Showing posts with label Private Networks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Private Networks. Show all posts

Sunday, 21 March 2021

The Status of 5G Standalone (5G SA) Networks - March 2021


I wonder if you have seen as many adverts talking about the 5G revolution as I have. In fact I have collected many of them here. The problem is that most of these promised 5G awesomeness can only be delivered when 5G Standalone networks are launched. 

Before going further, if you don't know what 5G standalone (SA) and non-standalone (NSA) networks are, then you may want to check one of my tutorials/video. For beginners here and slightly advanced version here. If you just want to learn about the 5G core, tutorial here.

I believe that the 5G Non-standalone networks are a hack that were designed mainly to show just the 5G icon and in some cases it also provided enhanced speeds. Some operators have realised this and are thinking about the 5G NSA sunset. There are some potential issues with 5G SA speeds that need sorting out though.

GSA recently held a webinar looking at the status of 5G Standalone networks. The video of the webinar is embedded at the end of the post. The webinar summarised the stats as following:

  • By mid-March 2021, 428 operators in 132 countries/territories were investing in 5G
  • 176 operators in 76 countries/territories had announced they had deployed 3GPP compliant 5G technology in their live networks
  • Of those, a total of 153 operators in 64 countries/territories had launched one or more 3GPP-compliant 5G services
    • 145 operators in 60 countries/territories had launched 3GPP-compliant 5G mobile services
    • 51 operators in 29 countries/territories had launched 3GPP-compliant 5G FWA or home broadband services
  • For comparison, there are 807 public LTE networks worldwide
  • GSA has identified 68 operators in 38 countries/territories that are investing in 5G standalone for public mobile networks
  • Of those, a total of 7 operators in 5 countries/territories had launched 5G SA networks
    • Operators in China have deployed/upgraded hundreds of thousands of base stations 
    • T-Mobile has a nationwide network
    • Plus China Mobile HK, Rain (South Africa) and DirecTV (Colombia)
  • Also ITC KSA (soft launch), STC KSA deployed, Telstra 5G core deployed, plus various contracts for 5G core systems

Private Networks, Non-public networks (NPN) and Industrial 5G Networks are also expected to make use of standalone 5G networks. As 5G networks get virtualized and open, we will see a lot more of these.

The webinar also highlighted the progress of 5G devices:

  • There has been rapid growth in the numbers and types of 5G devices being announced and launched
  • As of end February:
    • 628 5G devices announced
    • 404 commercially available (up from 303 at the end of November)
    • 104 vendors
    • 21 announced form factors
    • Majority are phones (306 announced, 274 commercial)
  • 5G SA devices are also appearing
    • 298 devices announced with 5G SA support
    • 204 commercial devices state support for 5G SA
      • Software upgrades likely to be required
    • Steadily climbing up as % of all 5G devices
      • Now >47% of announced
      • >50% of commercial

Here is the webinar:

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Friday, 5 March 2021

How to Identify Network Slices in NG RAN

In my last post I described how NG RAN resources can be divided into network slices. 

Now I would like to show how these network slices and the traffic they carry can be identified. 

The key to this is a parameter from the NG Application Protocol (NGAP) called the Single Network Slice Selection Assistance Information (S-NSSAI). When configuring virtual network functions in NG RAN there are lists of S-NSSAI exchanged, e.g. between gNB-CU CP and AMF during NGAP Setup procedure, to negotiate which network slices have to be supported in general. 

When it comes to connection establishment starting with NGAP Initial Context Setup for each PDU session that is established its individual S-NSSAI is signaled. 

The S-NSSAI - as show in the figure below - consists of two parameters, the Slice/Service Type (SST - 8 bit) and the optional Slice Differentiator (SD - 24 bit). The exact format and numbering ranges are defined in 3GPP 23.003.

3GPP 23.501 defines a set of default values for SST as listed in the following table:

Slice/Service type

SST value

Characteristics

eMBB

 

1

Slice suitable for the handling of 5G enhanced Mobile Broadband.

URLLC

2

Slice suitable for the handling of ultra- reliable low latency communications.

MIoT

3

Slice suitable for the handling of massive IoT.

V2X

4

Slice suitable for the handling of V2X services.

So when looking back at the figure it emerges that for each subscriber represented by an IMSI the SST allows to identify which services are running. 

