One of the main differences between 5G and the previous generations of cellular networks (3G and LTE/4G) lies in the strong focus on machine-type communication enabling the Internet of Things (IoT). 5G will use spectrum that covers the existing LTE frequency range (600 MHz to 6 GHz) combined with the new millimetre wave bands (24-86 GHz) to encompass key features such as low latency, high throughput, high mobility and high connection density. The capabilities of 5G thus exted well beyond mobile broadband with ever-increasing data rates.
5G Action Plan
In September 2016, the European Commission launched its “5G Action Plan” to boost investments and rollout efforts for 5G infrastructure and services by 2020, thanks to the creation of a Digital Single Market. This plan sets a clear roadmap for public and private 5G investments in the EU. The Commission has proposed the following measures to achieve the plan’s objectives:
- Harmonise national priorities and timetables for coordinated deployment across all EU member countries, aiming for early deployments by 2018
- Reserve spectrum bands for 5G immediately, without waiting for WRC’19
- Promote rapid and early deployment in large urban centres and along major transport routes
- Promote trials by multiple pan-European stakeholders to galvanise the transition from technological innovation to the mass market
- Facilitate the implementation of private investments in 5G innovation
- Federate the core players, to work together on promoting global standards
3GPP’s 5G New Radio
In December 2017, the first set of specifications defined 5G New Radio (NR) in Non-Standalone operation (NSA), enabling 5G NR deployments using existing 4G systems.
The specifications of 5G NR in Standalone operation were approved in June 2018, and also provide a complete set of specifications for the 5G Core Network that goes beyond Non-Standalone. The ‘full’ 5G System includes:
- eMBB (enhanced Mobile Broadband)
- URLLC (Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communications)
- mMTC (massive Machine Type Communications)
he ITU’s Telecommunication Standardisation Sector (ITU-T) Study Groups develop international standards known as ITU-T Recommendations, which act as defining elements in the global infrastructure of information and communication technologies (ICT).
The latest ITU standards include:
- ITU Y.3101 “Requirements of the IMT-2020 network” describes the features of 5G networks necessary to ensure efficient 5G deployment and high network flexibility.
- ITU Y.3150 “High-level technical characteristics of network softwarisation for IMT-2020” describes the value of slicing in both horizontal and vertical, application-specific environments.
- ITU Y.3130 “Requirements of IMT-2020 fixed-mobile convergence” calls for unified user identity, unified charging, service continuity, guaranteed support for high quality of service, control plane convergence and smart management of user data.
The 5G wireline standards that the study group 13 (SG13) developed and approved in 2017 include:
- ITU Y.3071 “Data Aware Networking (Information Centric Networking) – Requirements and Capabilities” will support ultra-low latency 5G communications by enabling proactive in-network data caching and limiting redundant traffic in core networks.
- ITU Y.3100 “Terms and definitions for IMT-2020 network” provides a foundational set of terminology to be applied universally across 5G-related standardisation work.
- ITU Y.3111 “IMT-2020 network management and orchestration framework” establishes a framework and related principles for the design of 5G networks.
- ITU Y.3310 “IMT-2020 network management and orchestration requirements” describes the capabilities required to support emerging 5G services and applications.
- Supplement 44 to the ITU Y.3100 series “Standardisation and open source activities related to network softwarisation of IMT-2020” summarises open-source and standardisation initiatives relevant to ITU’s development of standards for network softwarisation.
The European Commission has expressed its objectives as part of the H2020 initiative for the development and modernisation of European cities, which includes the 5G Public-Private Partnership (5G-PPP), a cooperative initiative between private and public institutions for test beds and experimental applications for 5G in Europe.
The development of 5G in Europe is making progress thanks to a joint strategy between industry players, academic research centres and the European Commission. The strategy relies on the development of specific projects addressing 5G vertical pilots and 5G platforms, such as 5G Pan-EU events and the 5G Trials Cities programme. The 5G Pan-EU roadmap leverages cooperation between ecosystem partners in different European countries, and so enabling interoperability. The 5G Pan-European Trials Roadmap covers a broader scope than the 5G Action Plan (5GAP) and the 5G Infrastructure PPP Phase 3.
The Roadmap version 3.0, released by 5G-PPP in May 2018, is coordinated by the 5G Infrastructure Association (5G-IA), expanding on the work initiated by private-sector parties and the European Commission (EC) as part of the 5G Manifesto and the 5G Action Plan (5GAP).
The Roadmap’s main objectives are to:
- Support Europe’s global leadership in 5G technology, network deployment and creating profitable businesses.
- Validate 5G’s benefits to vertical sectors, including the public sector, businesses and consumers.
- Generate a clear path to successful and timely 5G deployment in Europe.
The 5G Infrastructure PPP Phase 2 projects (over 2017-2019) actively contribute to the prototyping, experimentation and trialling of 5G technologies and components for specific use cases, including vertical uses cases developed with vertical stakeholders. Further momentum will be gained through PPP Phase 3 projects (over 2018-2020) with a set of three to four projects addressing end-to-end test facilities and platforms, two to four projects addressing vertical pilots for connected mobility, and six to nine projects addressing vertical pilots.
Most of the Roadmap’s implementation will be covered on a private basis, with part of this implementation supported by the European Commission (EC) through the 5GAP, EC 5G Infrastructure PPP Phase 3, EC 5G Investment Fund and by Member States through specific national programmes. The bulk of 5G trials and pilots will be achieved through private trials (commercial and pre-commercial) between network operators and manufacturers/vendors, and will gradually involve vertical stakeholders.
Amongst 5G Infrastructure PPP Phase 3 projects, a domain-specific programme called “ESA Satellite for 5G Initiative” was recently announced. The project incorporates the space sector in the 5G Pan-EU trials to bring together relevant stakeholders to accelerate satellite’s integration into 5G. Phase 3 projects will target large-scale trials and pilots, including complete end-to-end 5G systems, demonstrating 5G KPIs and key features (e.g. end-to-end network slicing, service-based architecture, diverse access technologies integration…) and proving 5G technology’s ability to address and integrate the requirements of a multitude of vertical industries.