determining the allowed network slice selection Assistance information (NSSAI). It can retrieve NRF, NSI ID, and target AMFs as a part of the UE registration process and PDU establishment process. 


Network Exposure function facilitates secure, robust, developer-friendly access to network services. This function provides a means to securely expose the services and capabilities which are provided by 3GPP network functions. 


Network Repository function works as a central repository for all the 5G network functions in the operator’s network. NRF allows 5G NF’s to register and discover each other with the help of standard APIs. It maintains the profiles of the available NF instances and their supported services in the 5G core network. Allows NF instances to track the status of other NF instances. 


It supports the unified policy framework that governs the network behavior. It provides policy rules to enforce them. To facilitate this, the subscription information is gathered from the Unified data management function. It provides policy rules for control plane functions, which include network slicing, roaming, and mobility management. 


It is a centralized way to control network usage data. It is cloud-native and designed for 5G technology. The functions of UDM are similar to HSS (Home Subscriber Service). It generates 5G AKA Authentication vectors, user identification handling, this function stores the long-term security credentials used in Authentication for AKA. It stores subscription information. 


It requests dynamic policies and/or charging control. It performs operations like accessing the Network Exposure Function for retrieval of various resources. It interacts with PCF for policy control, application traffic routing, exposing services to end-users, etc.AF exposes the Application layer for interacting with 5G network resources. 


DN is a data network that is related to the 3GPP 5G Architecture. It could be operator services, internet access, or other services.

5G Interfaces

5G Interfaces

NG1: A reference point between the UE and the Access and Mobility Management Function (AMF).

NG2: A reference point between the gNB and the Access and Mobility Management Function (AMF). 

NG3: A reference point between the gNB and the User Plane Function (UPF). 

NG4: A reference point between the Session management function (SMF) and the User plane function (UPF).

NG5: A reference point between the Policy control function (PCF) and an application function (AF).

NG6: A reference point between the User Plane Function (UPF) and a Data Network (DN).

NG7: A reference point between the Session Management Function (SMF) and the Policy control function (PCF). 

NG8: A reference point between the Unified Data Management (UDM) and Access and Mobility management function (AMF).

NG9: A reference point between two Core User Plane Functions (UPFs).

NG10: A reference point between the Unified Data Management (UDM) and Session management function (SMF). 

NG11: A reference point between the Access and Mobility Management Function (AMF) and Session management function (SMF). 

NG12: A reference point between the Access and Mobility Management Function (AMF) and Authentication Server Function (AUSF).

NG13: A reference point between the UDM (Unified Data Management) and Authentication Server Function (AUSF).

NG14: A reference point between two Access and Mobility Management functions. 

NG15: A reference point between the PCF (Policy control function) and the AMF (Access and Mobility Management Function ) in case of non-roaming scenario, V-PCF, and AMF in case of roaming scenario. 

The Reference point representation of Architecture is the good old way of representing Architecture and it is known from the previous generations.