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The view from the engine room

August 6, 2020

In our final video interview, recorded just after the TSG#88e Plenaries, Lionel Morand – TSG CT Chair - discusses the importance of Release 15 and the major role that Release 16 plays in delivering the full set of features for the 5G system.

Brian Dolby: Let’s start by asking for an update on the work that you have been doing in Release 16.

Lionel Morand: For 3GPP and the 5G system, it is (Release 16) an important step. Release 15 was Phase 1 for the deployment of 5G, dedicated to the definition of the New Radio (NR) and the definition – in the core network – of a new Service Based Architecture (SBA) dedicated to the inter-connection of the new 5G radio access network.

Lionel Morand story2So, in Rel-15 we created this SBA, a service framework that is modular, providing a lot of flexibility where any web-based application can discover and access any service provided by any other application available in the network. This was a great achievement, because it will get rid of the notion of network nodes inter-connected in the network; to have a more flexible IT oriented architecture in the core network.

We have also enhanced the 4G network to be able to inter-connect the new 5G RAN and this option of deployment is called ‘Non-Standalone’, which means that you are inter-connecting your new access network to the existing and legacy 4G network.

 See the video Interview on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/445215415  

For the first deployments of the 5G system, the vast majority of operators have decided to go with the Non-Standalone approach to concentrate their efforts in the deployment of the new access network with the new access technology and leveraging the existing 4G network.

In Release 16 you have additional features provided to the 5G system, so we are now on the 5G system ‘Phase 2’. In Rel-15 everything was concentrated on enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) services, for higher capacity and higher speed connections. It was quite enough to rely on the legacy 4G core network to be able to achieve this kind of services.

If you really want to achieve the promise of the 5G system, with eMBB - but also with Ultra-Reliable, Low Latency Communication (URLLC) and also Massive Machine Type Communication (mMTC), you need to have the new access network, but also the new core network.

This is achieved with Rel-16 and that is what we have done in this release.

New services, new features

In Rel-16, we are providing additional features to be able to support new kinds of services, we have reliable and low latency communications, but also features like enhanced vehicle to everything (eV2x) and other features like the possibility to create wireless / wireline convergent networks through the 5G network. That means that you are able to create a 5G system using WiFi and fixed broadband access, for instance. This kind of feature – in Rel-16 – was really ‘expected’ by the vast majority of the operators.

For operators – especially for the core network part – Rel-16 is considered by many as the real 5G system, that will be developed [by them] in the coming months.

BD: I think that you have been working very closely with the 3GPP SA group.

LM: That’s true and more and more so – I would say. TSG SA, for CT, is defining the service requirements and also designing the end-to-end architecture, to be able to support the services. We could say that SA is a kind of 3GPP architect’s office. For TSG CT – We would be the engineering team, developing technical solutions to be able to deploy and implement solutions – in the network - to support the services defined by SA.

Better coordination

What we have seen with 5G is that we have more and more cooperation and coordination with TSG SA. We are not just waiting for the output of the SA work, we are working with them and we are doing a lot of feasibility studies, to see that what is currently discussed in TSG SA could be feasible in the core network. I think that this is something that will be improved in the coming months, with the next two releases, but I think that it is a good achievement from the coordination point of view, at the 3GPP level.

BD: As things move forward, are we seeing more involvement from the vertical industries?

LM: It is still amazing to me, looking at the Rel-16 work plan. Obviously you have a lot of stuff that is traditionally in the telco network; for higher capacity, faster connections and so-on, but if you look deeply in to the details of the 3GPP work plan you can see features that are introduced only to support the requirements coming from the verticals. You can see features dedicated to Industry 4.0, for a new type of industry with more machine-to-machine communication. We have developed a feature for IoT communications and we have developed features for URLLC, enabling the possibility to have a stand-alone network and to ‘monetize’ the network.

We have also introduced those enhanced features for V2x for the automotive industry. We now also have features that are dedicated for healthcare, to be able to have tele-medicine, for instance.

Something that was introduced back in Rel-13, but we are now improving all of the features related to Mission Critical services and for Public Safety. We have a lot of features dedicated to them and I think that it is very good to have a network that is not only defined by legacy telco operators, but also providing a set of features and enablers for any services that could rely on the functionalities provided by the core network.

 

Contact for this article: Kevin FLYNN, Marketing and Communications Officer, 3GPP

With thanks to: Brian Dolby, Founder and CEO, Proactive International PR Limited for helping us to get this video made.

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