On the other hand allows to see if in which virtual network the subscriber is active. In my example I have defined that the resources are shared among a Public MNO that I consider the owner of the network hardware and two different private (campus) networks. While IMSI 1 and IMSI 2 are not allowed to use any other network slice the IMSI 3 is allowed to "roam" betweent the public slice and the two private network slices. This explains why a slice-specific authentication functionality as defined in Rel. 16 is necessary. 

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Monday, 21 December 2020

Challenges and Future Perspectives of Industrial 5G

Andreas Mueller, Head of communication and network technology at Bosch Corporate Research and Chair of 5G ACIA recently spoke at 'What Next for Wireless Infrastructure Summit' by TelecomTV about Industrial 5G. The following is paraphrased from his presentation 'Industrial 5G: Remaining challenges and future perspectives' which is embedded below: 

5G has the potential to become the central nervous system of the factory of the future, enabling unprecedented levels of flexibility, efficiency, productivity and also ease of use.  At the same time it's also a very special application domain so in many cases there are very demanding QoS requirements. 

Industrial applications have multi-faceted requirements where one case may require very low latencies and high reliabilities for instance, while for others we may need very high data rates (for example HD cameras). There is no single use case with a single set of requirements but many different use cases with very diverse requirements which also have to be supported in many cases at the very same time. 

As we need only a local network with local connectivity, this performance is required only in a very controlled environment; inside a factory, inside a plant. This allows for specific optimizations and makes certain things easier but we also always have brownfields deployments in many cases that means we have to live what we have in place today so that's typically wired communication in some cases it's wi-fi and similar wireless solutions and we have to be able to smoothly integrate a 5G network into this existing infrastructure

The developments towards Industrial 5G started about three years ago i would say and in the meantime it really has become a hot topic everybody is talking about industrial 5G. It has become a focused topic in standardization in 3GPP and some key capabilities already have been standardized which have been briefly outlined in the presentation. 

Good progress has also been made in the ecosystem development so we've established the 5G Alliance for Connected Industries and Automation two and a half years ago which serves as a global forum for bringing all relevant stakeholders together and for driving industrial 5G and we have 76 members today which includes major players from the telco industry but also from the industrial domain and also of course some universities and so on. We have seen the advent of non-public networks (NPN) so for the first time it will be possible for a manufacturers to deploy and operate such non-public networks inside a factory which are to some extent decoupled from the public networks.

If we look at the standardization timeline this is what you get. The first version of 5G release 15 of 3GPP was approved mid last year and it still had a very strong focus on consumer application and enhanced mobile broadband. If you buy 5G today, this is what you get then. Release-16 has for the first time had a very strong focus on industrial applications this has been approved in June this year and it includes features like ultra reliable low latency communication, non-public networks, time-sensitive communication. It means support for time-sensitive networking 5G and also native layer 2 transport so that we don't necessarily need internet protocol but we can directly transmit ethernet frames over a 5G network which again is very important especially for the industrial domain.

Release 17 is currently underway and it will come along with several enhancements of these features. It also has a stronger focus on positioning which is again very important in manufacturing because knowing where things are is a very valuable information and it will be in this new transmission mode called NR RedCap which is somewhere somewhere in between this high-end mobile broadband mode and also this low-end a massive machine type communication and this might be especially suitable for industrial sensors for example and then of course the journey will continue with Release 18 which is still being defined but with a high probability i would say it will more focus on massive iot applications that means tiny little sensors for example which have to be connected using very low energy and low costs and not just the natural next step.

So many things have been done already towards supporting these industrial applications but if you look at factories today there are only very few of them which already make use of 5g and that's because there are still some challenges to be overcome some of them are listed here first of all having the features in the standard is nice but they also have to be implemented in the chipsets and infrastructure components and that still say test takes some time especially if we consider that really 16 is the first release which really has many of the features that make a difference to the industrial domain

Here is a list of the features that can be prioritised for future 5G releases or even for 6G. As Release-17 has just been delayed slightly, quite possible that some of the features expected in 5G may get pushed on to Beyond 5G and even 6G.

