Powering industry verticals with deterministic networking-oriented 5G core

The 5G core adopts the CORE principle to provide differentiated services and a deterministic experience for all industries. Take a look at the technologies behind this principle.

By Jerry He, President of Cloud Core Network Marketing, Huawei
He Wenjie

2019 witnessed the start of 5G rollout. 5G networks and services were deployed faster than expected, with a total of 348 global operators having invested in the latest generation of wireless technology. Of these, 61 have commercially launched 5G services, including augmented reality, virtual reality, and fixed wireless access. 

A study by Keystone Strategy and Huawei SPO Lab reports that investment in industry digital transformation is increasing year on year. By 2025, it’s estimated that the revenues of global ICT vendors will reach approximately US$4.7 trillion based on ten industry verticals:

  1. Manufacturing/supply chain
  2. Smart city
  3. Energy/utilities
  4. AR/VR
  5. Smart home
  6. eHealth
  7. Smart agriculture
  8. Intelligent retail
  9. Automotive
  10. Drones/autonomous vehicles 

The 5G market is expected to be worth US$1.6 trillion, more than 50 percent of which will go to mobile operators. 5G is key to industry digital transformation, and Chinese operators and their industry partners are leading the way. 

In 2019, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) held its second 5G application contest. A total of 3,731 projects were entered, covering more than ten industries and three scenarios: smart life, digital governance, and industry digitalization. Smart life applications bring immersive experiences and new innovations to life and work. Digital governance applications focus on improving urban governance capabilities and efficiency. Industry digitalization applications utilize 5G in industries to drive digital transformation and develop new enterprise opportunities.

An analysis of more than 100 applications from over ten industries showed that the requirements of industry digital transformation using 5G networks can be divided into three dimensions: differentiated networks with capabilities that can be orchestrated, dedicated networks with guaranteed data security, and self-service (DIY) networks with automated management.

Differentiated networks

Differentiated networks are critical for industry digital transformation. Unlike the consumer market, industries have diverse requirements. For example, remote metering prioritizes massive network connection density over bandwidth and latency, while telemedicine and autonomous driving depend on low latency within a deterministic range, plus strict security and reliability. The magnitude of these 5G capabilities can be hard to appreciate; for example, to reach a reliability rate of 99.9999 percent, an annual fault time of only a few seconds is acceptable. Previous generations of mobile technologies focused on bandwidth, but 5G revolutionizes industry by providing multi-dimensional network capabilities while guaranteeing experience.

Dedicated networks

Dedicated networks securely isolate data and protect data privacy, a common requirement of business globally. Industrial internet and smart grid applications, for example, have high requirements for network security, roles, domain-specific management, resource isolation, and data and signaling security. Campus-limited access to production data and user data is a common requirement for dedicated virtual isolation networks.

Self-service (DIY) networks

Self-service (DIY) networks enable agile innovation in industry verticals. Industry users need to customize, design, and tailor their networks to meet frequently changing service user requirements. For instance, a campus IoT service user needs to orchestrate, schedule, and manage IoT network service parameters to flexibly deploy networks and applications, or to add or delete devices.

5GDN (5G Deterministic Networking), with guaranteed SLAs, can apply to industries with less rigid SLA requirements, but most suit market segments with the strictest requirements and highest potential revenues. 


Building CORE-based 5GDN

5GDN uses 5G network resources to build manageable, verifiable, and deterministic virtual private mobile networks, offering customers a predictable and differentiated service experience.

Before 5G arrived, the MBB network was a best-effort network, and only-fixed network private lines had specific SLA requirements. Unlike individual or home packages, enterprise private lines, which receive the same bandwidth as consumer packages, not only require bandwidth guarantees, but also SLA guarantees for reliability, service availability, professional services, and more. For the Industrial Internet, which has strict requirements, IEEE and IETF have defined the TSN standards and established the DetNet working group to study the development of deterministic communication in industrial automation and other fields.

Mobile networks and fixed networks differ in SLA guarantees because a mobile network comprises the radio access network (RAN), transport network (TN), and core network (CN). With scarce resources, the RAN is open and prone to interference, and unpredictability leads to non-deterministic results. CN is key for network topology and resource scheduling, service orchestration and scheduling, and E2E service experience management. Furthermore, the CN provides a deterministic experience for service applications and networks based on service awareness, helping the RAN become more deterministic. Therefore, the CN is regarded as the real core of 5GDN, perhaps even of the entire 5G era. To ensure they benefit from this, operators can plan and build a 5GDN based on the "CORE" factors: Cloud native, One core, Real-time operations, and Edge computing.

