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Making Connections with IoT Solutions

8 Nov

Internet of Things technology is creating a safer and smarter world by allowing artificial intelligence to be used with electronic devices connected to the internet.

The driving force behind today’s smarter cars, homes, factories, and cities is the myriad of Internet of Things (IoT) devices now in place. They can collect data on almost any physical or environmental parameter, such as pressure, temperature, light intensity, and humidity, and transfer large amounts of data to the internet by means of unlicensed wireless communications bands.

Wireless cellular communications may not always be available for interconnection of IoT sensors to the internet and, for that reason, IoT systems function as “networks within a network.” A typical IoT network consists of its remotely located sensors, such as real-time video cameras and smart security sensors that detect motion when an intruder enters a vacated home, and an intelligent gateway that’s wirelessly connected to the sensors.

What Type of Network?

In establishing an interconnected network of IoT devices, the types of things and applications will determine the key parameters of the IoT network, such as whether short- or long-range coverage to the gateway is needed, whether a narrowband or wideband channel is needed for smaller or larger amounts of data, and the power consumption of the IoT network and whether sensors have permanent power available or must run on battery power. IoT devices perform wireless communications to a gateway via license-free industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) frequency bands, including at 433, 868, and 915 MHz, and 2.4 GHz.

Different ISM-band wireless standards are used to link IoT devices to an IoT gateway, including Bluetooth (based on the IEEE 802.15.1 standard), Zigbee (IEEE 802.15.4), and Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11). All three operate at 2.4 GHz. Wi-Fi, which is used for many wireless local area networks (WLANs), also works at 5 GHz.

For many IoT applications, low-power operation is an important consideration. To that end, LoRaWAN—a low-power wireless wide-area-network (WAN) LoRa technology developed by Semtech—has been adopted for many IoT devices and gateways to save power. Battery-powered nodes or sensors uplink or transmit data to a gateway or server and downlink or receive instructions from a gateway only at certain times to conserve power, in contrast to more power-hungry sensors that may remain in constant receive mode with a gateway.

Array of Applications

Using LANs that can exchange data between users and things creates almost unlimited opportunities for applying artificial-intelligence (AI) and machine-learning techniques to electronic systems and devices in many different markets. The leading applications for IoT devices and low-power networks are those close to home or right in the home as part of a smart home or building. Such applications allow a building owner to add IoT sensors for security, temperature control, turn lights on and off depending on time of day or occupancy, and even perform remote smart power monitoring to conserve energy by minimizing power use in parts of the home where it’s not needed.

In this type of application, all IoT sensors are wirelessly connected to a gateway in the manner of a WLAN. The gateway is then connected by a service provider to a major communications network by a fiber-optic landline connection or via wireless connection to a 3G, 4G, or 5G cellular wireless communications network. Provided that landline or mobile communications access is available, a user can monitor and modify IoT sensor settings within the smart home at any time.

The initial investment in an IoT gateway and sensor devices is quickly recouped by the energy savings in the smart home. In addition, the IoT setup can be used for other applications within the building. For instance, it could achieve 24-hour home security, not to mention the peace of mind that comes with having full-time electronic security. Or it can offer the ability to remotely and automatically keep track of required maintenance of electronic equipment, such as washers, dryers, and heating equipment, at any time with a mobile communications device such as a smartphone.

Many of these applications help forest rangers in remote national parks in Africa and South America to thwart attempts by poachers to trap animals within the parks. Because of the remoteness of the parks, there’s typically no access to a global 3G or 4G cellular wireless network; the IoT system must function as a relatively long-range secure wireless communications network. Sensors, such as motion detectors, are distributed throughout the park and its perimeter and interconnected to a network of slave and master gateways to create coverage over a wide area, allowing rangers to monitor for poachers as well as check on the whereabouts of their valued “residents.”

IoT technology is quickly being found to be immensely useful in many different industries, too. For connected cars, it simplifies communications between drivers as well as between drivers and machines. In smart factories, IoT helps track and maintain inventory and improve the efficiency of logistics and supply-chain management. It also enables machine-to-machine (M2M) interconnections—AI and machine learning between machines can help optimize the performance of robotic assembly and manufacturing equipment while monitoring power consumption and increasing power efficiency. In “smart cities,” IoT sensors and networks are providing numerous functions for improved quality of life, including automated vehicular traffic/pedestrian monitoring at traffic intersections.

A Boon to the Medical Field

However, perhaps no industry is experiencing greater benefits from the use of IoT technology than in medical and healthcare applications. AT&T Business, one of the leaders in applying IoT devices and networks throughout different industries, has already connected millions of “smart cars” to the internet by means of its IoT devices and 4G LTE networks. SAS is another leader in the use of IoT technology for medical and healthcare applications, as well as in the use of IoT in many other industries, including smart factories and connected cars.

AT&T Business predicts that 80 billion devices will be connected to the internet in the U.S. via IoT technology by 2025. Other prognosticators have stated that trillions of devices in China alone will be connected to the internet by 2025, creating a need for the increased bandwidth and data speeds possible with 5G cellular wireless networks.

Increased life expectancies are creating a growing number of older retired persons and an associated increasing demand for in-home medical monitoring. Unfortunately, as the number of older potential patients grows, available doctors and healthcare providers are more thinly spread to provide service or even basic checkups to those patients. The application of IoT technology can help by delivering in-home monitoring with IoT-enabled medical devices, such as blood-pressure and heart-rate monitors that a doctor or healthcare professional can access remotely over a 3G, 4G, or 5G cellular network.

AT&T Business has earned a leadership role in its applications for IoT in the home, for smart factories with real-time video monitoring for security, in smart cities, and in connected cars. However, perhaps the most meaningful are medical and healthcare applications in homes, hospitals, and healthcare facilities (Fig. 1).


1. The use of IoT technology may have the greatest benefits in hospitals and healthcare facilities. (Courtesy of AT&T Business)

For example, AT&T Business uses its Astute CTR-01 hub and multiple IoT nodes to provide in-home medical monitoring and connection of medical devices with connection to a 4G LTE network for secure outside access by means of a cellular smartphone. The hub/gateway is compatible with standard wireless-network technologies such as Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and Wi-Fi, easing the interconnection of commercial IoT-enabled medical devices such as wearable monitoring devices. The application-programmable-interface (API) software developed for the IoT devices and hub is also compatible with most legacy medical applications, thus simplifying the creation of an in-home medical monitoring system.

IoT technology also helps improve the security and efficiency of medical professionals in hospitals and healthcare facilities, starting with automated patient check-in practices rather than extended paper-based check-in procedures. Furthermore, the technology can be applied in the wireless connection and monitoring of many medical monitors throughout a hospital, while maintaining the cybersecurity of the APIs that drive the IoT gateways connecting the many IoT medical nodes throughout a facility, including heat-rate monitors (Fig. 2).


2. IoT technology will help serve the medical needs of a growing, aging population of retired persons with a shrinking number of medical professionals. (Courtesy of AT&T Business)

Such secure IoT networks also provide instant access for medical professionals to the data from relatively large and sophisticated medical analysis systems. These include computer-tomography (CT) and magnetic-resonance-imaging (MRI) systems (Fig. 3).


3. AT&T Business’s IoMT devices and networks can provide remote access to brain scans performed by CT imaging equipment. (Courtesy of AT&T Business)

AT&T Business’s extensive use of IoT technology for medical applications has prompted the firm’s description of its medical electronic products and services as the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), which includes its unique Aira service. By using smartphones and smart eyeglasses, the service is aimed at places of business seeking to become more user-friendly for low-vision customers. Businesses subscribing to the Aira service are outfitted with IoT sensors and gateways that provide customers with real-time, enhanced views of the business place. As this one application may indicate, the opportunities for IoT applications are endless and the promises are staggering.

08 11 19

Automotive to drive 5G IoT growth

30 Oct

The automotive industry will become the largest market for 5G IoT solutions by 2023, and component manufacturers are already rolling out innovative products to help designers implement the next-generation technology

Although outdoor surveillance cameras are forecast to be the biggest market for 5G  internet of things (IoT) solutions over the next three years, the automotive market is expected to become the largest driver by 2023, according to Gartner Inc. The surveillance camera market will account for 70% of the 5G IoT endpoint installed base in 2020 with 2.5 million endpoints, reaching 11.2 million units in 2022 before falling to 32% of the market by the end of 2023.

Gartner’s report “Market Trends: 5G Opportunities in IoT for Communications Service Providers, predicts that the 5G IoT endpoint installed base will more than triple between 2020 and 2021, from 3.5 million units in 2020 to 11.3 million units in 2021. By 2023, the 5G IoT endpoint installed base will near 49 million units (See Table 1), driven by connected cars and outdoor surveillance cameras


In 2023, the automotive industry will become the largest market for 5G IoT solutions, accounting for 53% of the 5G IoT endpoint units. The biggest 5G use case is expected to be embedded modules for connected cars. Gartner estimates that embedded endpoints in connected cars for commercial and consumer markets will represent an installed base of 19.1 million units out of a total of 25.9 million 5G endpoints in the automotive sector in 2023.

“The addressable market for embedded 5G connections in connected cars is growing faster than the overall growth in the 5G IoT sector,” said Stephanie Baghdassarian, senior research director at Gartner, in a statement. “Commercial and consumer connected-car embedded 5G endpoints will represent 11% of all 5G endpoints installed in 2020, and this figure will reach 39% by the end of 2023.”

The report also finds that the share of 5G-connected cars actively connected to a 5G service will grow from 15% in 2020 to 74% in 2023. Market share is expected to reach 94% in 2028, when 5G technology will be used for cellular V2X (vehicle-to-everything) communications.

This V2X connectivity will allow cars to talk to internal sensors and systems, other cars on the road, infrastructure, pedestrians, and cyclists. These subsets of V2X are vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I), vehicle-to-network (V2N), and vehicle-to-pedestrian (V2P).

The 5G wireless standard is driving a new collaboration between automotive and communication industries as the 5G networking technology becomes a key ingredient in connected cars. The big two reasons are that 5G lowers latency and increases data speed and cellular coverage reliability, which will be important in connected cars and autonomous vehicles.

Innovation and new products

While 5G capabilities open up new enterprise market opportunities for communications service providers, as cited by Gartner, it also means big opportunities for automotive OEM component suppliers, ranging from microcontrollers to RF semiconductors to connectors and passive components, for a range of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous driving solutions. It also gives engineers working on next-generation automotive systems access to new innovative products that can simplify their design, increase performance, and reduce costs.

There’s no doubt that the semiconductor industry will be a big winner in the move to 5G technology. Market research firm IHS Markit predicts that the deployment of 5G technology will pull the semiconductor industry out of its downturn in 2019, resulting in a 5.9% rebound in 2020, an 18-percent swing compared to 2019. Global revenue will reach $448 billion in 2020, up from $422.8 billion in 2019, according to the market research firm.

The 5G rollout into the automotive sector is driving improvements and integration in the RF semiconductor market. Earlier this year, major automakers announced cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) trials using Qorvo’s RF front-end module (FEM), which includes an HBT PA, PHEMT LNA, and PHEMT switch, and Qualcomm’s C-V2X 9150 chipset reference design. The linear output power and thermal management of the Qorvo FEM are important to supporting the real-time wireless safety communication system between vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, and infrastructure, said the company.

Automotive-grade timing devices are also improving for 5G connectivity, along with a variety of other automotive applications. As an example, Silicon Labs recently released a variety of AEC-Q100-qualified timing devices including the Si5332 any-frequency programmable clock generators, Si5225x PCIe Gen1/2/3/4/5 clocks, Si5325x PCIe buffers, and Si5335x fanout clock buffers. These timing devices are designed for automotive applications such as camera sub-systems, radar and LiDAR sensors, ADAS, autonomous driving control units, driver monitoring cameras, infotainment systems, Ethernet switches, and GPS and 5G connectivity.

These timing devices are available now in 32-QFN and 40-QFN package options. Silicon Labs also offers a range of evaluation boards that work with the company’s ClockBuilder Pro that enables engineers to customize devices and evaluate performance.

5G also is driving technology innovation and collaboration among providers. A recent example is the partnership between Trimble and Qualcomm Technologies, a subsidiary of Qualcomm Inc. The companies are collaborating on precise-positioning solutions for automotive applications.


Image: Qualcomm

The Trimble and Qualcomm collaboration will leverage Trimble’s RTX technology , which provides real-time, multi-constellation GNSS corrections and positioning capable of achieving 2-cm horizontal accuracy worldwide, and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon automotive 4G and 5G platforms, which feature integrated multi-frequency and multi-constellation high-precision GNSS technology, to develop accurate positioning solutions for absolute in-lane positioning. An RTX-enabled Snapdragon evaluation kit will be available by early 2020, for automotive OEMs.

30 10 19

The Role of Optical Wireless Communication Technologies in 5G/6G and IoT Solutions: Prospects, Directions, and Challenges

20 Oct


The upcoming fifth- and sixth-generation (5G and 6G, respectively) communication systems are expected to deal with enormous advances compared to the existing fourth-generation communication system. The few important and common issues related to the service quality of 5G and 6G communication systems are high capacity, massive connectivity, low latency, high security, low-energy consumption, high quality of experience, and reliable connectivity. Of course, 6G communication will provide several-fold improved performances compared to the 5G communication regarding these issues. The Internet of Things (IoT) based on the tactile internet will also be an essential part of 5G-and-beyond (5GB) (e.g., 5G and 6G) communication systems. Accordingly, 5GB wireless networks will face numerous challenges in supporting the extensive verities of heterogeneous traffic and in satisfying the mentioned service-quality-related parameters. Optical wireless communication (OWC), along with many other wireless technologies, is a promising candidate for serving the demands of 5GB communication systems. This review paper clearly presents how OWC technologies, such as visible light communication, light fidelity, optical camera communication, and free space optics communication, will be an effective solution for successful deployment of 5G/6G and IoT systems.

