ECC Newsletter December 2016 - Special Edition on 5G

CEPT workshop on 5G - Useful food for thought

The CEPT Workshop on 5G was organised by the Electronic Communications Committee and took place over three days from 2-4 November 2016 at BNetzA, Mainz, Germany. It gathered approximately 150 participants, including delegates from CEPT members, from mobile industry, from vertical industries and from administrations outside Europe. It was organised in seven work sessions surrounded by the opening keynotes and a final panel session.

While the primary goal of the workshop was to contribute to the development of the CEPT roadmap for 5G as outlined in our previous article, it also offered the opportunity to gather in one single event a range of valuable information and views on the "healthy hype" around 5G.

This article focuses on industry views and information from outside Europe.

1. Listening to industry requirements

The introduction of 5G is set to revolutionise key industries throughout the world, from critical services to mobile communications and smart transport. 5G will bring multimedia into our everyday lives. It will improve augmented reality and automate industrial processes.

It was essential that the CEPT Workshop on 5G heard from industry. The second day of the workshop was mostly dedicated to hearing from a selection of providers, manufacturers and operators, who gave a fascinating insight into their requirements for 5G and how it will assist them in expanding their services. "5G is building on previous mobile communication generations but it will help in evolution of certain industries," said Michele Zarri, a representative of the mobile operators (GSMA).

Technology requirements and standardisation - status and challenges:

The first 5G specification in 3GPP Release 15 is planned to be available by September 2018, and will address the more pressing commercial needs. The second release, 3GPP Release 16, planned for March 2020, will address all-use cases and requirements. There is already some progress, with new radio access technology targeted for completion by June 2017.

It's not just industry that is making progress. Dr Werner Mohr of Nokia and the 5G Infrastructure Public Private Partnership (5GPP) said the deadline of 2020 has "created huge momentum globally in research and standards bodies" and encouraged "consensus building". "In our consortia, we have involved vendors, network operators, the research community, small and medium sized enterprises. These projects are not only involving European partners. We have partners also from North America, China, Japan and North Korea. That means these regions which have the biggest impacts in standards and regulatory bodies are also involved in these projects."

There are a number of technological challenges for both devices and infrastructure to achieve the performance aims of 5G. In 5G, the network will need to adapt to the application, so flexibility and configuration is key.

Luigi Ardito of Qualcomm said there were many challenges for devices but that chipsets are already being produced for millimetre Wave (mmWave) frequency bands. This, he said, is good news for industry. However, Mr Ardito emphasised that 5G is not just mmWave; lower frequencies are also needed.

Debora Gentina from Huawei discussed the backhaul challenges and evolution trends, and the role of mmWave. Shorter networks and shorter hops are becoming more prevalent with 90% of link distances less than 10 km. Options include increasing channel width, carrier aggregation or going to mmWave bands. A major overhaul of infrastructure for 5G will be needed, including fixed links backhaul over longer distances.

Regulatory requirements

5G covers a range of potential usage scenarios, which have different operational and technological requirements, as shown below.

The importance of key capabilities in different usage scenarios. (Source: Recommendation ITU-R M.2083)

These operational and technological requirements will lead to different regulatory needs. For example, some vertical industries would like to possess their own spectrum due to the fact that their businesses involve mission critical aspects.

For the most part, industry would prefer harmonisation of tuning ranges as it allows businesses to operate across markets, overcoming regional differences.

Ludwig Winkel of Siemens and ZVEI, the German electric and electronic manufacturers' association, said unified world-wide access to spectrum is the practical solution for industry, as manufacturers and vendors tap into worldwide markets. "It is absolutely necessary to have a regulations as well as spectrum that are worldwide available," he said.

Ulrich Rehfuess of Nokia and Digital Europe, the body that represents the digital technology industry in Europe, said harmonisation "really is key for the supply industry to be able to provide on large ecosystems efficiently across products". He believes that regulators should keep the global picture in mind.

Quan Yu from Huawei and GSA said: "Most stakeholders agree we need a global standard. It is very important to maximise economies of scale." Therefore a sub-30 GHz tuning range should be the most proficient for manufacturers as it could encompass Europe's preferred 26 GHz band while having a possibility of using equipment developed for the 28 GHz band which is not available in Europe but is used in the USA and some Asian countries. Similarly, a 40 GHz tuning range could encompass the USA 38 GHz band and the 42 GHz band.

Alexander Geurtz from SES, one of the world's largest commercial satellite operators, said that satellite could go some way to strengthen the overall 5G value proposition, and satellite capabilities can be incorporated seamlessly into 5G. Major advantages of satellite technologies are coverage of any area in the world and rapid deployment where needed.

Requirements emerging from vertical industry needs

During the workshop, views on 5G requirements were presented by representatives from various vertical industries, including automotive, railways, media and broadcast, utilities, home automation, industrial automation and public safety.