Cloud native

Cloud is the foundation of 5G. 5G will increase data traffic by more than 10 times, 75 percent of which will be generated at the edge, increasing the construction of edge gateways 100-fold. This requires a powerful cloud platform to support the agile, efficient, and elastic on-demand core network. The microservice and container technologies provided by Cloud Native make the entire network more reliable, flexible, and agile.

Huawei's next-generation, hyper-converged cloud platform combines IP and IT capabilities, and fully integrates network forwarding acceleration, graphics and imaging acceleration, and AI computing acceleration capabilities. It reduces bit costs and improves the energy efficiency ratio, meeting the 5G requirements of huge traffic volumes and high bandwidth. The Huawei Telco Converged Cloud (TCC) uses the dual-engine architecture of VMs and containers to implement flexible resource scheduling and meet data and service isolation requirements. This simplifies deployment, protects investment, and enables smooth evolution to meet different deployment and service requirements of the central and edge networks.

One core

5GDN must be an access agnostic core that supports all radio access technologies (RATs), since the existing 2G/3G/4G terminals and services are inevitably involved. Some industry applications are highly dependent on voice and SMS services, so a voice network and efficient voice codec capabilities are also crucial.

Based on microservices, 2G, 3G, and 4G are integrated into the 5G core network, allowing network resources to be flexibly and dynamically shared and all existing services to be inherited. The centralized deployment of its control plane and one-stop user plane simplifies network architecture, ensures smooth software evolution, reduces network delay, improves user experience, and supports migration to 5G without changing cards or numbers.

Real-time operations

Dynamic network slicing is implemented on 5GDN, requiring the full automation of network deployment, provisioning, O&M, and other processes. Work order-based processing on traditional networks cannot accommodate the efficient development of industry services. Therefore, the portal mode can be used so that industry users autonomously handle processing. Each industry user customizes and purchases required slices from the online store, and then manages the network slice through one-click provisioning, remote monitoring, and O&M.

Huawei's fully automated multi-dimensional dynamic slicing achieves the multi-dimensional slicing of users, services, and network capabilities by integrating the management plane and multi-dimensional intelligent modeling. Dynamic slicing also enables the fine-grained orchestration of microservices. With the fully automated programmable pipeline engine, one-click slicing deployment is implemented within minutes. Huawei's in-house AI algorithm engine and global resource scheduling capabilities support second-level precise awareness of slice SLA, real-time resource scheduling, dynamic optimization, and closed-loop management.

Edge computing

5GDN uses MEC to deliver differentiated connectivity and SLA guarantees for enterprises and industries. The high-performance connectivity provided by MEC enables operators to combine connectivity with applications to fit service requirements and the SLA requirements of different industries.

Based on the enhanced connection plus computing capability, Huawei's ultra-high performance heterogeneous MEC provides deterministic low latency on demand, a complete development platform with tools to accelerate service innovation, and cloud-edge collaboration to share the ecosystem on public cloud for quick edge ecosystem rollout.

The Huawei 5G LAN provides virtual private network services on the 5G public network, providing wider coverage, convenient mobility, and secure access, with ubiquitous 5G dedicated local area networks (LANs) for verticals.

Global application of 5G deterministic networking

5GDN cannot be deployed in one go, and 5G deployment by operators is still in the early stages. Operators need to select appropriate industries and scenarios by exploring opportunities for early 5GDN deployment during network planning. Independent areas, like enterprise campuses and ports, should be prioritized for 5GDN deployment. Machine vision integrated with video for industrial scenarios is also suitable for early 5GDN deployment. Industries themselves can choose when to deploy 5GDN. Some industries with high SLA deterministic requirements, such as the electric power industry, may want to prioritize 5GDN deployment. 

Huawei was the first company in the industry to propose the idea of Deterministic Networking in May 2019. In June at MWC Shanghai 2019, Huawei and its industry partners established the 5GDNA (5G Deterministic Networking Alliance). In Feb 2020, Huawei, the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT), China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, and other partners jointly released the 5GDN Industry White Paper. 

To date, 5GDNA has more than 100 members with a series of cross-industry collaboration based on 5G deterministic networking in fields such as multimedia, industry, energy, healthcare, and IoV. The 5GDNA has showcased many 5GDN use cases, such as Shanghai Yangshan smart port; the smart grids constructed by State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) and China Southern Power Grid (CSG); the Haier smart factory in Qingdao; the AR-based cultural tourism project at Beijing Expo – the Wonderland of Mountains and Rivers; and AR ads in Shenzhen Airport. These achievements demonstrate the feasibility and business value of 5GDN applications in verticals and indicate the success of the 5G ecosystem.

5G brings unprecedented changes and opportunities to the telecom industry. By exploring the CORE and 5GDN concepts, telcos can finally break growth bottlenecks.