5G; 6G; IoT; heterogeneous networks; optical wireless communication; small cell

1. Introduction

In recent years, optical wireless communication (OWC) technologies have attracted extensive research interest because of some of their excellent features [1,2,3,4,5]. Wireless connectivity based on the optical spectrum is termed “OWC”. OWC has become a favorable complementary technology to radio frequency (RF)-based wireless technologies for future communication networks, including fifth- and sixth-generation (5G and 6G, respectively) communication systems. OWC technologies possess a number of prominent features such as wide spectrum, high-data-rate, low latency, high security, low cost, and low energy consumption, addressing the highly demanding requirements of 5G-and-beyond (5GB) (e.g., 5G and 6G) communications. Aside from this, the Internet of Things (IoT) network is becoming increasingly important. A large number of end-user devices or sensors are connected in IoT. Moreover, tactile internet will be the essential feature of the future IoT. It will enable real-time communicating systems with a range of societal, industrial, and business use cases. To envision the idea of IoT, the number of end-user physical devices connected to the internet is exponentially growing [6]. Therefore, the IoT generates a large volume of data. The OWC technologies can play an important role of sensing, monitoring, and resource sharing in massive device connectivity of IoT networks [2,6]. Moreover, the OWC can also meet the low-power consumption and high security requirements of the IoT.
The 5G communication system specification is already completed, and 5G is expected to be fully deployed by 2020 [7]. The upcoming 5G communication will offer new services with a very high quality of service (QoS). The main features of the 5G communication services will include ultra-high system capacity, ultra-low latency, ultra-high security, massive device connectivity, ultra-low-energy consumption, and extremely high quality of experience (QoE) [7,8,9,10,11]. The launch of the 6G communication system is anticipated to be between 2027 and 2030. The 6G specification has not yet been exactly identified, but many researchers are working on it [12,13,14,15,16]. Among the many research issues are capacity improvement, increase in the number of connectivities, latency reduction, security improvement, energy efficiency improvement, user QoE level enhancement, and reliability improvement, which will be addressed by both 5G and 6G communication systems. The 6G communication system is expected to be a global communication facility, with the service level being several folds better compared to 5G.
RF is currently widely used for different wireless connectivities. RF-based wireless communication faces several limitations, such as limited spectrum, great interference effect, and strict regulation. Only RF-based wireless communication technologies are insufficient in meeting the demand of 5GB and IoT networks. Therefore, researchers are working hard to determine a new spectrum that would fulfill the exponentially growing demands. A very large optical band is considered to be a promising solution for the development of 5GB and IoT networks with high-density and capacity. In comparison to RF-based networks, OWC-based network technologies offer unique advantages, such as high data rate, low latency, high security, and low-energy consumption [1,2,3,6]. Communication distances ranging from a few nanometers to more than 10,000 km are possible through the deployment of different OWC systems [2]. The main technologies of OWC networks include visible light communication (VLC) [6,17,18,19], light fidelity (LiFi) [20,21,22], optical camera communication (OCC) [23,24,25,26,27], and free space optics (FSO) [28,29,30] communication. The differences and similarities among these technologies are briefly discussed in another section. Each of these technologies has individual excellent features and some limitations. The verities of services are offered by different OWC technologies in indoor, outdoor, and space communications. Hence, the OWC technologies can play a vital role in achieving the goals of 5GB and IoT systems.
Our previous review paper related to OWC [2] provides a detail comparative study of various optical wireless technologies to acquire clear idea about the differences among them. The aim of this review paper is quite different. The detail explanation of OWC technologies is not the main goal of this study. It clearly presents how the OWC technologies will be an effective solution for the successful deployment of 5G/6G and IoT systems. We provide herein possible detailed 5G/6G and IoT solutions using different OWC networks. The contributions of this paper can be summarized as follows:
  • The key characteristics of the 5G and IoT networks are discussed. The possible 6G requirements are also briefly presented.
  • Different OWC technologies are briefly discussed in the 5GB and IoT systems’ points of view.
  • The scope of the OWC technologies to meet the 5G/6G and IoT requirements is explained in detail.
  • Recent works on the OWC technologies for the 5GB and IoT solutions are surveyed, and the research trends are discussed.
  • The challenging issues related to the OWC deployment for the 5G/6G and IoT solutions are discussed.
The rest of the paper is organized as follows: Section 2 provides a brief overview of the 5G, 6G, and IoT requirements; Section 3 describes different OWC technologies; and Section 4 describes the potential of the OWC technologies to meet the demands of the 5G, 6G, and IoT systems. Section 5 presents a few key challenging issues of OWC-based 5G/6G and IoT solutions. Section 6 draws the conclusion of this paper. Various abbreviations used in this paper are summarized in Table 1.
Table 1. List of acronyms.

2. Brief Overview of the 5G, 6G, and IoT Requirements

5G will provide an order of magnitude improvement in some key characteristics compared to 4G to efficiently support the increasing heterogeneous multimedia applications with a diverse set of requirements [11]. The 5G requirements are already specified, and the 5G system is expected to be fully deployed in 2020. The 5G key requirements are summarized as follows:
High traffic volume: The mobile data volume per area will be 1000 times compared to that of the 4G wireless networks, and the number of connected wireless devices will be 100 times higher.
Massive connectivity: 5G will provide massive connectivity. Ten to 100 times more devices will be connected compared to the 4G communication system [11].
High user data rate link: The 5G networks must have the capability to support a very high user data rate; the user will achieve up to 10 Gbps data rate, which will be 10 to 100 times higher compared to 4G.
Low-energy consumption: Low-energy consumption is an important requirement in the 5G communication system. It will reduce energy consumption by more than 90% (i.e., 10 times lower compared to 4G networks) [11].
Extremely low latency: The end-to-end latency will be within only a sub-millisecond level to a few milliseconds [11].
Researchers are focusing on standardizing the requirements of 6G networks [12,13,14,15,16,31,32,33,34]. The ultra-high bit rates per device (e.g., 10s of Gbps to Tbps) are expected to be one of the key requirements of 6G [12,31]. Moreover, 6G is expected to be characterized by 1000 times higher simultaneous wireless connectivity than that of 5G. An ultra-long-range communication with ultra-low-power consumption and ultra-low latency of less than 1 ms is expected for the user experience [13]. The other key expected characteristics of 6G are featured spatial multiplexing, higher spectral efficiency (100 bps/Hz), ultra-high wireless security, ultra-reliability, ultra-low-power consumptions, and massively connected complex networks.
The networks will have some special type of characteristics to support the demands of 5GB wireless communication systems. The key characteristics of future 5G and 6G networks are summarized as follows:
Ultra-high-dense network: To provide uniform QoE, massive connectivity, and high capacity demands, 5GB network deployments are expected to be much denser and comprise ultra-dense heterogeneous networks compared to 4G networks.
Small-cell networks: The concept of high-dense small-cell networks has been pointed out as a core characteristic for the 5GB communication systems.
Higher spectral efficiency: 5GB systems are also expected to guarantee an efficient use of the frequency spectrum by using multiple-input and multiple-output, advanced coding and modulation schemes, and a new waveform design. The spectral efficiency on 5G should be at least three times higher than that on the 4G networks.
Low cost: 5G systems are targeted to be 100 times more efficient compared to the 4G systems by delivering 100 times more data traffic using the same energy over the network. As a consequence, they will require low-cost network equipment, lower deployment costs, and enhanced power saving functionality on the network and user equipment sides [35].
Offloading of heavy traffic to indoors: Nearly 80% of the mobile traffic volume is generated indoors [36]. Offloading this volume of data to indoor dense small cells can release expensive and valuable resources of macrocells. Hence, offloading of data to indoor small cells will be another important characteristic of 5G and 6G networks.
The IoT networks also have important characteristics. Some key requirements of IoT systems are low device cost, low deployment cost, high energy efficiency, high security and privacy, and support for a massive number of devices [11].

3. Brief Overview of the OWC Technologies

The four main OWC technologies, namely visible light communication (VLC), light fidelity (LiFi), optical camera communication (OCC), and free space optics (FSO), are considered to be promising in meeting the demands of 5G/6G and IoT networks for their special features. Figure 1 illustrates brief architectures of these technologies. In terms of infrastructure, these technologies have differences in the type of transmitter, receiver, and communication media. The VLC uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs) or laser diodes (LDs) as transmitters and photodetectors (PDs) as receivers. Only visible light (VL) is used as the communication medium in the VLC. LiFi is similar to the wireless fidelity (WiFi) technology. It provides high-speed wireless connectivity along with illumination and uses LEDs or defuse LDs as transmitters and PDs as receivers. It uses VL for the forward path and infrared (IR) as the communication medium for the return path. However, it can also use VL as the communication medium for the return path. The receiver devices in most user equipment, such as smartphones, are not equipped with high-power LEDs; thus, the uplink communication in the VLC and the LiFi cannot perform well [37,38,39]. Moreover, they also cannot perform well in return path if the uplink is a diffused light and faces serious interference affected by the downlink lights. The OCC uses LED array or light as a transmitter and a camera or image sensor as a receiver. The built-in complementary metal-oxide semiconductor cameras facilitate the ability to capture photos and videos [40]. The camera can be either global shutter or rolling shutter [41] type. OCC normally uses VL or IR as the communication medium. However, ultraviolet (UV) spectrum can also be used as the communication medium. The FSO technology usually uses LD and PD as the transmitter and the receiver, respectively. However, heterodyne optical detection receiver is also used in FSO communication. It is normally operated using the IR as the communication medium but can also be operated using VL and UV. Table 2 presents the performance metric comparison among the various OWC technologies. The differences among these technologies are very specific. The unique characteristic of VLC is the use of visible light as communication media. A LiFi system must support seamless mobility, bidirectional communication, and point-to-multipoint, as well as multipoint-to-point communications. Only the OCC system uses camera or image sensor as a receiver among all the OWC technologies. Due to the narrow beams of focused light from an LD transmitter, an FSO system can form a very long distance as well as a high-data-rate communication link. The detail differences among the OWC technologies can be found in our previous work in [2].
Figure 1. OWC technologies for the 5G/6G and IoT systems.
Table 2. Comparison of the performance metrics in various OWC technologies [2,18,20,24,28,42].

4. OWC Technologies for the 5G, 6G, and IoT Solutions

4.1. Why Choose OWC Technologies?

The RF band lies between 3 kHz and 300 GHz of the electromagnetic spectrum [2]. However, the range (3 kHz, 10 GHz) is widely used by the existing wireless technologies because of favorable communication properties in this range. This band is almost exhausted and insufficient in providing the high demands of the 5G/6G and IoT networks. It is also strictly regulated by the local and international authorities. The OWC has excellent features in providing for fulfilment of the strict requirements. The OWC can be used for a wide range of applications. Various types of communications, such as machine-to-machine, device-to-device, chip-to-chip, vehicle-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-infrastructure, infrastructure-to-vehicle, point-to-point, and point-to-multipoint, can be accomplished using different OWC technologies [2,6,29]. Light allows connectivity over various ranges (nanometers to greater than 10,000 km) of communications, such as ultra-short-range inter-chip interconnects using FSO system and in-body networks using VLC, OCC, or LiFi systems; short-range LiFi, vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communications, and indoor positioning; medium range inter-building networks; long-range inter-city backhaul connectivity; and long-range satellite-to-satellite communications. It can also provide a high-data-rate communication link. The other key features of the OWC include high unregulated bandwidth, high level of security, low-power consumption, low infrastructure and device cost, no interference with RF devices and networks, high achievable SNR, and easy integration into existing lighting infrastructures. The most important limitation of the OWC systems is the blocking of transmission by obstacles. The coexistence of the RF and OWC networks can effectively solve most of the limitations of individual RF-based and optical wireless communication systems. Figure 2 presents a few important 5G/6G and IoT platforms using the OWC technologies. The OWC networks can support each and every platform of our lives, such as V2X communications, underwater communications, cellular connectivity support, space communication, smart shopping, electronic health (eHealth), and smart home. This section explains how the OWC networks can provide effective solutions for the 5G, 6G, and IoT deployment.
Figure 2. OWC networks for the 5G/6G and IoT platforms.