Here is the embedded talk

An interview by Dr. Andreas Müller regarding Bosch 5G activities is available here (in German)

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Sunday, 1 March 2020

5G Private and Non-Public Network (NPN)


Private Networks have been around for a while and really took off after 4G was launched. This is due to the fact that the architecture was simplified due to the removal of CS core and also the advancements in silicon, storage, computation, etc. allowed creation of smaller and more efficient equipment that simplified private networks.

While private networks imply an isolated network for selected devices that are allowed to connect on to the network, Non-Public Networks are much broader in scope. Chief among them is the ability of certain devices to be capable of working on Private as well as Public Network or roaming between them.

I recently ran a workshop on 'Introduction to Private 4G & 5G Networks' with a well known Industry analyst Dean Bubley. One of the sections looked at the Network Architecture based on the 3GPP standards. This tutorial is a part of that particular section. Slides and video embedded below. There are also some interesting videos on YouTube that show how and why Private Networks are needed and some use cases. The playlist is embedded in the end.






Playlist of Private Networks Use Cases.



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Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Private 4G / 5G Cellular Networks and Bring Your Own Spectrum


With 4G maturing, private cellular networks are finally getting the attention that they deserve and has been promised for quite a while. In a Industry Analyst event, Nokia announced that they are running 120+ private networks including transportation, Energy, Public sector, Smart cities, manufacturing and logistics, etc. (tweet below). The Enterprise Business division is now accounting for 5% of the revenue.
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief at Light Reading, in an opinion on Telecoms.com pointed out:

One of the more immediate revenue stream opportunities right now is wireless private networks, and the good news is that this opportunity doesn’t require 5G. Instead, the potential looks set to be enhanced by the availability of a full set of 5G standards (including the yet-to-be concluded core network specs) and the maturity of associated technology.

In the meantime, 4G/LTE has already been the cellular foundation for an increasingly thriving wireless private networks sector that, according to ABI Research, will be worth $16.3 billion by 2025

Another market sizing prediction, this time by SNS Telecom & IT, pitches annual spending on private 4G and 5G networks at $4.7 billion by the end of 2020 and almost $8 billion by 2023. 

However this plays out, there’s clear anticipation of growing investment. What’s particularly interesting, though, is which organizations might pocket that investment. That’s because enterprises and/or organizations looking to benefit from having a private wireless network have a number of options once they decide to move ahead with a private network – here are three permutations that look most likely to me:
  1. Build and run it themselves – technology vendors get some sales in this instance
  2. Outsource the network planning, construction and possibly even the day-to-day. management of the network to a systems integrator (SI) – the SI and some vendors get the spoils. It’s possible here, of course, that the SI could be a technology vendor.
  3. Outsource to a mobile network operator – the operator and some vendors will get some greenbacks.
For sure there will be other permutations, but it shows how many different parts of the ecosystem have some skin in the game, which is what makes this sector so interesting.

What’s also interesting, of course, is what the enterprises do with their private networks: Does it enhance operations? Help reduce costs? Create new business opportunities? All of the above?

Let’s not forget the role of the regulators in all of this. In the US the private wireless sector has been given a shot in the arm by the availability of CBRS (Citizens Broadband Radio Service) shared spectrum in the currently unlicensed 3.5 GHz band: This has given rise to numerous trials and deployments in locations such as sports stadiums, Times Square and even prisons.

In Germany, the regulator has set aside 100MHz of 5G spectrum for private, industrial networks has caused a storm and even led to accusations from the mobile operators that the move ramped up the cost of licenses in the spectrum auction held earlier this year.

In the UK, Ofcom is making spectrum available in four bands:
  • the 1800 MHz and 2300 MHz shared spectrum bands, which are currently used for mobile services;
  • the 3.8-4.2 GHz band, which supports 5G services, and
  • the 26 GHz band, which has also been identified as one of the main bands for 5G in the future.
Slide shared by Mansoor Hanif, CTO, Ofcom at TIP Summit 2019

The process to enable companies and organizations (Ofcom has identified manufacturers, business parks, holiday/theme parks and farms as potential users) in the UK to apply for spectrum will go live before the end of this year, with Ofcom believing that thousands of private networks could be up and running in the coming years.

Dean Bubley from Disruptive Analysis recently spoke about BYOSpectrum – Why private cellular is a game-changer at TAD Summit. The talk is embedded below and is definitely worth listening:



TelecomPaper reported:

The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy said that companies can start to apply to use 5G frequencies in the 3.7-3.8 GHz range on industrial campuses. Local frequencies enable firms to build their own private networks, rather than rely on telecommunications providers to build networks. 

