5G is emerging as a benefit for users in terms of a better, faster, and richer experience. More vertical industries are paying attention to 5G technology — in cases, such as drone logistics, remote surgery, autonomous driving, assisted driving, and industrial control. The high bandwidth and low latency of 5G networks are creating new opportunities for the digital transformation of vertical industries. 5G is regarded as the optimal choice for industry digitization, especially because of mobile network characteristics, such as easy deployment and universal access.
The design concept of 5G is quite different from that of 4G. Where 4G offers a best-effort wireless network, 5G must provide a deterministic and differentiated experience for vertical industries. With these characteristics, 5G wireless networks not only provide universal services to the public, but also use virtual private networks to vertical industries for reliable transmission of industry information, varying levels of differentiation. In this way, wireless networks will serve as a platform to provide flexible function orchestration and scheduling, which in turn drives application exposure and development of each vertical industry. These capabilities of 5G deterministic networking bring more digital transformation opportunities to vertical industries.
5G Core Is the Key for Deterministic Networking
5G deterministic networking is an end-to-end (E2E) concept, covering wireless network base stations, transmission, and core network elements. Each individual network element is crucial for the capabilities of the entire network. Among these network elements, the 5G core networks serve as the brain of deterministic capabilities. A 5G core network is responsible for global resource scheduling and management during E2E network quality assurance. Specifically, it manages the global network topology, access information, user data, and industry requirements. It ensures that the users in each industry use their own private channels on the public network with a guaranteed deterministic experience.
To meet differentiated network requirements and deterministic SLAs, 5G deterministic networking uses two key underlying technologies: hyper-performance heterogeneous MEC and dynamic, intelligent network slicing. Hyper-performance heterogeneous MEC minimizes network latency. Dynamic, intelligent network slicing enables each industry to have its own virtual network, which ensures data security and network quality.
Hyper-Performance Heterogeneous MEC is the Basis of 5G Deterministic Networking
A hyper-performance heterogeneous MEC node has two core tasks. The first is to reduce E2E network latency to an acceptable range. Latency is the most important factor of all network capabilities, and it is used by deterministic networking to adapt to the diverse requirements of different industry applications. Hyper-performance heterogeneous MEC is the core technology for implementing 5GaaS (5G as a Service). It minimizes latency and enables connections to be quickly implemented at the edge. In this way, 5GaaS can be provided at the edge for thousands of different industries.
Of course, low latency is not enough. The second key point is the open ecosystem. To address this issue, Huawei uses the MEC platform (MEP) to enable interconnection and collaboration between a variety of industries. With MEP, applications can be quickly deployed on edge nodes, ensuring deterministic latency and reliability.
Dynamic, Intelligent Network Slicing Forms the Pivot of 5G Deterministic Networking
Network requirements vary greatly depending on the user or industry. Take remote metering as an example. Remote metering involves a large number of connections. It is not bandwidth-hungry or latency-sensitive, but it requires higher security and reliability. The requirements for applications, such as remote surgery and autonomous driving, are even more stringent: deterministic latency, high security, and "six nines" (99.9999%) availability.
To meet such requirements, dynamic, intelligent slicing technology is introduced. It builds multiple software-based, virtual private networks through flexible software orchestration and scheduling on a public network. It also delivers different network capabilities on these private networks, including bandwidth, latency, packet loss rate, jitter, and even security management mechanisms. In the future, dynamic, intelligent slicing capabilities will need to be exposed for vertical industries to customize and subscribe to. They must not only accommodate new applications requiring differentiated, deterministic experience, but also promise easy accessibility and agility. In this way, 5G networks will be a true enabler for the digital transformation of vertical industries.
Developing an Ecosystem Is Crucial to Building 5G Deterministic Networking
Deterministic networking, particularly from the edge computing prospective, requires a lot of support from carriers, vendors, and industry partners. As the saying goes: "If you want to go fast, walk alone. If you want to go far, walk together." Everyone needs to work together to develop such an ecosystem.
In the era of deterministic networking, 5G will bring much more benefits to everyone. It will not only enable individual users to access faster and better services, but also accelerate the digital transformation of vertical industries. We look forward to teaming up and making 5G the key driving force for industry digitization.