4.2. Fulfilling the Service Quality Characteristics

High volume of capacity: A much higher bandwidth is essential to realize thousand-fold capacity enhancements in 5GB networks. This desirable higher bandwidth is available in the optical spectrum. Table 3 lists the RF and optical frequencies in the electromagnetic spectrum. The RF band consists of only 300 GHz of the huge electromagnetic spectrum. The optical band (300 GHz to 30 PHz) is considerably very high. However, only a small portion of the optical spectrum (a part of visible light, near infrared, and middle ultraviolet) is currently being used. Future research will increase the use of the optical spectrum portion as well as improve the efficient use of it. The terahertz band (0.3–3 THz) situated in infrared is expected to be used for future high-data-rate cellular communications [31]. The availability of a wide optical spectrum through different OWC technologies opens the opportunity to support a high volume of data capacity. Moreover, high-speed network connectivity is required to support massive IoT connectivity. Hence, the optical spectrum has the potential to serve the large volume of data traffic generated by high-data-rate heterogeneous multimedia applications in the 5G, 6G, and IoT networks.
Table 3. RF and optical spectra [2,3,4,5,6,21,29].
Ultra-high user data rate: The transmission rate of the 5G mobile communication systems is expected to reach an average of 1 Gbps at a 10 Gbps peak rate [8]. Accordingly, 6G will later support tens of Gbps to Tbps bit rates per device. The VLC and LiFi technologies have the capability to support very high-data-rate services at the user level. Moreover, LiFi can support a complete network system (i.e., point-to-multipoint, multipoint-to-point, and bidirectional communications) such as WiFi. A data rate of 100 Gbps has already been confirmed using the VLC [18,43]. The FSO can also support high-data-rate services indoors and outdoors. An outdoor remote high-speed connectivity is possible using the FSO network. The OWC based on the UV band can provide high-data-rate, non-line-of-sight communications [4]. In addition, extensive studies aimed at increasing the data rate in the OWC technologies are ongoing. Hence, the OWC technologies are a good complementary solution for supporting high-data-rate connectivity in 5G and 6G and more advanced communication systems. Figure 3 illustrates a scenario of high-speed connectivity using different OWC technologies. High-data rate connectivity is provided to indoor and outdoor users and in V2X communications.
Figure 3. High-speed connectivity using different OWC technologies.
Ultra-low latency: Low latency is a crucial criterion for any kind of communication system and is a more critical factor in 5GB communication systems. OWC systems normally follow line-of-sight (LOS) paths and, hence, the communication distance is minimum with no loss due to the obstructions. However, the RF-based communications use both LOS and non-line-of-sight (NLOS) paths. There is a significant loss due to the obstructions in NLOS paths. Moreover, the communication distance is not minimum due to the NLOS path. Hence, even though RF and optical signals both propagate at the speed of light, the communication using the optical band is faster than that using RF bands because the propagation is rapid in the optical communication systems [44]. Additionally, the processing time in an optical system is short. A fraction of millisecond end-to-end delay communication services can be provided using the OWC technologies. Hence, these OWC-based network technologies that can offer services with negligible latency in the 5GB communication systems.
Ultra-low-energy consumption: Among a few important criteria, energy efficiency is one of the most important requirements for all 5G, 6G, and IoT systems. Most OWC system infrastructures are based on LEDs. Currently deployed LEDs consume a very small power. Moreover, huge studies are currently ongoing around the world to reduce the power consumption by LEDs. LEDs can also be used for illumination and communication. Therefore, no additional energy is consumed by an LED transmitter if it is used for illumination as well. Compared to RF sensors, LED sensors consume very little energy. The OWC technologies can provide communication systems that consume very little power; hence, the OWC-based communication technologies can provide energy-efficient communication systems that are an important requirement for the 5GB and IoT deployments.
Reliable connectivity: A reliable connectivity is an important criterion for any kind of communication system. The OWC systems assure a very high level of SNR, especially for indoor users. Even for outdoor scenarios, the OCC can provide non-interference communication and a high SNR. Moreover, a stable performance is achievable even when the communication distance increases. The FSO also provides a good SNR level for outdoor long-distance communications. The OWC networks yield an opportunity of providing an extra tier network for indoor users, which surely increases the reliability of a communication system. Therefore, the OWC systems can increase the connectivity reliability for users in the 5G/6G and IoT networks.
Ultra-high security: The OWC technologies can provide a secure communication, as is required by the 5G, 6G, and IoT networks. The OWC signal cannot penetrate an obstacle; therefore, outside people cannot hack the information. It is impossible for a network hacker device that is outside to pick up the inside optical signal. The information can be exchanged in a highly secured manner, especially for health purposes. Hence, the OWC systems offer a higher level of security for the 5G/6G and IoT networks.

4.3. Fulfilling the Network and Infrastructure Characteristics

Network densification using highly dense heterogeneous networks: Three primary means can be used to add capacity to a network—densifying the network, making the spectrum more efficient, and using more frequency spectra. Network densification is defined as the adding of more cell sites to increase capacity. Network densification includes the dense deployment of small cells and the increase of frequency utilization. Cell sites are placed in capacity-stressed areas to add more capacity and offload traffic from the surrounding sites. Densely populated areas, where a huge traffic volume is generated, are considered for network densification. The high system capacity and the high per-user data rates in the 5G/6G communication systems necessitate the densification of access networks and/or the deployment of additional network infrastructures. The traffic volume can be increased by increasing the number of small cells. Moreover, shortening the access network to the user distance improves the achievable data rate. Hence, network densification in terms of the dense deployment of small cells is a must to meet the requirements of 5G/6G paradigms. Along with macrocells and other wide-area networks, different indoor and outdoor optical or RF small cells will be the networks in this dense deployment. Each and every indoor can contain many optical small cells (e.g., VLC, LiFi, and OCC networks) along with RF small cells. Moreover, many outdoor applications, such as vehicular networks and street lighting, will also use many optical small cells for communication. Therefore, the dense deployment of the OWC networks meets this network densification criterion. The facility of high-capacity FSO backhaul connectivity also ensures the backhaul densification. Figure 4 indicates that the OWC-based small-cell networks along with the RF small cells create highly dense network deployment.
Figure 4. Scenario of heterogeneous multi-tier networks containing an RF macrocell, many RF small cells, and a large number of optical small cells.
Multi-tier architecture and convergence of heterogeneous networks: To meet the demands of future communication, networks will exploit a multi-tier architecture of larger coverage satellite and/or macrocell networks underlying small cells containing RF small cells and optical VLC, LiFi, and OCC networks. The VLC and LiFi even create a tier under RF small cells. Figure 4 presents an example of a multi-tier architecture consisting of macrocells, RF small cells, or optical small cells. The presence of optical small cells, such as VLC and LiFi, creates an opportunity to add additional high capacity in multi-tier wireless heterogeneous networks. As a result of the multi-tier architecture, load will be offloaded from expensive satellite or macrocell networks to small-cell networks. A large number of users can be served by indoor OWC systems. Consequently, outdoor expensive and comparatively low-capacity macrocell and satellite networks can provide better services for outdoor users. Moreover, the limitations of RF-based wireless communication systems are overcome using the OWC technologies in the multi-tier heterogeneous networks. Optical and RF signals do not interfere with each other; hence, the multi-tier networks consisting of RF and optical wireless networks can effectively reduce the interference effect [45]. In other words, the OWC technologies will play a vital role in multi-tier heterogonous networks in 5G, 6G, and more advanced communication systems.
Provision of hybrid network connectivity: Each of the individual RF and optical wireless technologies has limitations and advantages. The coexistence of heterogeneous networks (i.e., hybrid systems consisting of both RF and OWC technologies) can effectively overcome the limitations. The presence of two systems improves the link reliability and provides an opportunity for load balancing. Moreover, for outdoor applications, the hybrid system can overcome the atmospheric effect. Figure 5 illustrates a few possible means of connectivity in the RF/optical hybrid systems. The RF and optical links work together for connectivity. Connectivity from a source to a destination is established directly or through relay. The optical link in the relay system can be established either from source-to-relay or relay-to-destination in a hybrid system. In any or both of these, the links can also be established with the presence of optical and RF links simultaneously. The forward and return communication links may be different or the same on the basis of the application scenario and the hybrid type. Another possibility is the sharing of forward and return paths. The optical links can be used for the forward path, and the RF link can be used for the return path. Hence, the OWC technologies can play an important role in designing hybrid systems to mitigate the limitations and bring a proper solution in the 5G/6G networks.
Figure 5. Few possible ways of connectivity using optical and RF hybrid systems.
Massive device connectivity: Massive connectivity is a crucial characteristic of future communication systems. The IoT in 5G is predicted to connect up to 50 billion heterogeneous devices. These devices will be used in not only mobile phones but also in other devices, such as vehicles, household electronics, and medical equipment, to build a smart society [46]. Through the massive connectivity, the IoT supports an integration of various sensors and physical devices, which can monitor and communicate directly with one another without human intervention [47]. In addition, it is expected that the IoT in the 6G paradigm will connect more devices with the capability of being intelligent in nature.
The OWC can play a vital role in providing massive connectivity. The usage of LEDs for different purposes is exponentially increasing because of LEDs’ low price, low-energy consumption, and longer life span. The OCC has especially attracted much interest in the area of IoT. Using an existing or a slightly modified infrastructure, the OCC facilitates the development of economically attractive solutions for a wide range of IoT applications. Hence, the OWC technology can provide an enormous number of connections through low-power LEDs to achieve the goals of the 5G/6G and IoT networks. Figure 6 illustrates only a few examples of massive connectivity in different environments through different OWC technologies. The OWC technologies support massive connectivity in homes, healthcare, transportation systems, remote connectivity, and smart grid systems. A smart grid comprises different operational and energy-measuring devices, such as smart meters, smart appliances, renewable energy resources, and energy-efficient resources. Through the massive connectivity among these, smart grids serve as building blocks for energy management of a sustainable environment [47].
Figure 6. Few examples of massive connectivity using the OWC technologies.
The IoT networks have some important characteristics. Some key requirements of the IoT are low device cost, low deployment cost, high energy efficiency, high security and privacy, and support for a large number of devices. The LED-based OWC systems have all the great features required to support the IoT. The key technologies currently used for the IoT connectivity are Zigbee, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), and WiFi. ZigBee is a low-cost, low-power, wireless mesh network standard that has been widely used for IoT applications [48]. Zigbee only supports a low transmission rate, and its security level is not good. The interference is a concern in dense Zigbee networks. The BLE is a smart low-energy version of Bluetooth designed for short-range communication. The BLE currently only supports a single-hop topology, namely piconet, with one master device communicating with several slave nodes, and a broadcast group topology with an advertiser node broadcasting to several scanners [48]. WiFi does not offer any guaranteed QoS and is affected by high interference caused by sharing the unlicensed band with Zigbee, Bluetooth, and many other ISM (industrial, scientific, and medical) band devices. The OWC technologies have a superior capability of meeting the requirements of the IoT networks compared to other existing wireless technologies.
Small-cell networks: An effective method of increasing the area spectral efficiency is to shrink the cell size where a small number of users are served by a cell [49]. To support the cellular connectivity and cope with the demand, the third generation communication system contains only the macrocellular networks; the 4G system added small-cell and microcell along with macrocellular networks, whereas the 5G system will contain ultra-dense small-cells along with macrocellular networks [50]. The shrinking creates an opportunity to provide more spectra to each user. The introduction of indoor small-cell or femtocell has opened a lot of opportunities. The cell radius of an indoor small-cell is around 10 m to serve five to six users [51]. The small-cell deployment is a cost-effective and energy-efficient solution of meeting the coverage and capacity requirement [45]. The peak user data rates of the 5G and 6G communication systems are expected to be 10 Gbs and 1 Tbps, respectively. Heavy data traffic must be handled by indoor small-cell networks because large data are generated indoors. Hence, one of the most important characteristics of the 5GB communication systems will be the deployment of highly dense small-cell networks. The indoor VLC and LiFi create highly dense small cells. Each of the networks under one light source is considered a small cell. Even hundreds of VLC/LiFi-based small cells can be found in a large room. Hence, the OWC networks can fulfill the criteria for the 5G/6G networks.
Seamless movement: Seamless movement is an essential criterion for considering any kind of technology in the 5GB networks. The LiFi system offers complete mobility support to meet the demand of 5G and 6G communication systems.
High-capacity backhaul network: A backhaul is a network that connects the access network to the core network. Current backhaul networks mostly comprise dedicated fiber, copper, microwave, mmWave, and, occasionally, satellite links [8,52]. Backhaul connectivity using satellite link depends on the availability of other options. A high-capacity backhaul network is an essential part in the 5GB systems’ ability to exchange a large volume of data traffic between the access and core networks. Without a high-capacity backhaul network, the communication system will not be completed, even though the access networks support the Gbps communication link between the access network and the user equipment. A low-capacity backhaul network will create a bottleneck in the system. Along with the wired optical fiber networks, optical wireless networks, such as the FSO, can effectively solve this issue. The FSO system has excellent features to establish a high-capacity and long-range outdoor backhaul link. Figure 7 presents a few scenarios of the high-capacity backhaul connectivity using FSO communications. High-capacity backhaul networks using the FSO provide connectivity in remote areas, such as underwater, sea, space, and an isolated island. Even the FSO can be used to establish excellent quality connectivity with the macrocellar base stations (MBSs), instead of the existing backhaul network technologies. Table 4 presents a comparison of the achieved data rates and latencies in a few important existing backhaul technologies. The throughput in optical fiber is the highest among all the technologies up until now. However, the throughput in FSO system is comparable with optical fiber. Both the optical fiber and FSO systems use a similar type of transmitter and receiver, and, hence, it will possible to achieve similar throughput in FSO as is the case with the optical fiber system in near future. The latency is calculated for transmission during backhaul connectivity. Hence, the FSO network will be an excellent complementary solution of wired and microwave/mmWave systems to support high-data-rate communications in the 5G and 6G networks.
Figure 7. High-capacity backhaul connectivity for a remote hill, a remote island, and a remote city.
Table 4. Comparison of the achieved data rates and latencies in the existing important backhaul technologies [2,9,44].
Green Communication: Green communication can be achieved by several factors, such as energy awareness in network deployment, choice in communication devices, and design in the communication network protocols. Hence, the green aspects of the future 5G/6G and IoT networks require an energy-efficient communication that can be effectively realized by increasing the use of LED-based OWC technologies. The OWC technologies will support a large portion of the entire wireless data volume. A large amount of energy can be saved if a large portion of indoor users use the OWC networks based on LEDs that are also used for illumination. Moreover, the OWC system can serve for the purpose of energy harvesting (EH). It has been demonstrated that solar cells can be integrated into VLC links to function both as energy harvesters and as optical receivers [53]. Hence, the OWC systems contribute to a built-up green communication system that is one of the most important characteristics of the 5G/6G and IoT networks.
Tactile internet support: The International Telecommunication Union defines tactile internet as the future internet network that combines ultra-low latency with extremely high availability, reliability, and security. The tactile internet will be the next evolution of IoT to encompass human-to-machine and machine-to-machine interactions [54,55,56,57]. The OWC technologies have the ability to support the tactile internet. Our previous work in [58] introduced human bond communication (HBC) to enable continuous bidirectional communication among multiple users.
Intelligent transportation: Vehicular communication is an essential part of the modern era that promises to provide ubiquitous connectivity with ultra-reliable and low-latency connectivity [59]. V2X communications improve road safety, traffic efficiency, and availability of infotainment services [60]. The dedicated short-range communication (DSRC) technology, which works in a 5.9 GHz band, is being widely used to support V2X communications, specifically those focusing on vehicular safety applications [61]. The mmWave bands are also attractive for V2X communications to support Gigabits per second date rates, which cannot be achieved in the DSRC [61]. Moreover, the OWC technologies have potential to support a reliable connectivity in LOS conditions. VLC and LiFi can support short-distance inter-vehicle communications, whereas OCC can support communication over a 60 m distance [62]; FSO can support even longer distance communication.