The Automotive Industry Association (VDA) and other industry associations including the VCI, VDMA and ZVEI have welcomed the allocation of frequencies for industrial campuses. According to VDA, several dozen companies have already registered their interest in such frequencies with the Federal Network Agency. 

The firms believe that 5G can replace existing networks, including WLAN, provide improved coverage of entire company premises, enable full control over company data and reduce disruption to public mobile networks.

The spectrum licences will be allocated based on the applicant's geographic footprint and use of a certain area. Prices also take account the area covered by the network, as well as the amount of bandwidth used and duration of the licence.

The formula for the prices is very interesting as shown in the tweet below



In Japan, NTT Docomo is working in co-operation with industry partners to help them to create their own private 5G networks. More announcements on this are expected at MWC next year.



Finally, I am running an Introduction to Private 4G /5G Networks Workshop with Dean Bubley on 04 Feb 2020. If this is an area of interest, consider attending it.



Related Posts:

Monday, 6 May 2019

Non-public networks (NPN) - Private Networks by another name


3GPP TS 22.261, Service requirements for the 5G system; Stage 1 gives a definition of non-public network which is simply defined as 'a network that is intended for non-public use'. Section 6.25 provides more info

Non-public networks are intended for the sole use of a private entity such as an enterprise, and may be deployed in a variety of configurations, utilising both virtual and physical elements. Specifically, they may be deployed as completely standalone networks, they may be hosted by a PLMN, or they may be offered as a slice of a PLMN.

In any of these deployment options, it is expected that unauthorised UEs, those that are not associated with the enterprise, will not attempt to access the non-public network, which could result in resources being used to reject that UE and thereby not be available for the UEs of the enterprise. It is also expected that UEs of the enterprise will not attempt to access a network they are not authorised to access. For example, some enterprise UEs may be restricted to only access the non-public network of the enterprise, even if PLMN coverage is available in the same geographic area. Other enterprise UEs may be able to access both a non-public network and a PLMN where specifically allowed.

The requirements section is interesting too:
  • The 5G system shall support non-public networks.
  • The 5G system shall support non-public networks that provide coverage within a specific geographic area.
  • The 5G system shall support both physical and virtual non-public networks. 
  • The 5G system shall support standalone operation of a non-public network, i.e. a non-public network may be able to operate without dependency on a PLMN.
  • Subject to an agreement between the operators and service providers, operator policies and the regional or national regulatory requirements, the 5G system shall support for non-public network subscribers:
    • access to subscribed PLMN services via the non-public network;
    • seamless service continuity for subscribed PLMN services between a non-public network and a PLMN;
    • access to selected non-public network services via a PLMN;
    • seamless service continuity for non-public network services between a non-public network and a PLMN.
  • A non-public network subscriber to access a PLMN service shall have a service subscription using 3GPP identifiers and credentials provided or accepted by a PLMN.
  • The 5G system shall support a mechanism for a UE to identify and select a non-public network.
    • NOTE: Different network selection mechanisms may be used for physical vs virtual non-public networks.
  • The 5G system shall support identifiers for a large number of non-public networks to minimize collision likelihood between assigned identifiers.
  • The 5G system shall support a mechanism to prevent a UE with a subscription to a non-public network from automatically selecting and attaching to a PLMN or non-public network it is not authorised to select.
  • The 5G system shall support a mechanism to prevent a UE with a subscription to a PLMN from automatically selecting and attaching to a non-public network it is not authorised to select. 
  • The 5G system shall support a change of host of a non-public network from one PLMN to another PLMN without changing the network selection information stored in the UEs of the non-public network.


5G ACIA (5G Alliance for Connected Industries and Automation), a Working Party of ZVEI (German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association) published a White Paper on '5G Non-Public Networks for Industrial Scenarios'.

This paper describes four industrial (IIoT) deployment scenarios for 3GPP-defined 5G non-public networks. The paper also considers key aspects, in particular service attributes that can help to highlight the differences between these scenarios. In contrast to a network that offers mobile network services to the general public, a 5G non-public network (NPN, also sometimes called a private network) provides 5G network services to a clearly defined user organisation or group of organisations.

The PDF of the white paper is available here.