By Chioma Gabriel
The consensus among speakers at the Global 5G Test Summit during Mobile World Congress was that it is important to give other industries a taste of what’s coming with 5G so they can explore new usage models and applications.
Participants said early testing gives verticals the chance to understand the actual requirements of various applications.
Testing, of course, is needed to ensure full interoperability across the network as well as end-user devices. In addition to debugging issues on the technology side, it enables stakeholders to start working with governments on future regulations.
Despite approval of 5G standards not expected to be completed until 2020, 25 mobile operators have already announced they are lab testing 5G, demonstrating the wide support for the technology at this early stage.
The event highlighted global operators’ development strategies and plans on 5G testing and trials.
Wang Xiaoyun , GM of China Mobile’s department of technology and vice-chair of the IMT2020 Promotion Group, said besides developing a united 5G standard and pushing trials to validate the technologies, an important task is to establish the overall industry ecosystem.
She noted this is critical for bringing in vertical partners across many industries. The operator already has 98 partners in its 5G Innovation Centre.
China Mobile aims to launch phase two product validation trials in 2018 and to have a commercial launch in 2020, she said.
Also at the event, Chinese technology giant, Huawei, released the industry’s first 5G network slicing router at MWC 2017 in Barcelona, Spain.
The 5G network slicing router provides 50GE base station access and seamless compatibility with 100GE, and achieves physical isolation of port channels based on innovative Flexible Ethernet technology to provide differentiated SLA guarantee.
At a media conference at the conference, the company stated that with the arrival of 5G, human-to-human conducing are becoming human-to-machine or machine-to-machine connections.
“In light of these changes, 3GPP defined three key scenarios for 5G applications: eMBB, mMTC, and uRLLC. eMBB is related to user experience while mMTC and uRLLC are to meet machine-to-machine interconnection requirements.
“This requires that the bearer network infrastructure provide E2E slicing capabilities to ensure differentiated SLA guarantee”, the technology firm said.
Speakers at the conference said Huawei’s network slicing router implements resource slicing from the control, protocol, and forwarding dimensions while a full series of network slicing routers can generate E2E network slicing for specific 5G scenarios.
“Each network slice is a self-sufficient logical network and each service can have an independent network slice. For example, specialized video, IoT, or key communications network slices. Different service slices have their own O&M views and can independently implement resource scheduling and management. This realizes on-demand network SLA guarantee, on-demand bandwidth adjustment, and rapid fault locating for each scenario, meeting the differentiated SLA service bearer requirements of 5G scenarios”, the company explained.
President of Huawei’s Router and Carrier Ethernet Product Line,Gai Gang, explained that Network slicing is the key technology that effectively enables diversified network features for different industries in the 5G era adding that the launch of the 5G network slicing router will effectively promote the development of 5G services and help operators quickly enter more vertical industries.
He observed that Huawei is committed to providing high-quality 5G bearer solutions and actively promoting technical advances in Flexible Ethernet and network slicing.
Gordon Mansfield, VP of RAN and device design at AT&T, said the reason for early trials is to get feedback from users, both consumer and business, to validate the technology in various applications.
Magnus Ewerbring, Ericsson’s CTO for APAC, agreed, saying it wants to be educated about their industries to help them transform their businesses. He noted the industry “needs to keep up with the global momentum on 5G.”
Luke Ibbetson, director of Vodafone Group R&D, said the industry is starting to see a clear roadmap, which is encouraging. “We have to keep ourselves aligned to build scale as rapidly as possible, and resist any attempt at fragmentation, which will slow us down from reaching our goals.”
Regarding the actual deployment, Takehiro Nakamura (pictured, left), VP and GM of NTT Docomo’s 5G Lab, said it is discussing how to best deploy 5G, as it would be difficult to do a nationwide rollout in 2020. “We will deploy in areas where high performance is required, and of course around the Olympic facilities in 2020.”
It will gradually expand coverage after 2020, depending on the availability of handsets and access to spectrum bands. The operator will focus on enhanced mobile broadband in the first phase as its current LTE network is used for IoT services, and expects LTE-Advanced to be able to support massive machine-type communication services in the beginning.