4.4. Surveys of OWC-Based 5G and IoT Systems

A number of researchers around the world are working on OWC-based future communication networks. Table 5 summarizes the key studies on the OWC technologies for the future 5G and IoT systems. No significant work has yet been done on OWC-based 6G communication system. The HBC in [58] is based on head-mounted displays (HMDs). To deploy OCC in HMDs for HBC, the camera of an HMD is used as a receiver, whereas an IR light source is included to the HMD as a transmitter. This work explains the feasibility of HMDs for communication purposes. This system facilitates the users or devices to communicate efficiently with other users or devices using their HMDs. The authors in [63] introduce an LED transmitter and camera receiver-based optical vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication system that can be an emerging technology for Internet of Vehicles. The LED transmitter in a vehicle transmits various data to other camera receivers of a distinct vehicle. An optical communication image sensor is employed in the camera receiver. In [64], the authors present the LiFi/WiFi-integrated architecture that can meet the demands of the 5G system. The universal traffic management system in [65] provides expressway and ordinary road information to cars. This system uses LED headlight as a transmitter for the uplink and multiple PDs with a lens as a roadside receiver. For the downlink, it transmits signal from an LED on a roadside unit and receives the signal using an optical communication image sensor receiver on vehicle. M.B. Rahaim et al. [66] describe the motivating factors for VLC usage to support highly dense users. They present the VLC integration with RF technologies. Selecting of suitable operating conditions for each of the RF and VLC solutions is important to achieve the best outcome. In the relay-assisted VLC system in [67], an amplify-and-forward relay is used to forward the signals and at the same time transmit its own signals. The relay terminal only assists source terminal in forwarding signals to destination terminal. The signals from source terminal are allocated to even subcarriers, whereas the signals from relay terminal are allocated to odd subcarriers.
Table 5. Summary of the current research trends in the OWC based on the 5G and IoT systems.
In [76], the authors present the integration of 5G New Radio (NR) with VLC downlink architecture. It combines complementary upcoming 5G NR and VLC wireless technologies. The data transmission of the 5G NR frame over VLC is implemented. The three-dimensional hybrid RF/VLC indoor IoT system in [81], a homogeneous Poisson point process is adopted to model to the distribution of the terminals. The light EH model is considered after introducing the LOS propagation model for VLC. At each of the devices at room, light EH is conducted by using PDs and the harvested energy is adopted for the transmissions over the RF uplink. This paper presents the key advances of OWC technologies to meet the future demands considering 5G, 6G, and IoT systems that are not yet presented in any other review literature. All the OWC technologies are considered and the ways through which each technology can contribute to reach the goal of 5G, 6G, and IoT systems are clearly presented in this article.

5. Challenges of the OWC in the 5G/6G and IoT Solutions

A number of challenging issues must be proficiently addressed to deploy the OWC technologies for the 5G/6G and IoT solutions. A few important challenging issues are briefly discussed below:
Frequent handover: Future communication systems will consist of heterogeneous small dense networks that will create very frequent handovers. A handover will be between optical networks and between optical and RF networks. Optical cells are very small and may trigger many unnecessary handovers. Avoiding an unnecessary handover and the ping-pong effect is also an important issue. The properties of the physical and data-link layers differ in the optical and RF-based wireless networks, thereby bringing about a great challenge for the mobility support in RF/optical hybrid systems.
Inter-cell interference: Managing the inter-cell optical interference is a serious issue in the deployment of optical VLC and LiFi networks. The dense deployment of LEDs for the OWC technologies may create high interference in the 5G/6G and IoT networks. Therefore, the inter-cell optical interference is a challenging issue.
Atmospheric loss: The performance of the OWC technologies is affected by scattering, refraction, air absorption, free space loss, and scintillation of the atmosphere. In an outdoor environment, fog and dust obstruct the optical signal from the transmitter to the receiver. The communication link quality in the FSO is degraded because of bad atmospheric conditions. Hence, the atmospheric loss mitigation is challenging with regard to reaching the goal of the 5GB networks, especially in the outdoor condition.
Limited uplink communication using OWC technologies: Most of the user equipment is designed with low-power LEDs to reduce the drainage of power. Because of the low-power LEDs, VLC and the LiFi cannot perform well in uplink communication. Moreover, most of the LEDs of the user equipment produce diffused lights with low power that are easily affected by downlink high-power lights and, hence, limit the uplink communication. In addition, a little deflection or movement of the receiver of a user equipment can easily hamper the uplink communication link. Hence, this is an important issue to be solved in future to efficiently support uplink communication using VLC and the LiFi systems.
Low data rate of the OCC system: One of the most important drawbacks of the existing OCC system is the low data rate. It is challenging to provide a high data rate because of its low-frame rate cameras. The most recently achieved data rate in the OCC system is only 55 Mbps [27]. This data rate should be increased to fulfill the demands of services in the 5G/6G and IoT networks.
Flickering avoidance: Flickering is defined as the fluctuations in the brightness of a light that can be noticed by humans. This is an important issue in the OWC systems. Different modulation schemes on the OWC systems may cause flickering that has a harmful effect on human health. The modulation of LEDs should be done in such a manner that flickering is avoided. Such is a challenging issue.
Data rate improvement of the FSO backhaul system: The backhaul systems in the 5G/6G systems have to handle an enormous volume of data traffic to support high-data-rate services at the user level; otherwise, a bottleneck problem will arise. Hence, increasing the FSO backhaul capacity considering the growth of traffic volume is a challenging task.
Machine learning for OWC: Learning-based networking system will be the key requirement in future 6G communication networks. The ever-increasing complex network structure and requirements demand artificial controlling and decision-making in challenging environments. We can use supervised learning for several OWC-based applications such as smart healthcare [83], smart home lighting [84], and OWC data mining. OWC data-based analysis, such as correlating, ranking, spatial and temporal analysis, and flow prediction, can be performed more efficiently by unsupervised methods of machine learning. Furthermore, we can use reinforcement learning to enhance the data rate, implement network switching and manage network traffic, among other factors, of the ultra-dense OWC networks for 6G [14]. Integrating machine learning in 6G OWC networks enables intelligent network assignment, auto error correction, efficient decision making, and network re-assignment, among others. Moreover, machine learning approach is a core demand in indoor mobile robot-based dense OWC small networks to perform fast and efficient tasks.

6. Conclusions

The 5G communication is expected to hit the market by 2020. After that, the 6G communication is predicted to be launched in between 2027 and 2030. Achieving the goals of 5G/6G and IoT on the basis of tactile internet is challenging. The most important and most challenging issues are the provision of high capacity, massive connectivity, low latency, high security, low-energy consumption, high QoE, and highly reliable connectivity for 5GB communication systems. Only RF-based systems are unable to meet the high demands of future 5G/6G and IoT networks. OWC technologies are the best complementary solution of RF networks. The coexistence of RF and optical wireless systems can achieve the goals of such networks. This study presented a detailed observation of how OWC technologies, such as VLC, LiFi, OCC, and FSO, will provide an effective solution for the successful deployment of future 5G/6G and IoT networks. To do that, we briefly explained herein the characteristics of 5G, 6G, and IoT systems and features of OWC technologies. Each 5G, 6G, and IoT specification is individually explained herein with regard how OWC systems offer such features. The present OWC-related studies on 5G and IoT were also summarized in this paper. Therefore, this paper is highly expected to help in understanding the research contributions in different optical wireless systems for the deployment of future networks.

Today’s 4G LTE puts you on the pathway to tomorrow’s 5G

20 Oct

Phrases like 3G, 4G, and 5G draw definitive traces within the sand between one era and the following. In truth, the transition is way more sluggish. And since what we name 5G accommodates many functions, it’s turning into clearer that the era will impact our lives in numerous tactics, ramping up in magnitude through the years.

In the long run, 5G’s gigabit-class throughput, ultra-low latency, ultra-high reliability, and data-centric infrastructure will make it imaginable to use synthetic intelligence at an unparalleled scale. It’ll enhance the versatility of cloud computing, whilst developing new alternatives on the edge. And it’ll pave the way in which for a bigger collection of broadband IoT units, which is able to account for just about 35% of mobile IoT connections through 2024. Simply within the media business by myself, new products and services and programs enabled through 5G are anticipated to generate a cumulative $765 billion bucks between now and 2028.

5-year outlook

Whilst the adoption of 5G gained’t be so simple as flipping a transfer, we do have some sense of the transition’s tempo. If the merger between T-Cell and Dash is going via, 97% of the U.S. inhabitants is promised some type of 5G carrier from the New T-Cell inside 3 years of that deal final, together with 85% of people in rural spaces. The union of T-Cell and Dash additionally units forth a plan to determine Dish Networks as a fourth primary wi-fi provider along AT&T and Verizon, serving a minimum of 70% of the U.S. inhabitants with 5G through June 2023.

Between from time to time, 5G entry will proceed rolling out within the densest spaces and municipalities pleasant to the era’s infrastructure necessities, in step with a record printed through cloud-delivered wi-fi edge answer supplier Cradlepoint. Ericsson’s June 2019 Mobility Record forecasts 10 million 5G subscriptions international through the top of 2019. A quicker uptake in comparison to LTE would possibly lead to as many as 1.nine billion 5G subscriptions for enhanced cellular broadband through the top of 2024.

So does that imply you will have to dangle off on upgrading community infrastructure till 5G protection is in style? Now not essentially. In the similar record, Ericsson tasks the ongoing enlargement of LTE, culminating in a height of five.three billion subscriptions in 2022. There’s no doubt that LTE and 5G networks will perform in live performance for years yet to come.

Very best of all, there’s a pathway to 5G that guarantees a lot of the era’s price on current 4G LTE networks. As you run up towards programs begging for gigabit-class records charges and single-digit-millisecond latencies, a handful of knowledgeable upgrades could also be all you want to bridge the distance between what’s to be had now and whole 5G protection throughout your WAN.

ericsson june 2019 mobility report

Above: A 5G subscription is counted as such when related to a tool that helps New Radio (NR), as laid out in 3GPP Unlock 15, and is hooked up to a 5G-enabled community

How is 5G taking place lately?

Prior to we discover what you’ll be able to do now, let’s communicate a bit extra about how the era is rolling out lately. 5G is getting used to explain many various functions, frequency spectrums, or even use circumstances. They gained’t all be imaginable, and even fascinating, throughout 5G-capable units or on 5G networks. That is through design, regardless that.

Present 5G deployments are being pushed through mounted wi-fi entry and enhanced cellular broadband (eMBB), construction upon 4G LTE with extra to be had spectrum and wider bands to push considerably upper bandwidth. However every provider’s technique is moderately other.

Verizon, for instance, is specializing in the 28 GHz and 39 GHz frequencies, often known as millimeter wave, to reach large throughput and coffee latency. Alternatively, the restricted vary of the ones alerts may also be problematic, even within the dense city spaces the place Verizon already gives 5G carrier.

“You want to have 4 antennas, every on a special airplane, to give you the optimum line of sight connectivity to a 5G millimeter wave tower,” defined Todd Krautkremer, CMO at Cradlepoint. “Then you want some type of set up help, in all probability an software, that is helping consumers optimally place that instrument. Additionally it is most probably that you want an outside modem that mounts on a pole or aspect of a construction to verify you’ll be able to get connectivity since millimeter-wave alerts steadily combat to penetrate low-emissivity-glass, for instance.

Dash is the usage of extra 2.five GHz spectrum with huge MIMO antenna programs in the past deployed to improve its LTE carrier. That’s going to make it more uncomplicated for the corporate to succeed in extra consumers, albeit at decrease records charges. In reality, Verizon suggests a reliance on mid-band spectrum goes to make a large number of 5G approximate “excellent 4G carrier.”

Very similar to Verizon, T-Cell is approved for millimeter wave spectrum within the 28 GHz and 39 GHz bands. It’s additionally running to enlarge protection with 600 MHz low-band 5G. A merger with Dash would give each corporations entry to sources around the vary of frequencies utilized by 5G programs.

5G’s different use circumstances will take time to bake

Past the improved cellular broadband and stuck wi-fi entry stoning up in city markets, the advantages of 5G can even make it imaginable to ensure ultra-reliable low-latency communications (URLLC) for robotics, protection programs, self sustaining cars, and healthcare.

cradlepoint 5g use cases

Above: 5G use circumstances

This 2nd carrier class explained through the Global Telecommunication Union gifts a novel set of demanding situations since low latency and excessive reliability are steadily at odds with every different. However URLLC products and services are designed to take precedence a few of the different 5G use circumstances. They loosen up the emphasis on uncooked throughput with shorter messages, extra clever scheduling, and grant-free uplink entry, getting rid of latency that in the past went into combating interference from units transmitting on the identical time.

A 3rd use case, huge machine-type communique (mMTC), guarantees connectivity to dense swathes of sensors that aren’t essentially bandwidth-sensitive. They do, alternatively, require low continual intake, low charge, and dependable operation in a sea of heterogenous units working at the identical community.

5G’s eMBB carrier class appears so much like an evolution of 4G, paving the way in which for upper throughput and extra environment friendly use of to be had spectrum. The URLLC and mMTC categories are all in regards to the Web of Issues (IoT), the place machines, sensors, cameras, drones, and surgical gear interoperate in new and thrilling tactics. For a few of these units, the 99.99 reliability of 4G LTE programs]  is inadequate. Others stand to have the benefit of 5G’s non-orthogonal more than one entry (NOMA) era, supporting extra units in a given space than current low-power extensive space networks.

