5G World: At TechXLR8 London
5G: Still Picking a Winning Team
For those of you not familiar with TechXLR8, the event organisers describe it as “A festival of technology taking you on a journey between networks, tech and consumer services”. Techxlr8’s ambitious plan is to bring together 8 disparate, but somehow interlinked, tech showcases; 5G world, IoT World Europe, Cloud & DevOps World, Apps World Evolution, VR&AR World, AI & Machine Learning World, Connected Cars & Autonomous Vehicles Europe and project Kairos.
With the 5G standards still being developed in 3GPP throughout the rest of 2017, the clear message from the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) at 5G world is that the 10 year rule for each mobile generation will continue to be maintained and 5G rollout will not occur until after 2020.
It is my belief that the 5G is the most complex and far reaching telecoms evolution so far envisaged. Where 4G was introduced to provide an efficient platform for mobile data, 5G is about providing a platform for mobile services. However, the services world is undergoing massive churn, we see a proliferation of IoT solutions each with totally different needs in terms of capacity, latency, lifetime time and security. We see cloud native applications and DevOps producing applications for everything with video becoming pervasive across the majority of these applications. And we are continue to need an always-up network to support new mission critical services.
These new services will change the way telecoms fits in our lives and maybe even how we live our lives. With telecoms services are being produced for things so far out, that just a few years ago they were viewed as pure sci-fi. Some examples being: connected cars, autonomous cars, virtual reality, augmented reality, remote heath and the list goes on.
One thing is very clear with 5G, the simple world of mobile bandwidth and connectivity is over, with the network changing beyond all recognition. The radio access network will increase in capacity by two orders of magnitude, reduce latency by an order of magnitude and support massive densification of access points.
The whole network will become cloud-based and virtualized. Heavy duty, centralised, hardware functionality like the packet core functionality is being broken into virtual network functions (VNFs) located on virtual machines when and where it is needed. At the same time, software defined networking (SDN) will be used to provide connectivity and capacity when and where it is needed. With this flexibility it is expected that the network will start to become autonomous with self-configuration, self-healing, self-optimization and self-protection.
So why is already lots of buzz and trials around 5G today?
If 5G is to deliver on its potential when it is eventually deployed, service providers and vendors alike need to start to understanding the impact of these fundamental changes today.
However like TechXLR8 itself, 5G is extremely complex has a huge number of stakeholders each of which believe they own parts of the story and at the same time are reliant on its success. So the ecosystems being tested must involve all of these stakeholders; from applications and DevOps through to the radio access network and the transmission network.
Given this need, TechXLR8 is a vision of the telecoms network future. With the services and development environments becoming fundamental components of the story.
What does this mean for today’s networks?
Some of the new services like IoT for smart homes, virtual reality gaming, and augmented reality are already available, and consumers already seduced by their value want them today.
This places immense pressure on current 4G networks, which were designed for extensive bandwidth and coverage. However, these new services are not just about bandwidth. New services will have additional requirements like security and reliable connectivity, low-latency, edge computing and so on.
Mobile Network Operators need to evolve their existing 4G network transmission network so that it is able to support the start of the new “5G service” rollout on today’s 4G radio network. To do this, the transmission network will need to support massive increase in RAN capacity and densification, but also the ability to place NFVi closer to the edge to reduce latency and provided the opportunity for edge computing.