5G technology is being designed to support new and diverse wireless network use cases. While 3G and 4G focused on making high speed data a reality, the requirements emerging for the 5G network are more differentiated and aim to introduce wireless networking for diverse applications like connected vehicles, critical communications, machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and for the Internet of Things (IoT). 5G rests of four key pillars – new air-interface, flexible spectrum allocation, network function virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networks (SDN). The new air interface and flexible spectrum allocation enable very high data throughputs and mobility by adaptively switching between sub 6 GHz and higher than 6 GHz spectrum slices. NFV and SDN work in conjunction to enable new network management concepts such as network slicing, ultra-high reliability and native multi-tenancy. These pillars work together to optimize end-to-end latency and provide a seamless user experience.
Azcom Technology is deeply involved in the pre-standardization phase thanks to its participation in EU’s Horizon 2020 5G-PPP NORMA (Novel Radio Multiservice Adaptive Network Architecture) project (https://5gnorma.5g-ppp.eu/), which tackles the 5G requirements by completely re-thinking the network architecture. The key idea is to flexible allocate network functions that can execute far away or in proximity to the radio interface, depending on the service requested by the end user. Both static and dynamic network configurations are controlled by a hierarchy of orchestrating elements which in turn control both the tenant-level configuration and the dynamic service-level configuration.
As a member of the 5G NORMA consortium, beyond other tasks, Azcom Technology is in charge of developing demonstrations (running on real hardware) of the 5G NORMA concepts, by leveraging its own 4G Small Cell solution. A 5G demo is being presented for the first time at MWC 2016 and focuses on latency. Azcom’s 5G demo focuses on minimizing end-to-end latency which is a very important requirement for the 5G network – from industrial device control, vehicle-to-vehicle communication, autonomous driving to diverse applications such as remote surgery.
The demo is based on 4G radio interface, but introduces a 5G-like core network, where RAN functions are executed in proximity to packet routing in order to minimize packet transmission delays and optimize end-to-end latency. The demo shows a hands-on example of remote control of a model car (50 cm) via a tablet to highlight the difference between high latency and low latency link control.
Azcom will be working very closely with its partner companies to further technology advances in the 5G era.