The eMBB-oriented model of 5G to be had lately, known as the non-standalone structure, permits carriers to make use of current community belongings to introduce 5G spectrums and spice up capability. It’s no longer the model that’ll sooner or later continual our sensible factories and attached automobiles, nevertheless it does lend a hand bridge lately’s truth and the following day’s alternatives, that are going to require a whole lot of infrastructure paintings.

Standalone 5G, with its cloud-native 5G Core and community reducing capability, is foundational to enabling the era’s 3 use circumstances. This subsequent section of 5G is an eventuality—without a doubt about that. However it’s nonetheless in a trying out section and gained’t even start rolling out till 2020. Getting ready now will make the transition more uncomplicated and assist you to get extra ROI out of your current WAN.

Getting the advantages of 5G in an LTE global

Figuring out the total 5G revel in isn’t going to contain flipping a transfer that makes all 3 use circumstances viable concurrently. In reality, a large number of the options integral to 5G are already elements of the most recent LTE requirements. It can be the case that appearing an improve lately will lend a hand with a transfer to 5G the following day.

“…gigabit-class LTE products and services in reality constitute, I might say, nearly 5G model zero.five, as a result of they begin to incorporate most of the identical foundational applied sciences as 5G,” mentioned Cradlepoint’s Krautkremer. “For instance, functions like 256-QAM—a modulation era, which is, ‘how the provider can stuff extra bits down a unmarried piece of spectrum.’ And four×four MIMO, which is, as we all know from the Wi-Fi global, ‘how can I am getting extra bits within the air from the brink instrument to the tower.’ Then now we have provider aggregation or CA, which takes us again to the inverse multiplexing days of, ‘how do I take a number of items of spectrum and mix them in combination to behave like one greater piece of spectrum?’ By way of leveraging those applied sciences inside gigabit LTE, carriers at the moment are ready to ship 150, 200, even 400 megabits in line with 2nd of mounted wi-fi and cellular connectivity on LTE networks.”

5g integration with 4g emf explained

Above: When a 5G connection is established, the Person Apparatus (or instrument) will hook up with each the 4G community to give you the keep watch over signaling and to the 5G community to lend a hand give you the speedy records connection through including to the prevailing 4G capability.

It’s going to take a little time for carriers to reach significant densification of millimeter wave radios, to get their backhaul able for 10 gigabits of wi-fi visitors, to refarm 3G and 4G spectrum, and to roll out multi-access edge computing for decrease latency. Companies looking forward to all that want extra connectivity, to strengthen video, backup, or extra endpoints. Fairly than looking forward to 5G to hide their complete footprint, present 4G answers are offering an intermediate step.

Krautkremer persisted, “The wonderful thing about it’s, now that 4G is being upgraded to have extra 5G-like efficiency functions with gigabit LTE, and 5G is beginning to deploy, corporations like Cradlepoint are telling consumers, ‘glance, we’ll put you at the pathway to 5G so you’ll be able to get 80% of the worth of 5G lately on a 4G gigabit LTE community for current programs that want quicker mounted wi-fi and cellular speeds.’ After which, as 5G turns into to be had to your community footprint and you need to benefit from it, we’re creating and participating on answers—whether or not it’s millimeter wave, mid-wave, or low-band—that may maintain your funding to your current router infrastructure and offers you entry to 5G when and the place you want it.”

The preservation Krautkremer is speaking about comes from community purposes virtualization (NFV) and a software-defined structure. Those ideas are integral to the deployment and control of 5G networks. They supplement every different, enabling variable 4G LTE or 5G workloads the usage of commonplace . That implies taking an off-the-shelf Xeon-based server and nearly spinning-up community products and services that will have in the past required single-purpose units and plenty of months of labor to deploy.

Making an investment in sensible foundations

In step with a white paper printed through A10 Networks, probably the most smartest investments you’ll be able to make into an current 4G community contain utility applied sciences that still lay the root for a 5G improve. Advanced community control gear are indexed because the single-most logical and cost-effective position to begin. A control and orchestration (MANO) framework, for instance,  offers you the versatility to deploy products and services as they transition from bodily home equipment to digital machines. Compute, garage, and networking sources turn into a lot more uncomplicated to transport and arrange.

The honour steadily made between 4G and 5G means that there’s an drawing close Giant Bang tournament poised to unfold next-gen protection all over the place. In truth, the transition goes to occur slowly, group through group, town through town. Within the interim, LTE and 5G will coexist. A few of lately’s most well liked modem-RF programs make that a lot transparent. In lately’s non-standalone model of 5G, which makes use of the keep watch over airplane of current LTE networks, they have got a connection to the 4G and 5G networks on the identical time, permitting you to dip out and in of 5G protection with out interrupting carrier.

“It in reality makes the purpose that 4G and 5G infrastructures are going to be round for a very long time, concluded Cradlepoint’s Krautkremer. “And that’s why carriers are upgrading their 4G infrastructure, to scale back the differential of functions between 4G and 5G in order that they may be able to be extra harmonious in combination than we’ve observed in any earlier evolution of wi-fi era.”

What is the Internet of Robotic Things all about?

9 Oct

Internet of Robotic Things, the confluence of the Internet of Things and robotics, is a concept where autonomous machines will gather data from multiple sensors (embedded and sourced) and communicate with each other to perform tasks involving critical thinking.

As the name implies, Internet of Robotic Things is the amalgamation of two cutting-edge technologies, the Internet of Things and Robotics. The vision behind this concept is to empower a robot with intelligence to execute critical tasks by itself. To comprehend this technology better, let’s first break it down to its components. The Internet of Things brings gives a digital heartbeat to physical objects.

And robotics is a branch of computer science and engineering that deals with machines that can work autonomously. And what actually happens when these two technologies unite? Internet of Robotic Things is a concept where IoT data helps machines interact with each other and take required actions. In simpler words, it refers to robots that communicate with other robots and take appropriate decisions on their own. Pervasive sensors, cameras, and actuators embedded in the surroundings and also self-help robots collect information in real-time.

Internet of Robotic Things : the importance

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Every business today is striving to gain a competitive edge in the market. And to achieve their set goals, leveraging the newest technologies is a must. Internet of Things and Robotics are two such technologies that have been known for their compelling use cases. And now, the IoT-robotics convergence promises to offer incredible applications to several industries. With the ability to get information from various sources and react accordingly, robots perform necessary functions without requiring human intervention. As a result, processes get streamlined and optimized. Consequently, businesses can seamlessly achieve work accuracy, productivity goals, and revenue benefits.

Internet of Robotic Things: the use cases

Internet of Robotic Things can be the perfect choice for industries that deal with heavy duty work or repetitive manual jobs. Let’s check out a few potential use cases through which industries can benefit from this newly emerged concept.

  • Robots at warehouses can inspect product quality, check for product damages, and also help with put-aways. Without humans playing any role, robots can analyze the surroundings with the IoT data and respond to situations as needed.
  • A robot can effectively play the role of a guidance officer and help customers with parking space availability. By checking the parking lots, robots can assist customers with the right place to park their vehicles.
  • Robots can automate the labor-intensive and life-threatening jobs at a construction site. Right from scaffolding to loading and unloading heavy construction equipment, robots can take care of every on-site task responsibly. With the help of intelligent robots, construction engineers and managers can ensure enhanced worker health and safety.

Realizing the importance and benefits of the Internet of Robotic Things, several forward-thinking companies are investing significantly in this technology. Industry behemoth, Amazon Robotics has deployed collaborative industrial robots to automate the activities in a warehouse fulfillment center. The MarketandMarkets report states the market of Internet of Robotic Things is expected to reach 21.44 billion US dollars by 2020. These numbers clearly reflect the promise of this technology,

09 10 19

How does 5G network slicing work, and what are the benefits?

21 Sep

5G network slicing promises the delivery of a new generation of high-speed services, including the transmission of 4K and augmented virtual reality apps to users’ cellphones.

Among its other capabilities, the 5G network supports slicing, a technique that divides a single physical network infrastructure into multiple virtual networks. Compared to existing 4G and LTE (Long Term Evolution) networks, 5G promises significant improvements in bandwidth and latency, making virtual network slices a possibility.

  • Enhanced mobile broadband. This high-bandwidth cellular service includes voice and SMS. Think of this as more bandwidth for your cellphone to enable applications like 4K video resolution and augmented virtual reality, which need throughputs of 10 Gbps and higher.
  • Ultra-reliable and low-latency communications. Autonomous vehicle inter-communications is the typical use, where fast, highly reliable communications between self-driving cars is required.
  • Massive machine-type communications. This includes IoT applications for wireless sensing and control devices, which might be found in a factory.

5G network slicing architecture is described further by the 5G Infrastructure Public-Private Partnership Architecture Working Group. The architecture uses a recursive, multi-tenant model in which an infrastructure provider’s physical network is divided into sub-networks.

Each sub-network is leased to mobile virtual network operators, which divide the allocated network into more specific sub-networks. Each sub-network in turn is bundled with cloud services encompassing compute and storage infrastructure to meet a specific circumstance (see image, “How 5G networking slicing works”).

Business purposes and applications dictate the mix of bandwidth, latency, resiliency, processing and storage required by each slice. Content distribution, IoT edge computing and network functions virtualization influence the mix of compute and storage within each slice.

How 5G network slicing works

5G network slicing links services to the resources required to enable those services, all on a distinct end-to-end network.

Slice control and management

5G network slicing management must include the ability to create, operate and delete slices. These steps must be automated for quick and accurate control. The same system abstractions are used in each layer, regardless of whether the underlay is based on physical infrastructure or a logical network slice, facilitating the use of automation for managing slices. In addition, automation allows IT to rapidly provision new slices and remove them when they are no longer needed.

Control and management systems will use common APIs to enable oversight of network slices, but physical infrastructure providers will still need dedicated tools to control and manage parts of the underlying physical infrastructure. While a virtualized network slice can detect and report network errors, it won’t be able to identify the physical infrastructure component that’s the culprit.

Network security is another consideration. There are trust issues between the delegated operator of a sub-network slice and the owner/operator of the parent slice. Traffic in a slice also has to be segregated from other slices, much like we have today with virtual routing and forwarding instances.

5G aggregation, or the opposite of slicing

Another offshoot of virtual slicing is 5G network aggregation. Consider a situation where a mobile network service supplier has to provide service that spans beyond a single physical infrastructure provider’s network. Perhaps one provider offers exceptional coverage in part of a city, while another offers equal coverage in other areas of the same city. An IoT sensor network slice used to monitor vehicle traffic flow could be built by aggregating slices from the two providers. This design would allow the IoT sensors to communicate directly with edge computing systems instead of being required to transport a larger volume of raw data all the way back to the application servers.

Network slicing brings a new twist to networking, and several vendors have showcased how the technology will work. The next step is to determine how it performs in the real world.

21 09 19

Employing AI to Enhance Returns on 5G Network Investments

13 Sep

Wireless 20/20 believes that AI will play a crucial role in helping operators to maximize returns on their 5G network investments. AI will open exciting opportunities for the mobile communications sector to proactively manage the costs of deploying and maintaining new 5G networks while helping to create a more personal approach for customers.

In October and November of 2018 Ericsson conducted an AI survey, showcasing service providers that have adopted AI to manage the costs of deploying and maintaining mobile communications networks while helping to create a more personal approach for managing customer relationships customers. The Ericsson Report concludes that that more than half of mobile operators—a total of 53%—expect to have adopted AI within their 5G networks by the end of 2020.

AI in 5G Network Planning and Performance Management

5G is expected to cover more than 40% of the world’s population, and total mobile data traffic is predicted to have increased by a factor of 5 by 2024. With the advent of 5G, service providers are making huge investments in their networks to enable the new use cases that 5G offers. Ericsson research reveals that wireless service providers around the world are presently at various stages on their journey with AI and 5G. Early adopters of AI among service providers will undoubtedly gain an advantage, as they will be well–placed to deal with new challenges that result from the proliferation of additional devices following the introduction of 5G. This is because the advent of 5G will make network topologies relatively complex, with small cells and new antennas making usage patterns more difficult for humans alone to predict, and current radio propagation models becoming more complex to compute as a result of new radio spectrum bands, denser topologies, Massive MIMO, and beamforming.

The Ericsson Report also reveals that AI is presently facilitating improvements ranging from simplifying network evolution to improving performance across existing networks. Most service providers are at the stage of testing AI, with 48% focusing on AI to reduce capital expenditures. Service providers believe the highest potential return from AI adoption will be in network planning (70%) while 64% intend to maximize their returns by focusing their AI adoption efforts on network performance management. The highest current focus of AI initiatives among wireless service providers worldwide is in service quality management (17%) and operational cost savings (16%). A further 41% are focusing on using AI for optimizing network performance, and 35% for new revenue streams. AI and machine learning will enable wireless network vendors to quickly process raw data and deliver analytical outcomes to help operators more rapidly recoup their 5G network investments.

AI Will Be Vital to 5G Customer Service

For service providers, AI offers opportunities to build solutions jointly with infrastructure providers, with a common goal to more effectively manage complexity and optimize network performance. Service providers around the world are observing improved reliability for customers as the area in which AI is currently having the greatest impact upon core network activities. The Ericsson survey demonstrates that AI is creating both benefits and challenges for service providers at the advent of 5G. Enhancing customer experience was identified by 55% of service providers as a key area where AI is presently having the greatest impact within core network activities. In addition, 68% of survey respondents highlighted enhancing customer service as a business and operational objective over the next 3 years. A further 72% agreed strongly that AI will be important in enabling monetization of new network technologies and providing a better service to customers. A wide range of operators are already beginning to enhance big data with AI to automate customer service with intelligent assistants and chatbots.

