5G is a big leap in wireless communications. Picture a 200x bandwidth, ~ 5x lower latency, and 20x faster data transfer than 4G. Moreover, the Enhanced Mobile Broad Band (eMBB) service of 5G supports 8k video streaming and high-definition audio transmission. Perhaps, the biggest value addition is the ability to drive advanced mobility services for machines. Massive Machine Type Communication (mMTC) provides high-bandwidth wireless connectivity for industrial-grade applications.Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communication (URLLC), eMBB, and mMTC converge in Industry 4.0 through Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). While 5G connects assets, accelerates automation, enhances Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) systems, and boosts sensing and metering devices, it also enables telcos to boost their revenues via IIoT, robotics, immersive technologies, and M2M communication use cases.URLLC is driven by the 5G New Radio (NR), which utilizes higher frequency bands that enables the transmission of a huge amount of data in real-time. Significantly, 5G mobile coverage can be extended to a large number of devices across cities, business districts, and manufacturing hubs. It empowers mobile network operators to expand their service offerings for retail as well as enterprise customers.
NR effect for constituents
For consumers, 5G VR/AR applications enhance online shopping and banking as well as drive immersive experiences at sports events. For enterprises, an ultra-fast mobile infrastructure supports data-intensive systems to deliver personalized experiences using connected devices. Data from an intelligent network supplemented with URLLC coverage can detect leakage and prevent malfunction in underground oil and gas pipelines. 5G demands mature technologies and business models from telcos looking to maximize availability and monetize networks. A transformation of the core network and radio infrastructure is imperative for URLLC – the foundation of 5G. CSPs should implement a digital ecosystem comprising artificial intelligence, machine learning, advanced automation, software-defined networking (SDN), network function virtualization (NFV), edge computing, and cloud platforms to modernize OSS/BSS and radio infrastructure and create an autonomous network.
Cloud-based network infrastructure
Network operators require ubiquitous computational power to manage IoT traffic and process voluminous data at the network and endpoint level. For reliable service and ultra-fast speed, data packets of applications must be transmitted and consumed in milliseconds. Let us take the use case of self-driving vehicles. Vehicle-to-everything communication technology in an autonomous vehicle collects and analyzes real-time data from IoT devices, including telematics, traffic signals, and obstacles along the route. This data is used to assess diverse parameters such as estimated time of arrival and traffic enroute. On-board systems convert data into actionable intelligence and alert the driver to driving conditions. While 5G networks enable autonomous vehicles to respond in real time by processing parameters with minimal delay, advanced automation is applied for real-time management of network bandwidth and resource allocation. Reliable platforms are required to capture, process and store data for IIoT services such as assembly line automation and robotic surgery. A cloud-based radio access network enables network operators to deliver high-speed service and ensure efficient data transmission while rationalizing investment in base stations. Cloud additionally allows scalable networking and enables agile and adaptable architecture for smart management of IoT networks.
Software-driven network services
Software interfaces and protocols can be used to configure a 5G network for URLLC connected devices. SDN decouples the control, data and user planes, and makes it modular and containerized. It enhances the efficacy of IoT networks through better programmability and resource optimization. The distributed and scalable SDN network architecture also offers flexibility to integrate edge computing, NFV and network slicing. NFV allows network services and software functions to be undertaken on virtual resources. It simplifies access to shared physical network resources, streamlines routing of service packets and network traffic flow. Besides enabling seamless ramp up/down of virtual machines for dynamic network demand management NFV configures new network slices for specific services/applications without affecting the existing network components. The software-driven, cloud-native communication systems on SDN ensure high bandwidth and on-demand availability of 5G network resources, uninterrupted service, and superior user experience. 5G additionally enables telcos to transcend connectivity and move up the value chain by reimagining their business models. Telcos should partner with independent systems integrators to establish a digital ecosystem and grow the business.