The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) unites [Seven] telecommunications standard development organizations (ARIB, ATIS, CCSA, ETSI, TSDSI, TTA, TTC), known as “Organizational Partners” and provides their members with a stable environment to produce the Reports and Specifications that define 3GPP technologies.In fact, the communications standards created by the 3GPP cover multiple technologies for instance: Radio Access Networks (RAN), Services & Systems Aspects (SA), and Core Networks & Terminals (CT), as well as many other aspects. 3GPP is hence, as you can imagine, a complex body and I won’t go into more details. In my opinion, one of the main things that are distinguished by 4G and 5G is are the core components, handover, use of frequencies, and physical layers, more importantly the “softwarezation” and the use of software-based technologies at a much higher frequency band, which leads to higher bit rates. In essence, in today’s 4G and 5G core networks a concept has been introduced and it is called, “Network Function Virtualization” or NFV, which brings the cloud to telecommunications systems together, making all the changes in software, and much less in hardware. Obviously, there are servers, CPUs, GPUs, and all that working to manage all signals, but that is multi-purpose and can be easily upgradable, as in the past, it was not.
It’s easy to confuse virtualization and cloud, particularly because they both revolve around creating useful environments from abstract resources. RedHat.com siteI agree with RedHat’s comments, however, virtualization is what has made all cloud computing concepts possible, and it is clear that has come to optimize and improve 4G and hence 5G systems. Therefore as the cloud makes its way to 4G and more to 5G, we will find new terms that were not part of telco’s, one of those is “Open Network.” Fir instance, “Open Mobile Evolved Core,” or an open “Core” network, which is not necessarily “open source” but what that means is that APIs are used just like in any cloud-based environment, and things or components can be easily interconnected. Therefore, under this model, all 4G and 5G network components and hence the entire 5G network runs in the cloud with servers executing multiple instances of machines or containers. For example, there are any standardized 4G components that include Mobility Management Entity (MME), Service Gateway Control (SGW-C), Packet Gateway Control (PGW-C), Policy Charging Rules Function (PCRF), among some others, those now run as server instances. For instance, the MME or Mobility Management Entity, is a server or cloud of servers entities that handles mobility and tracks the mobile terminal in the network, assisting the UE or User Equipment, or your mobile phone with handover and selecting the right cell to move to, as it travels around a different geographical area. In this picture taken from the “Open Mobile Evolved Core,” we cab read that all of these components may all reside in one server, and the network created is virtual, or a software-defined network.
Orchestration is the automated configuration, coordination, and management of computer systems and software. A number of tools exist for automation of server configuration and management, including Ansible, Puppet, Salt, Terraform, and AWS CloudFormation. WikipediaThese virtual machines are the main fabric of the “cloud,” the “cloud” is a set of machines or virtual machines that reside, ultimately still in datacenter and servers, somewhere, but are sufficiently operational from a “File” or an “Image” that can be copied into multiple data centers and operate without issues. These images or files are stored as “containers” or “virtual machines” that are executed in a real or hardware machine, that performs certain task.
These proprietary protocols in 2G and 3G were designed to operate “Circuit Switched Networks” and 4G is an all “IP” network designed to operate in a 100% Packet-based Network.Edge Computing works well with all IP networks and now the way to go. As computation is moves to the “Edge” and as the “Edge” of the network is now a server or a cloud-based component of a a bigger cloud, many new ideas are being formulated and network and computation blend in as what is called today a “Software Defined Network.” In other words, the network is defined virtually by software and multiple networks can be created using the same physical interconnections.
Edge computing is a distributed computing paradigm which brings computation and data storage closer to the location where it is needed, to improve response times and save bandwidth.Edge Computing is now a major area of innovation, for example “Cloud to Cable,” my own patented technology is an “Edge Computing” entity that facilitates caching, which is data storage, and computation which is covered by my own patents, closed to the cable operator. However, the same is true for a 4G and 5G system. I am personally working on how to achieve that at EGLA Research Labs. As a consequence of the use of the cloud, organizations like the “Open Network Foundation” or ONF and others, are looking for ways to standardize how this is done.
The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) is a nonprofit trade organization, funded by companies such as Deutsche Telekom, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Verizon, and Yahoo! aimed at promoting networking through software-defined networking (SDN) and standardizing the OpenFlow protocol and related technologies. The standards-setting and SDN-promotion group was formed out of recognition that cloud computing will blur the distinctions between computers and networks. The initiative was meant to speed innovation through simple software changes in telecommunications networks, wireless networks, data centers and other networking areas.Obviously, since now the cloud is powering 4G and 5G, the same standardization and SDN with protocols like “OpenFlow” are now plausible to be used in the network infrastructure of 5G systems. In fact, the fabric of a Software Defined Network, has always been of my own use at EGLA since 2014, when we moved into an “Equinix” data center with the first version of the Mediamplify platform.
Network slicing is the separation of multiple virtual networks that operate on the same physical hardware for different applications, services or purposes.Similarly, as part of the network is “Sliced,” the RF or Radio Frequency or wireless signals are now set to multiple beams. In a way, 5G operates at a high-bit rate, up to Gigabits per second, but at much higher frequency bands, sub-6 GHz or over 6 GHz. At these frequency bands, propagation of signals and physics brings the size covered by a base station to a smaller footprint. In other words, the power levels and noise are not appropriate to establish a link at 1km but are great at 100m, for example, and as opposed to 4G, a sector instead of covering a wide area, covers a few meters of wide. According to Metaswitch site:
“Due to the high propagation loss of the millimeter wavelengths (mmWaves) employed in 5G new radio (5G NR) systems, plus the high bandwidth demands of users, beamforming techniques and massive Multiple Input and Multiple Output (MIMO) are critical for increasing spectral efficiencies and providing cost-effective, reliable coverage.”Hence, signals are sent from multiple antennas (MIMO) and received by multiple antennas at the phone. This is already being achieved in 4G, at a smaller level, with a a technology called “Carrier Aggregation.”
Network speeds in 5G will be in the Gigabits per SecondHigh Bandwidth as expected would be in the order of Gbps or Gigabit per Second. LTE decreased latency to a few tens of milliseconds, but remember that you have to connect to the internet and account for all signaling, which provided an overall latency of 40-60ms, still unsuitable for remote robotics. Since the access or network is sliced, a portion of that network could be allocated to be higher priority and hence decrease latency of the overall access to a few milliseconds, which is now perfectly suitable for robotics and automation, or even self-driving cars, AR, and 5G Gaming.