Many service providers are already concluding successful trials on using AI in their networks. Only 12% feel they have a detailed knowledge of AI’s application. However, 49% considered themselves to have a fairly detailed knowledge of AI application. More than half expect AI to be adopted in their networks before the end of 2020 (a total of 53% globally) and there is a general expectation (55% globally) that the benefits will be evident within 1 to 2 years.

AI to Deliver Optimal 5G User Experience

Ericsson is convinced that AI offers the best opportunity to achieve the high levels of automation necessary to optimize and manage the complexity of 5G system performance, allowing them a shift from managing networks to managing services. As 5G-enabled technologies develop, operators will need AI to augment the human capabilities to improve efficiency and manage their OPEX. Ericsson has introduced engineering solutions that combine AI, machine learning, and human ingenuity to enable networks to self-learn, self-optimize and deliver optimal user experience, allowing operator customers to capitalize on the opportunities of 5G. Ericsson believes that AI and machine learning will be crucial to the evolution of 5G network automation, IoT and industrial digitalization.

AI and 5G in Europe

Vodafone is one Ericsson customer that is leading the industry in using AI in radio networks, because of the pioneering work between Ericsson and the operator’s Networks Centre of Excellence. Vodafone and Ericsson are collaborating to develop advanced AI and Machine Learning algorithms. One use case is for Vodafone to improve MIMO energy management at radio sites by putting radio transmitters into power-saving Sleep Mode when traffic falls below certain levels and then re-activate them automatically when traffic surges. Vodafone has deployed 5G in seven UK cities, including London. Backed by its largest ever capital investment in partnership with Ericsson, Vodafone is enabling Londoners to access the new ultra-fast 5G network without any limits based on new unlimited data plans. Vodafone will provide comprehensive 5G coverage in London, leveraging the latest Ericsson Radio System portfolio, including the latest Baseband 6630 and Massive MIMO 6488 products to enable 5G using the 3.5GHz frequency. Combined with LTE, this will achieve speeds up to 10 times faster than 4G for 5G users with much lower latency. Vodafone Spain recently launched 5G services in three cities operating in the 3.7 GHz band utilizing Ericsson products and solutions. Vodafone and Ericsson have also launched a commercial 5G network in Germany with the goal of bringing 5G to 20 million people in over 20 cities by the end of 2021. Vodafone Business and IBM will also supply enterprise customers with managed services in the areas of cloud and hosting and will work together to build and deliver solutions in areas like AI, cloud, 5G, IoT, and software-defined networking.

AI and 5G in the US

AT&T and Tech Mahindra are collaborating to build an open source artificial intelligence (AI) platform called Acumos, which will make it easy to build, share, and deploy AI applications. The Acumos AI Marketplace is an extensible framework for machine learning solutions which provides the capability to edit, integrate, compose, package, train, and deploy AI microservices. By getting developers and businesses to collaborate effectively, AT&T will industrialize the deployment of AI at enterprises to deliver tangible value and solve real business problems. AT&T has used the model of moving its own technology into the open source community to engage developers and accelerate the development of the platform. AT&T is collaborating with Tech Mahindra and to make AI simpler to improve adoption and help enable enterprises apply AI to reimagine business models, unlock the potential of data and drive business outcomes. Tech Mahindra has now expanded this strategic collaboration to assume management of many of the applications which support AT&T’s network and shared systems. The goal is to accelerate AT&T’s IT network application, shared systems modernization, and movement to the cloud. This partnership should significantly boost AT&T’s 5G time-to-market and simultaneously reduce their cost of ownership by automating aspects of their network lifecycle. Manish Vyas, President, Communications, Media and Entertainment Business and the CEO, Network, Tech Mahindra will present the Acumos Project on October 25 in Track 12 at AI World.

T-Mobile is also leveraging AI and machine learning to completely overhaul and accelerate the automation of its customer service operations in the US. T-Mobile is using the predictive capabilities of AI and machine learning to augment human abilities and reshape its customer service. T-Mobile customers immediately connect with a live customer service agent that knows them, rather than talking to an IVR or chatbot. With the help of AI, these customer service agents can quickly access the information most salient to customer needs. These AI-driven customer care initiatives will be critical as T-Mobile prepares to deliver nationwide 5G using a mix of wireless spectrum. T-Mobile plans to introduce standalone 5G in 2020 and recently accomplished the world’s first standalone 5G data session on a multi-vendor 5G next generation radio access and core network—and the first standalone 5G data session of any kind in North America. However, T-Mobile has placed some of its 5G network deployment efforts on hold amid regulatory delays in its pending Sprint merger.

Verizon plans to invest between $17 billion and $18 billion in capital expenditure as it builds out 5G networks and launches 5G services in 30 markets based on millimeter wave spectrum in 2019. During Track 12 at AI World, Verizon speakers will discuss efforts to leverage 5G, AI and Mobile Edge Computing, with the aim to have some commercial services on this infrastructure by late 2019. By installing IT and network-processing resources in data centers at the network edge, instead of in the centralized facilities where they are normally found, operators could shorten the journey for a data signal and reduce latency. Verizon is confident it will be able to cut latency by at least 80% through investment in 5G technology and the rollout of new “edge” architecture. Verizon is testing a cloud gaming platform and this latency reduction could lead to new service opportunities in areas such as virtual-reality gaming services and self-driving cars.

Verizon is also enhancing its portfolio of managed services with an AI-powered toolkit for improving 5G customer experience outcomes. Verizon has made a large investment in AI and machine learning technologies and uses advanced predictive analytics algorithms to deliver “Digital Customer Experience” offerings for businesses. Verizon’s new Digital Customer Experience platform combines four AI-powered components to improve customer support outcomes: virtual agent, live agent, knowledge assist, and social engagement. Verizon believes the use of AI in customer service is likely to increase in the near future and is integrating AI into its existing customer support pipeline, providing virtual assistance 24/7 via social media, chat services, email, text message, or phone, with support experiences based on past interactions. Verizon’s Virtual Agent platform incorporates AI to solve customer challenges on the spot and escalates users to human support agents when presented with a situation in which it is unable to help. The Knowledge Assist component combines authoring tools with machine learning to provide relevant answers and guidance for agents.

Ericsson Survey Methodology

This Ericsson report provides unique insights into the increasing need for relevant data about how service providers plan to integrate AI in to their 5G networks, based on a global comparison of high-level business objectives. This Ericsson survey was based on telephone interviews conducted by Coleman Parkes Research with 165 senior executives from 132 mobile communications service providers globally. The respondents were segmented into six categories based on function: Chief Technology Officers (CTOs), Chief Operating Officers (COOs), Chief Information Officers (CIOs), Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs), Chief Financial Officers (CFOs), and Line of Business (LOB) managers. Mapping the response of 165 executives from 132 mobile operators across the globe, the report provides valuable insights about the reasoning and expectations of using AI applications across 5G networks.

machine-learning-and-ai-aw-screen (Ericsson report)


Service exposure: a critical capability in a 5G world

2 Sep

Exposure – and service exposure in particular – will be critical to the creation of the programmable networks that businesses need to communicate efficiently with Internet of Things (IoT) devices, handle edge loads and pursue the myriad of new commercial opportunities in the 5G world.

While service exposure has played a notable role in previous generations of mobile technology – by enabling roaming, for example, and facilitating payment and information services over the SMS channel – its role in 5G will be much more prominent.

The high expectations on mobile networks continue to rise, with never-ending requests for higher bandwidth, lower latency, increased predictability and control of devices to serve a variety of applications and use cases. At the same time, we can see that industries such as health care and manufacturing have started demanding more customized connectivity to meet the needs of their services. While some of these demands can be met through improved network connectivity capabilities, there are other areas where those improvements alone will not be sufficient.

For example, in recent years, content delivery networks (CDNs) have been used in situations where deployments within the operator network became a necessity to address requirements like high bandwidth. More recently, however, new use-case categories in areas such as augmented reality (AR)/virtual reality (VR), automotive and Industry 4.0 have made it clear that computing resources need to be accessible at the edge of the network. This development represents a great opportunity for operators, enterprises and application developers to introduce and capitalize on new services. The opportunity also extends to web-scale providers (Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Alibaba and so on) that have invested in large-scale and distributed cloud infrastructure deployments on a global scale, thereby becoming the mass-market provider of cloud services.

Several web-scale providers have already started providing on-premises solutions (a combination of full-stack solutions and software-only solutions) to meet the requirements of certain use cases. However, the ability to expand the availability of web-scale services toward the edge of the operator infrastructure would make it possible to tackle a multitude of other use cases as well. Such a scenario is mutually beneficial because it allows the web-scale providers to extend the reach of services that benefit from being at the edge of the network (such as the IoT and CDNs), while enabling telecom operators to become part of the value chain of the cloud computing market.

Figure 1: Collaboration with web-scale providers on telecom distributed clouds

Figure 1: Collaboration with web-scale providers on telecom distributed clouds

Figure 1 illustrates how a collaboration with web-scale providers on telecom distributed clouds could be structured. We are currently exploring a partnership to enable system integrators and developers to deploy web-scale player application platforms seamlessly on telecom distributed clouds. Distributed cloud abstraction on the web-scale player marketplace encompasses edge compute, latency and bandwidth guarantee and mobility. Interworking with IoT software development kits (SDKs) and device management provides integration with provisioning certificate handling services and assignment to distributed cloud tenant breakout points.

In the mid to long term, service exposure will be critical to the success of solutions that rely on edge computing, network slicing and distributed cloud. Without it, the growing number of functions, nodes, configurations and individual offerings that those solutions entail represents a significant risk of increased operational expenditure. The key benefit of service exposure in this respect is that it makes it possible to use application programming interfaces (APIs) to connect automation flows and artificial intelligence (AI) processes across organizational, technology, business-to-business (B2B) and other borders, thereby avoiding costly manual handling. AI and analytics-based services are particularly good candidates for exposure and external monetization.

Key enablers

The 5G system architecture specified by 3GPP has been designed to support a wide range of use cases based on key requirements such as high bandwidth/throughput, massive numbers of connected devices and ultra-low latency. For example, enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) will provide peak data rates above 10Gbps, while massive machine-type communications (mMTC) can support more than 1 million connections per square kilometer. Ultra-reliable low-latency communications (uRLLC) guarantees less than 1ms latency.

Fulfilling these eMBB, mMTC and uRLLC requirements necessitates significant changes to both the RAN and the core network. One of the most significant changes is that the core network functions (NFs) in the 5G Core (5GC) interact with each other using a Service-based Architecture (SBA). It is this change that enables the network programmability, thereby opening up new opportunities for growth and innovation beyond simply accelerating connectivity.

Service-based Architecture

The SBA of the 5GC network makes it possible for 5GC control plane NFs to expose Service-based Interfaces (SBIs) and act as service consumers or producers. The NFs register their services in the network repository function, and services can then be discovered by other NFs. This enables a flexible deployment, where every NF allows the other authorized NFs to access the services, which provides tremendous flexibility to consume and expose services and capabilities provided by 5GC for internal or external third parties. This support of the services subscription makes it completely different to the 4G/5G Evolved Packet Core network.

Because it is service-driven, SBA enables new service types and supports a wide variety of diversified service types associated with different technical requirements. 5G provides the SBI for different NFs (for example via SBI HTTP/2 Restful APIs). The SBI can be used to address the diverse service types and highly demanding performance requirements in an efficient way. It is an enabler for short time to market and cloud-native web-scale technologies.

The 3GPP is now working on conceptualizing 5G use cases toward industry verticals. Many use cases can be created on-demand as a result of the SBA.

Distributed cloud infrastructure

The ability to deploy network slices – an important aspect of 5G – in an automated and on-demand manner requires a distributed cloud infrastructure. Further, the ability to run workloads at the edge of the network requires the distributed cloud infrastructure to be available at the edge. What this essentially means is that distributed cloud deployments within the operator network will be an inherent part of the introduction of 5G. The scale, growth rate, distribution and network depth (how far out in the network edge) of those deployments will vary depending on the telco network in question and the first use cases to be introduced.

As cloud becomes a natural asset of the operator infrastructure with which to host NFs and services (such as network slicing), the ability to allow third parties to access computing resources in this same infrastructure is an obvious next step. Contrary to the traditional cloud deployments of the web-scale players, however, computing resources within the operator network will be scarcer and much more geographically distributed. As a result, resources will need to be used much more efficiently, and mechanisms will be needed to hide the complexity of the geographical distribution of resources.

Cloud-native principles

The adoption of cloud-native implementation principles is necessary to achieve the automation, optimized resource utilization and fast, low-cost introduction of new services that are the key features of a dynamic and constrained ecosystem. Cloud-native implementation principles dictate that software must be broken down into smaller, more manageable pieces as loosely coupled stateless services and stateful backing services. This is usually achieved by using a microservice architecture, where each piece can be individually deployed, scaled and upgraded. In addition, microservices communicate through well-defined and version-controlled network-based interfaces, which simplifies integration with exposure.

Three types of service exposure

There are three main types of service exposure in a telecom environment:

  • network monitoring
  • network control and configuration
  • payload interfaces.

Examples of network monitoring service exposure include network publishing information as real-time statuses, event streams, reports, statistics, analytic insights and so on. This also includes read requests to the network.

Service exposure for network control and configuration involves requesting control services that directly interact with the network traffic or request configuration changes. Configuration can also include the upload of complete virtual network functions (VNFs) and applications.

Examples of service-exposure-enabled payload interfaces include messaging and local breakout, but it should be noted that many connectivity/payload interfaces bypass service exposure for legacy reasons. Even though IP connectivity to devices is a service that is exposed to the consumer, for example, it is currently not achieved via service exposure. The main benefit of adding service exposure would be to make it possible to interact with the data streams through local breakout for optimization functions.