A recurring theme was that the majority of vertical industries would like 5G to be available as soon as possible in order to cover their growing spectrum needs, based on ongoing technology developments in order to improve their services. There are commercial pressures to be the first past the post. Several speakers recognised the importance of collaborating with other sectors and standardisation bodies. While different industries might focus on different requirements, some common views emerged:

  • Timescale: Some verticals cannot wait long for 5G deployment, and see the ultimate four-year timescale to 2020 as too long. If other technologies emerge or progress enough to meet the requirements from the verticals before 5G is available, they could end up substituting 5G.
  • High throughput: All industries have various levels of technical requirements, therefore 5G needs to support different traffic profiles. In some industries, such as the media sector, high throughput is needed, up to 7 gigabits per second for uncompressed 4K video.
  • Reliability: A theme to emerge from various presentations was the requirement for high reliability. When it comes to public safety in emergency situations, for example, reliability as high as 99.999% or even 100% must be achieved. Reliability is also a must in the railway industry, which is responsible for the safety of millions of passengers each day. For the cab radio of a train, 100% reliability is desired over 20,000 hours. It must be available 24//7 and have a 15-year life cycle. Any system must have maintainability, offering a modular design, easy handling and remote access. This requirement for near 100% reliability is the reason that many trains are still using 2G. On this basis it is questionable if 5G needs to be implemented in the rail sector, according to Dirk Schattschneider from the German rail operator Deutsche Bahn. Nevertheless, 5G applications could bring some benefits for rail – such as automatic train operation and better access to passenger broadband, even while moving at high speed. Robert Heiliger from E.ON, the home energy provider, outlined that, in the utility industry, reliability is important as it must be blackout resistant.
  • Coverage: Wide area coverage is important for many industries. For example, public protection and disaster relief (PPDR) is rolled out in emergency situations and is typically organised in groups, so one-to-many and many-to-many communications are vital. Coverage for voice services is paramount, but data is also becoming increasingly important. As PPDR deals with life-threatening situations, coverage should aim to be provided to 100% of the population.
  • Low latency: In some areas, such as the automotive industry and home sector, very low latency is needed. This can go as low as less than 10 ms for cars or less than 5 ms for media and public safety.
  • Long life-cycle: As 5G becomes embedded in various industries, a challenge for manufacturers is creating products that have a long life-cycle – up to 20 years in some cases. This is particularly important in automation industries, for railway providers and those in the automotive sector. Sustainability is an important factor as well.
  • Spectrum redundancy: According to Niels Peter Skov Andersen of the CAR 2 CAR Communication Consortium, spectrum redundancy is needed in the automotive sector for short-range communications. The current available bands of 5.9 GHz and 63 GHz are too far apart which presents difficulties due to the Doppler effect.

The CEPT workshop on 5G gathered approximately 150 participants

2.Looking beyond borders:

Another interesting element of the workshop was the session that heard different perspectives from beyond Europe. A number of international speakers shared their experiences with 5G. They included those from: the Inter-American Telecommunications Commission (CITEL); the Asia Pacific Telecommunity (APT); the Regional Commonwealth in the Field of Communications (RCC); the African Telecommunications Union (ATU) and the Arab Spectrum Management Group (ASMG).

The preparations for WRC-19 are in the early stages in the different regional groups, and most do not have preliminary positions agreed yet. CITEL stressed the importance of working together and developing propositions which will lead to international solutions that make sense to everyone.

5G developments are also ongoing in individual countries. Trials of 5G technology are expected to begin worldwide in 2017, though China has already started to carry out trials and sees large opportunities for outdoor deployment in the 24 to 40 GHz range. Initially, many trials will focus on spectrum below 6 GHz. Japan will examine spectrum both below 6 GHz and above 24 GHz. While 2020 is the headline year for 5G deployment, pre-5G deployment will take place over the next four years. By the end of next year the stage will be set "with a vision of spectrum and technology agreed".

Large sporting events like the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan and the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo provide the perfect opportunities to showcase the power of 5G. In a fast-moving, impatient industry, many tech businesses don't want to hold out until 2020.

Presentations, photos, and a summary from the workshop are available on the .

ETSI outlined the support and tools available in the ETSI Centre for Testing & Interoperability. In fact, work in this area for BB-PPDR protocol conformance and interoperability specifications is already on-going, and it will also include 'plug-testing' in the future. This news was welcomed at the workshop, and several countries indicated that they see the need for standardised solutions supported by multiple vendors.

It didn't end there. Other issues of interest included a discussion around the feasibility of linking the BB-PPDR network to government IT networks and BB-PPDR terminals roaming on commercial mobile networks.

Status reports and national case studies from various countries (France, Nordic countries, United Kingdom) were also presented. Roadmaps and the main expected challenges were reported to give a good overview of what can be expected for national implementation of BB-PPDR networks:

  • In France, a national framework is in place for the roll-out of BB-PPDR in the 700 MHz range (2x3 MHz and 2x5 MHz). In addition, France confirmed its interest in 450-470 MHz;
  • In the United Kingdom, BB-PPDR services will be provided by a commercial operator;
  • For all countries, migration concepts are needed for moving towards BB-PPDR. For early BB-PPDR adopters, this may even include using 'pre-standards' before some publicly available specifications become available;
  • Some countries will not auction parts of the 700 MHz spectrum for public mobile networks but use the spectrum for BB-PPDR. At the same time, some countries consider using commercial 'hardened' networks for BB-PPDR services;
  • There are some considerations to find synergies with other networks with 'mission critical communications', e.g. in the energy and transport sectors.

The workshop also provided a platform for industry and stakeholder associations to provide their perspective. This allowed some reflection on the CEPT spectrum harmonisation approach and standardisation activities. It also identified challenges which are still to be solved:

Stella Lyubchenko and Peter Faris, spectrum experts ECO