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5G time-critical services set to boost productivity and efficiency of industrial operations

Whitepaper from industry trade organisation for leading telecommunications service providers and manufacturers highlights key planning and implementation issues that will ensure success of time-critical services for 5G networks

Continued advancements in 5G wireless cellular standards and networks are set to address new enterprise and industrial use cases. To facilitate these gains, modern 5G networks are accelerating the introduction of technologies such as ultra-reliable low-latency communication (URLLC) and time-sensitive networking (TSN) support to address a host of time-critical networking needs.

A research paper from 5G Americas has highlighted that such complex use cases often require data delivery within a specified time duration with a high degree of guaranteed reliability.

The Understanding 5G and time-critical services paper – from the regional industry trade organisation for leading telcos, service providers and manufacturers, which sees itself as the voice of 5G and LTE for the Americas – covered the subject of time-critical services in 5G networks, noting that time-critical services require the services’ clients and servers across the network to be strictly synchronised and the underlying communication network to be ultra-reliable and strictly latency-bounded.

It added that URLLC and features in 5G would help support an array of use cases, spanning automotive, transportation, healthcare, education, media production, forestry, public safety, banking and utilities, among other vertical industries.

The whitepaper also showed how support for time-critical services over 5G networks had been incorporated in various enhancements in Release 16 and Release 17 of the 3GPP mobile communications standard. It described how these technologies were impacting legacy networks based on global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) that have traditionally provided required timing accuracy, as well as the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers IEEE 802.1 TSN standard that is becoming the converged networking technology for factories to enable deterministic and low-latency communication.

The study also highlighted key use cases and requirements; technology enablers in 5G Release 16 and 17; 5G architecture supporting time synchronisation; IEEE TSN and application function (AF); requested time-sensitive communication; timing service resiliency; ultra-reliable low-latency communication; time synchronisation accuracy and services; and security of timing as a service (TaaS) over 5G.

Engineers from Intel and Qualcomm led the working group that authored the paper. Commenting on the study and what it revealed, Fatih Ulupinar, principal engineer at Qualcomm Technologies and 5G Americas working group leader, said: “Ultra-reliable low-latency and time-sensitive networking can bring ubiquitous and smooth connectivity while meeting the real-time requirements.

“They have the potential to unleash new use cases and applications for automation and will lay the foundation for Industry 4.0. Time-sensitive networking can provide guaranteed data delivery in a guaranteed time window, making it a key enabler technology for an enhanced automated 5G ecosystem.”

June 2022 research from 5G Americas showed more evidence of the strong growth of 5G networks in the Americas, calculating that after three full years of steady growth, global wireless 5G adoption had reached a rapid acceleration phase, touching the milestone of 701 million connections by the end of the first quarter of 2022.

The trade association said the number of 5G commercial networks globally had reached 224 by the end of the first quarter of 2022, and expected that number to reach 313 by the end of 2022 and 352 by the end of 2024, representing strong 5G network investment growth in many regions of the world.

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