Leveraging software development kits

At Ericsson, we are positioning service exposure capabilities in relation to developer workflows and practices. Developers are the ones who use APIs to create solutions, and we know they rely heavily on SDKs. There are currently advanced developer frameworks for all sorts of advanced applications including drones, AR/VR, the IoT, robotics and gaming. Beyond the intrinsic value in exposing native APIs, an SDK approach also creates additional value in terms of enabling the use of software libraries, integrated development environments (IDEs) plug-ins, third-party provider (3PP) cloud platform extensions and 3PP runtimes on edge sites, as well as cloud marketplaces to expose these capabilities.

Software libraries can be created by prepackaging higher-level services such as low-latency video streaming and reverse charging. This can be achieved, for example, by using the capabilities of network exposure functions (NEF) and service capability exposure functions (SCEF), creating ready-to-deploy functions or containers that can be distributed through open repositories, or even marketplaces, in some cases. This possibility is highly relevant for edge computing frameworks.

Support for IDE plug-ins eases the introduction of 3PP services with just a few additional clicks. Selected capabilities within 3PP cloud platform extensions can also create value by extending IoT device life-cycle management (LCM) for cellular connected devices, for example. The automated provisioning of popular 3PP edge runtimes on telco infrastructure enables 3PP runtimes on edge sites.

Finally, cloud marketplaces are an ideal place to expose all of these capabilities. The developer subscribes to certain services through their existing account, gaining the ability to activate a variety of libraries, functions and containers, along with access to plug-ins they can work with and/or the automated provisioning required for execution.

Functional architecture for service exposure

The functional architecture for service exposure is built around four customer scenarios:

  • internal consumers
  • business-to-consumers (B2C)
  • business-to-business (B2B)
  • business-to-business-to-business/consumers (B2B2X).

In the case of internal consumers, applications for monitoring, optimization and internal information sharing operate under the control and ownership of the enterprise itself. In the case of B2C, consumers directly use services via web or app support. B2C examples include call control and self-service management of preferences and subscriptions. The B2B scenario consists of partners that use services such as messaging and IoT communication to support their business. The B2B2X scenario is made up of more complex value chains such as mobile virtual network operators, web scale, gaming, automotive and telco cloud through web-scale APIs.

Figure 2: Functional architecture for service exposure

Figure 2: Functional architecture for service exposure

Figure 2 illustrates the functional architecture for service exposure. It is divided into three layers that each act as a framework for the realization. Domain-specific functionality and knowledge are applied and added to the framework as configurations, scripts, plug-ins, models and so on. For example, the access control framework delivers the building blocks for specializing the access controls for a specific area.

The abstraction and resource layer is responsible for communicating with the assets. If some assets are located outside the enterprise – at a supplier or partner facility in a federation scenario, for example – B2B functionality will also be included in this layer.

The business and service logic layer is responsible for transformation and composition – that is, when there is a need to raise the abstraction level of a service to create combined services.

The exposed service execution APIs and exposed management layer are responsible for making the service discoverable and reachable for the consumer. This is done through the API gateway, with the support of portal, SDK and API management.

Business support systems (BSS) and operations support systems (OSS) play a double role in this architecture. Firstly, they serve as resources that can expose their values – OSS can provide analytics insights, for example, and BSS can provide “charging on behalf of” functionality. At the same time, OSS are responsible for managing service exposure in all assurance, configuration, accounting, performance, security and LCM aspects, such as the discovery, ordering and charging of a service.

One of the key characteristics of the architecture presented in Figure 2 is that the service exposure framework life cycle is decoupled from the exposed services, which makes it possible to support both short- and long-tail exposed services. This is realized through the inclusion and exposure of new services through configuration, plug-ins and the possibility to extend the framework.

Another key characteristic to note is that it is possible to deploy common exposure functions both in a distributed way and individually – in combination with other microservices for efficiency reasons, for example. Typical cases are distributed cloud with edge computing and web-scale scenarios such as download/upload/streaming where the edge site and terminal are involved in the optimization.

The exposure framework is realized as a set of loosely connected components, all of which are cloud-native compliant and microservice based, running in containers. There is not a one-size-fits-all deployment – some of the components are available in several variants to fit different scenarios. For example, components in the API gateway support B2B scenarios with full charging but there are also scaled-down versions that only support reporting, intended for deployment in internal exposure scenarios.

Other key properties of the service exposure framework are:

  • scalability (configurable latency and scalable throughput) to support different deployments
  • diversified API types for payload/connectivity, including messaging APIs (request-response and/or subscribe-notify type), synchronous, asynchronous, streaming, batch, upload/download and so on
  • multiple interface bindings such as restful, streaming and legacy
  • multivendor and partner support (supplier/federation/aggregator/web-scale value chains)
  • security and access control functionality.

Deployment examples

Service exposure can be deployed in a multitude of locations, each with a different set of requirements that drive modularity and configurability needs. Figure 3 illustrates a few examples.

Figure 3: Service exposure deployment (dark pink boxes indicate deployed components)

Figure 3: Service exposure deployment (dark pink boxes indicate deployed components)

In the case of Operator B in Figure 3, service exposure is deployed to expose services in a full B2B context. BSS integration and support is required to handle all commercial aspects of the exposure and LCM of customers, contracts, orders, services and so on, along with charging and billing. Operator B also uses the deployed B2B commercial support to acquire services from a supplier.

In the case of Operator A, service exposure is deployed both at the central site and at the edge site to meet latency or payload requirements. Services are only exposed to Operator A’s own applications/VNFs, which limits the need for B2B support. However, due to the fact that Operator A hosts some applications for an external partner, both centrally and at the edge, full B2B support must be deployed for the externally owned apps.

The aggregator in Figure 3 deploys the service exposure required to create services put together by more than one supplier. Unified Delivery Network and web-scale integration both fall into this category. As exposure to the consumer is done through the aggregator, this also serves as a B2B interface to handle specific requirements. Examples of this include the advertising and discovery of services via the portals of web-scale providers.

A subset of B2B support is also deployed to provide the service exposure that handles the federation relationship between Operator A and Operator B, in which both parties are on the same level in the ecosystem value chain.


There are several compelling reasons for telecom operators to extend and modernize their service exposure solutions as part of the rollout of 5G. One of the key ones is the desire to meet the rapidly developing requirements of use cases in areas such as the Internet of Things, AR/VR, Industry 4.0 and the automotive sector, which will depend on operators’ ability to provide computing resources across the whole telco domain, all the way to the edge of the mobile network. Service exposure is a key component of the solution to enable these use cases.

Recent advances in the service exposure area have resulted from the architectural changes introduced in the move toward 5G and the adoption of cloud-native principles, as well as the combination of Service-based Architecture, microservices and container technologies. As operators begin to use 5G technology to automate their networks and support systems, service exposure provides them with the additional benefit of being able to use automation in combination with AI to attract partners that are exploring new, 5G-enabled business models. Web-scale providers are also showing interest in understanding how they can offer their customers an easy extension toward the network edge.

Modernized service exposure solutions are designed to enable the communication and control of devices, providing access to processes, data, networks and OSS/BSS assets in a secure, predictable and reliable manner. They can do this both internally within an operator organization and externally to a third party, according to the terms of a Service Level Agreement and/or a model for financial settlement.

Service exposure is an exciting and rapidly evolving area and Ericsson is playing an active role in its ongoing development. As a complement to our standardization efforts within the 3GPP and Industry 4.0 forums, we are also engaged in open-source communities such as ONAP (the Open Network Automation Platform). This work is important because we know that modernized service exposure solutions will be at heart of efficient, innovative and successful operator networks.


VMware bets big on 5G, expands Cloud portfolio for telcos

28 Aug
With an eye on the growth 5G technology will bring to the world of telecommunication, enterprise software major VMware has expanded its telco and Edge Cloud portfolio to drive real-time intelligence for the industry, along with improved automation and security for the Internet of Things (IoT) apps.

VMware bets big on 5G, expands Cloud portfolio for telcosSAN FRANCISCO:With an eye on the growth 5G technology will bring to the world of telecommunication, enterprise software major VMwarehas expanded its telco and Edge Cloud portfolio to drive real-time intelligence for the industry, along with improved automation and security for the Internet of Things (IoT) apps.

Serving as a key infrastructure provider for most communications service providers and enterprise customers, VMware is focused on enabling them deploy and monetise their 4G and 5G network investments through an expanded set of use cases targeting enterprise customers.

According to Shekar Ayyar, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Telco and Edge Cloud, VMware, the 5G networks will deliver unprecedented levels of speed and ultra-low latency, resulting in new use cases for telco and Edge Clouds.

“Communication service providers (CSPs) and enterprises will benefit from the multi-Cloud interoperability, uniformity in architecture and consistency in policies across private, public, telco and Edge clouds provided by VMware,” he emphasized.

“Carriers have largely missed the boat on the Cloud revolution, but with 5G, it actually gives them a new entry point to come in and reassert themselves in this architecture and play a role in the next generation Cloud architecture,” Ayyar told reporters at the “VMworld 2019” conference here.

Building on the firm’s commitment to IoT and Edge, VMware’s new release of “Pulse IoT Centre 2.0” on-premises will complement the previously released Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) version, thus, providing its customers with flexibility and choice of deployment options.

The company announced the closure of its acquisition of “Uhana” — which is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) — based solution for tuning radio access networks (RANs).

“Uhana” has built a real-time deep learning engine to optimise the quality of telco network experience.

VMware also announced the next release of its OpenStack solution — “VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIO) 6.0” — and the on-premises version of Pulse IoT Center.

With the rollout of 5G apps, service quality is becoming a key differentiator in the ability for CSPs to meet competitive pressures and reduce churn of consumer and enterprise customers.

This imperative will be even more important with the increasing virtualisation of RANs and core networks through technologies like network functions virtualisation (NFV), SD-WAN and the adoption of e-SIMs on mobile and IoT devices.

“The addition of AI-based learning capabilities from our Uhana acquisition, telco and Edge Clouds will become significantly smarter in their capability to provide better service and remediate and correct faults quicker,” said Ayyar.


5G mobile networks: A cheat sheet

17 Aug

As LTE networks become increasingly saturated, mobile network operators are planning for the 5G future. Here is what business professionals and mobile users need to know about 5G networks.

What is 5G?

5G refers to the fifth generation of mobile phone networks. Since the introduction of the first standardized mobile phone network in 1982, succeeding standards have been adopted and deployed approximately every nine years. GSM, the 2nd generation wireless network, was first deployed in 1992, while a variety of competing 3G standards began deployment in 2001. The 4G LTE wireless technology standard was deployed by service providers in 2010. Now, technology companies and mobile network operators are actively deploying 5G cellular networks around the world for new mobile devices. These 5G deployments accompany transitional LTE technologies such as LTE Advanced and LTE Advanced Pro, which are used by network operators to provide faster speeds on mobile devices.

Principally, 5G refers to “5G NR (New Radio),” which is the standard adopted by 3GPP, an international cooperative responsible for the development of the 3G UMTS and 4G LTE standards. Other 5G technologies do exist. Verizon’s 5G TF network operates on 28 and 39 GHz frequencies, and is used only for fixed wireless broadband services, not in smartphones. Verizon’s 5G TF deployments were halted in December 2018, and will be transitioned to 5G NR in the future. Additionally, 5G SIG was used by KT for a demonstration deployment during the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

5G NR allows for networks to operate on a wide variety of frequencies, including the frequencies vacated by decommissioning previous wireless communications networks. The 2G DCS frequency bands, the 3G E-GSM and PCS frequency bands, and the digital dividend of spectrum vacated by the transition to digital TV broadcasts are some of the bands available for use in 5G NR.

5G standards divide frequencies into two groups: FR1 (450 MHz – 6 GHz) and FR2 (24 GHz – 52 GHz). Most early deployments will be in the FR1 space. Research is ongoing into using FR2 frequencies, which are also known as extremely high frequency (EHF) or millimeter wave (mmWave) frequencies. Discussions of the suitability of millimeter wave frequencies have been published in IEEE journals as far back as 2013.

Millimeter wave frequencies allow for faster data speeds, though they do come with disadvantages. Because of the short distance of communication, millimeter wave networks have a much shorter range; for densely-populated areas, this requires deploying more base stations (conversely, this makes it well suited to densely-populated places such as arenas and stadiums). While this would be advantageous in certain use cases, it would be a poor fit for use in rural areas. Additionally, millimeter wave communication can be susceptible to atmospheric interference. Effects such as rain fade make it problematic for outdoor use, though even nearby foliage can disrupt a signal.

Tests of early 5G mmWave networks by sister site CNET surfaced a number of performance problems, with the Moto Z3Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, and LG V50 depleting their battery faster than on 4G networks. In the case of the Moto Z3—which uses a pogo-pin connected Moto Mod add-on to deliver 5G—four hours of testing completely drained the battery in the attachment; the use of sub-6 GHz 5G networks is expected to lessen this effect. Likewise, increased efficiency in Qualcomm’s upcoming Snapdragon X55 modem will alleviate some performance issues.

It is vital to remember that 5G is not an incremental or backward-compatible update to existing mobile communications standards. It does not overlap with 4G standards like LTE or WiMAX, and it cannot be delivered to existing phones, tablets, or wireless modems by means of tower upgrades or software updates, despite AT&T’s attempts to brand LTE Advanced as “5G E.”While upgrades to existing LTE infrastructure are worthwhile and welcome advances, these are ultimately transitional 4G technologies and do not provide the full range of benefits of 5G NR.

For an overview of when 5G smartphones are being released, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of 5G smartphones, check out TechRepublic’s cheat sheet about 5G smartphones.

What constitutes 5G technology?

For mobile network operators, the 3GPP has identified three aspects for which 5G should provide meaningful advantages over existing wireless mobile networks. These three heterogenous service types will coexist on the same infrastructure using network slicing, allowing network operators to create multiple virtual networks with differing performance profiles for differing service needs.

eMBB (Enhanced Mobile Broadband)

Initial deployments of 5G NR focused on eMBB, which provides greater bandwidth, enabling improved download and upload speeds, as well as moderately lower latency compared to 4G LTE. eMBB will be instrumental in enabling rich media applications such as mobile AR and VR, 4K and 360° video streaming, and edge computing.

URLLC (Ultra Reliable Low-Latency Communications)

URLLC is targeted toward extremely latency sensitive or mission-critical use cases, such as factory automation, robot-enabled remote surgery, and driverless cars. According to a white paper (PDF link) by Mehdi Bennis, Mérouane Debbah, and H. Vincent Poor of the IEEE, URLLC should target 1ms latency and block error rate (BLER) of 10−9 to 10−5, although attaining this “represents one of the major challenges facing 5G networks,” as it “introduces a plethora of challenges in terms of system design.”

Technologies that enable URLLC are still being standardized; these will be published in 3GPP Release 16, scheduled for mid-2020.

mMTC (Massive Machine Type Communications)

mMTC is a narrowband access type for sensing, metering, and monitoring use cases. Some mMTC standards that leverage LTE networks were developed as part of 3GPP Release 13, including eMTC (Enhanced Machine-Type Communication) and NB-IoT (Narrowband IoT). These standards will be used in conjunction with 5G networks, and extended to support the demands of URLLC use cases on 5G networks and frequencies in the future.

The ways in which 5G technologies will be commercialized are still being debated and planned among mobile network operators and communications hardware vendors. As different groups have differing priorities, interests, and biases, including spectrum license purchases made with the intent of deploying 5G networks, the advantages of 5G will vary between different geographical markets and between consumer and enterprise market segments. While many different attributes are under discussion, 5G technology may consist of the following (the attributes are listed in no particular order).

Proactive content caching

Particularly for millimeter wave 5G networks, which require deploying more base stations compared to LTE and previous communications standards, those base stations in turn require connections to wired backhauls to transmit data across the network. By providing a cache at the base station, access delays can be minimized, and backhaul load can be reduced. This has the added benefit of reducing end-to-end delay. As 4K video streaming services—and smartphones with 4K screens—become more widespread, this caching capability will be important to improve quality of service.

Multiple-hop networks and device-to-device communication

In LTE networks, cellular repeaters and femtocells bridge gaps in areas where signal strength from traditional base stations is inadequate to serve the needs of customers. These can be in semi-rural areas where population density complicates serving customers from one base station, as well as in urban areas where architectural design obstructs signal strength. Using multiple-hop networks in 5G extends the cooperative relay concept by leveraging device-to-device communication to increase signal strength and availability.

Seamless vertical handover

Although proposals for 5G position it as the “one global standard” for mobile communications, allowing devices to seamlessly switch to a Wi-Fi connection, or fall back to LTE networks without delay, dropped calls, or other interruptions, is a priority for 5G.

Who does 5G benefit?

Remote workers / off-site job locations

One of the major focuses of 5G is the ability to use wireless networks to supplant traditional wireline connections by increasing data bandwidth available to devices and minimizing latency. For telecommuters, this greatly increases flexibility in work locations, allowing for cost-effective communication with your office, without being tied to a desk in a home office with a wireline connection.

For situations that involve frequently changing off-site job locations, such as location movie shoots or construction sites, lower technical requirements for 5G deployment allow for easily set up a 5G connection to which existing devices can connect to a 5G router via Wi-Fi. For scenes of live breaking news, 5G technologies can be used to supplant the traditional satellite truck used to transmit audio and video back to the newsroom. Spectrum formerly allocated to high-speed microwave satellite links has been repurposed for 5G NR communication.

Internet of Things (IoT) devices

One priority for the design of 5G networks is to lower barriers to network connectivity for IoT devices. While some IoT devices (e.g., smartwatches) have LTE capabilities, the practical limitations of battery sizes that can be included in wearable devices and the comparatively high power requirements of LTE limit the usefulness of mobile network connectivity in these situations. Proposals for 5G networks focusing on reducing power requirements, and the use of lower-power frequencies such as 600 MHz, will make connecting IoT devices more feasible.

Smart cities, office buildings, arenas, and stadiums

The same properties that make 5G technologies a good fit for IoT devices can also be used to improve the quality of service for situations in which large numbers of connected devices make extensive use of the mobile network in densely populated areas. These benefits can be realized easily in situations with variable traffic—for instance, arenas and stadiums are generally only populated during sporting events, music concerts, and other conventions. Large office towers, such as the 54-story Mori Tower in Tokyo’s Roppongi Hills district, are where thousands of employees work during the week. Additionally, densely populated city centers can benefit from the ability of 5G networks to provide service to more devices in physically smaller spaces.

When and where are 5G rollouts happening?

Early technical demonstrations

The first high-profile 5G rollout was at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. KT (a major mobile network operator) Samsung, and Intel collaborated to deliver gigabit-speed wireless broadband, and low-latency live streaming video content. During the games, 100 cameras were positioned inside the Olympic Ice Arena, which transmitted the video to edge servers, then to KT’s data center to be processed into “time-sliced views of the athletes in motion,” and then transmitted back to 5G-connected tablets for viewing. This demonstration used prototype 5G SIG equipment, which is distinct from the standardized 5G NR hardware and networks being commercialized worldwide.

Similarly, Intel and NTT Docomo have announced a partnership to demonstrate 5G technology at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. The companies will use 5G networks for 360-degree, 8K-video streaming, drones with HD cameras, and smart city applications, including “pervasive facial recognition, useful for everything from stadium access to threat reduction.”

Other 5G tests and rollouts have occurred worldwide. Ericsson and Intel deployed a 5G connection to connect Tallink cruise ships to the Port of Tallinn in Estonia. Huawei and Intel demonstrated 5G interoperability tests at Mobile World Congress 2018. In China, ZTE conducted tests in which the company achieved speeds in excess of 19 Gbps on a 3.5 GHz base station. Additionally, in tests of high-frequency communications, ZTE exceeded 13 Gbps using a 26 GHz base station, and a latency of 0.416 ms in a third test for uRLLC.

Where is 5G available in the US?

Verizon Wireless deployed mmWave-powered 5G, marketed as “Ultra Wideband (UWB),” in Chicago, IL and Minneapolis, MN on April 3, 2019; in Denver, CO on June 27, 2019; in Providence, RI on July 1, 2019; in St. Paul, MN on July 18, 2019; and in Atlanta, GA, Detroit, MI, Indianapolis, IN, and Washington, DC on July 31, 2019.

Future deployments of Verizon’s 5G services have been announced for Boston, MA, Charlotte, NC, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus, OH, Dallas, TX, Des Moines, IA, Houston, TX, Little Rock, AR, Memphis, TN, Phoenix, AZ, Providence, RI, San Diego, CA, and Salt Lake City, UT, as well as Kansas City, by the end of 2019.

Verizon Wireless started deployments of its 5G fixed wireless internet service on October 1, 2018 in Los Angeles and Sacramento, CA, Houston, TX, and Indianapolis, IN. Verizon’s initial 5G network deployments use its proprietary 5G TF hardware, though the company plans to transition these networks to 5G NR in the future. Verizon’s 5G TF network is only used for home internet service, not in smartphones.

AT&T has active 5G deployments in Atlanta, GA, Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Waco, TX, Charlotte, NC, Indianapolis, IN, Jacksonville and Orlando, FL, Las Vegas, NV, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose, CA, Louisville, KY, Nashville, TN, New Orleans, LA, New York City, NY, Oklahoma City, OK, and Raleigh, NC. Deployments have also been announced for Chicago, IL, Cleveland, OH, and Minneapolis, MN.

AT&T has deployed LTE Advanced nationwide; the company is marketing LTE Advanced as a “5G Evolution” network, though LTE-Advanced is not a 5G technology. AT&T has a history of mislabeling network technologies; the company previously advertised the transitional HSDPA network as 4G, though this is commonly considered to be an “enhanced 3G” or “3.5G” standard.

Sprint started deployments of 5G on May 30, 2019 in the Dallas / Ft. Worth and Houston, TX, Kansas City / Overland Park, KS, and Atlanta, GA metro areas. Sprint’s 5G networks run on 2.5 GHz, providing more widespread coverage throughout a region than is possible on line-of-sight mmWave connections, though with a modest decrease in speed compared to mmWave networks. Sprint activated 5G service in Chicago on July 11, 2019. The company has also announced plans to deploy 5G in Los Angeles, CA, New York, NY, Phoenix, AZ, and Washington, DC.

T-Mobile USA has active 5G services in Atlanta, GA and Cleveland, OH, with future plans to bring 5G services to Dallas, TX, Los Angeles, CA, Las Vegas, NV, and New York, NY. T-Mobile’s deployment is powered by Ericcson AIR 3246 modems, which support both 4G LTE and 5G NR. This equipment allows for 5G and LTE networks to be operated from the same equipment.

The purchase of Sprint by T-Mobile has been approved by the Justice Department, though a multi-state lawsuit is aiming to prevent the deal from proceeding. If the merger goes forward, “only the New T-Mobile will be able to deliver… real, game-changing 5G,” according to T-Mobile CEO John Legere in a June 2019 blog post. Following a merger, the New T-Mobile will have 600 MHz low-band, 2.5 GHz mid-band, and mmWave spectrum holdings, putting it at an advantage relative to AT&T and Verizon.

Where is 5G available in the UK?

EE debuted 5G services in Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London, and Manchester on May 30, 2019. Availability of 5G by the end of 2019 is planned for Bristol, Coventry, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham, and Sheffield. Availability of 5G in 2020 is planned for Aberdeen, Cambridge, Derby, Gloucester, Peterborough, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Southampton, Wolverhampton, and Worcester.

BT, which owns EE, is anticipated to deploy separate BT-branded 5G services in London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Cardiff, and Belfast in autumn 2019.

Vodafone provides 5G services in Birkenhead, Birmingham, Bolton, Bristol, Cardiff, Gatwick, Glasgow, Lancaster, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newbury, Plymouth, Stoke-on-Trent, and Wolverhampton at present, with deployments planned for Blackpool, Bournemouth, Guildford, Portsmouth, Reading, Southampton, and Warrington by the end of 2019.

Three will begin rollout of 5G services in London in August 2019, with services for Birmingham, Bolton, Bradford, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Coventry, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, Nottingham, Reading, Rotherham, Sheffield, Slough, Sunderland, and Wolverhampton expected before the end of the year.

Three and Vodafone do not charge a premium for 5G network services in the UK, compared to their rate plans for 4G.

O₂ announced availability of 5G services for Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London, Slough, and Leeds “from October 2019,” with plans to bring expand 5G services to “parts of 20 towns and cities, before rolling out to a total of 50 by summer 2020.”

Where is 5G available in Australia?

Optus has 100 5G-capable sites in service, and has pledged to build 1,200 by March 2020.

Telstra commenced rollout of 5G networks, starting with the Gold Coast in August 2018. Telstra services select neighborhoods in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Gold Coast, Hobart, Launceston, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, and Toowoomba.

Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN) operator has declared its intent to provide 5G fixed wireless internet access in a statement to ZDNet.

Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE have been banned by the Australian government from providing 5G networking equipment to mobile network operators due to national security concerns.

Where else in the world is 5G available?

South Korea was the first country to have a commercially available 5G network, with SK Telecom, KT, and LG Uplus activating 5G networks on April 3, 2019, two hours before Verizon Wireless activated 5G in the US, according to ZDNet’s Cho Mu-Hyun. By April 30, 2019, 260,000 subscribers in South Korea were using 5G networks. KT, the country’s second-largest mobile carrier, is working on deployments of in-building repeaters for use in crowded buildings such as airports and train stations.

5G is also seen as vital for economic development among Gulf states, with Saudi Arabia including 5G as part of the Vision 2030 economic development plan, and Qatari network operator Ooredoo claiming “the first commercially available 5G network in the world” on May 14, 2018, prior to the availability of smartphones that can use 5G.

Ookla maintains a map of 5G network services worldwide, with networks categorized into Commercial Availability, Limited Availability, and Pre-Release to demonstrate the extent of availability for each observed deployment.

How does a 5G future affect enterprises and mobile users?

As technology advances, older devices will inevitably reach end-of-life; in the mobile space, this is an outsized concern, as wireless spectrum is a finite resource. Much in the same way that the digital switchover occurred for over-the-air TV broadcasts, older mobile networks are actively being dismantled to free spectrum for next-generation networks, including transitional LTE Advanced, LTE Advanced Pro, and “true” 5G networks.

In the US, AT&T disabled its 2G network on January 1, 2017, rendering countless feature phones—as well as the original iPhone—unusable. Verizon plans to disable its legacy 2G and 3G networks by the end of 2019, which will render most feature phones and older smartphones unusable, as well as IoT devices such as water meters. Verizon stopped activations of 3G-only phones in July 2018. End-of-life plans for the 2G networks of Sprint and T-Mobile have not been publicly disclosed.

Additionally, as 5G is used increasingly to deliver wireless broadband, wireline broadband providers will face competition as the two services approach feature parity. With many people using smartphones both as their primary computing device and for tethering a traditional computer to the internet, the extra cost of a traditional wireline connection may become unnecessary for some people, and enable those outside the reach of traditional wireline connections to have affordable access to high-speed for the first time.

Business customers may also integrate 5G technology in proximity-targeted marketing. 5G’s reliance on microcells can be used as a secondary means of verification to protect against GPS spoofing, making proximity-targeted marketing resistant to abuse.

As 5G specifications are designed around the needs of businesses, the low-power and low-latency attributes are expected to spark a revolution in IoT deployments. According to Verizon Wireless President Ronan Dunne, 5G will enable the deployment of 20 billion IoT devices by 2020, leading to the creation of the “industrial internet,” affecting supply chain management, as well as agriculture and manufacturing industries. These same attributes also make 5G well suited to use cases that require continuous response and data analysis, such as autonomous vehicles, traffic control, and other edge computing use cases.


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