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What does 5G mean for the private network intercom industry?

Date:Mar 28, 2020

In ensuring that public safety agencies are best positioned to effectively respond to emergencies, it is critical to overcome the cognitive limitations of critical communications. The narrowband technology currently used by emergency services is a reliable method of voice transmission, but it cannot meet the growing demand for data and video capabilities.


Many ongoing projects around the world use mobile broadband to advance the development of public safety communications. These services are built around the key business services standardized in 3GPP, but with the development of 5G, people continue to expect that the functions under the new standard can be used, so these issues are worthy of detailed discussion.

5G is the next generation of mobile broadband. Its key characteristics can be roughly divided into three aspects, which are usually illustrated by the triangles in the figure below. Its three corners are: enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), ultra-reliable low-latency communication (URLLC), and large-scale Internet of Things (also known as large-scale machine-type communication mMTC). They each enable faster data transfers, fewer interruptions, and connectivity between a large number of devices and sensors.


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Of these three corners, only eMBB goes live with the introduction of 5G; the other two corners will be provided in the part of the Phase 2 specification (3GPP Release 16), which will take effect in 2020. This means that many of the features promised by 5G are not yet available, and more importantly, it is unlikely that public safety agencies will put them into use when a new technology is born. Ali Helenius, head of strategic marketing and technology at Airbus SLC, believes that public safety will not be the "first adopters" of 5G because: "Public safety is not a pioneer in new technologies. What they need is that the technology is mature enough and capable of Reliable operation. "

Of course, this does not mean that the initial stage of 5G is completely undeveloped. Quixoticity founder Peter Clemons believes that soon public safety users will be able to "take advantage of faster download speeds." However, the full benefits of 5G will take several years. At that time, public safety users will be able to take advantage of "stronger network visibility, enhanced and differentiated quality of service and network slicing technology", but "it is unlikely to be realized by 2025, Except for a few public safety markets that are given priority by the government. "

The first version of the 5G network has shown us the potential of eMBB. Clemons added that its full capabilities "should be able to provide video calls, transfer larger files faster and more accurately, and use multiple smart ambulances and more eHealth app. " As for the topic of "What 5G can finally bring to key communications", Adrian Scrase, chief technology officer of ETSI, believes that there will be four aspects: high-performance functions, high-precision positioning services, reliability and capacity.

"High-performance features" will change features such as "real-time facial recognition" that require low latency and high performance.

Public safety users can benefit from "location services". These may already be available, but they have not yet reached "the level of granularity we want them to achieve." 5G will allow "precise positioning to within half a meter."

Regarding "reliability", Scrase explained that "this is what 5G aims to provide", and it will be supplemented in time by using "real integrated satellite components" to cover as much land as possible, while satellite connections are "post-consideration". This makes it affordable in remote areas without unduly degrading performance. Low-Earth orbit systems will ensure that the delay rate is not too significantly different from the terrestrial network. Prepare for the future

It may take many years for key communications to fully transition from existing narrowband services to LTE and then to 5G, but mobile network operators (MNO) may start building infrastructure from now on. Scrase explained that it is time to start building the core network and expand it as new features become available. "We have delivered the first phase of 5G, enabling independent and dependent operation. The new radio terminal can be connected to the existing core network or to the new core network, which is characterized by a service-based architecture Network. It does not have to be fully virtualized at first, but may evolve to fully virtual over time. It can be 100% virtualized or partially virtualized, but the new core network is to provide the network Functionality, and network capabilities are critical to meeting the needs of mission-critical users. "

Building a virtualized core network can help unlock all 5G capabilities, as this approach has the flexibility to allow the use of commodity hardware and faster rollout of new services. The 5G core network may be partially virtualized at the beginning, and finally fully virtualized. Quixoticity's Clemons suggests that future emergency services can access multiple networks, and that the most appropriate network can be selected based on the specific situation of the incident. This virtualized environment will help introduce new features, such as mission-critical PTT. Network slicing

Network slicing is another area with real potential for change. ETSI's Scrase claims that network slicing is important and will enable public safety agencies to have "predictability of precise performance." Network slicing is about ensuring that a service provider can provide the required functionality in a timely manner for a particular operation being performed at a particular location. Scrase gives an example: facial recognition meetings, this application requires low latency and high performance. Available through a network slice. Until the transition to 5G networks, you simply couldn't provide the specific applications you can think of with custom network slicing.

Network slicing is a key issue for critical communications, as any discussion of shutting down existing narrowband PMR systems and relying on mobile broadband has sparked a debate on whether public networks can handle emergency communications without interruption. Airbus' Helenius emphasized that how network slicing serves public safety is an unknown area. But Ken Rehbehn of IHS Market pointed out that some existing programs have moved in this direction. He said: "The mechanisms that support ESN, FirstNet and SafeNet networks combine the technologies necessary for network slicing and can be regarded as the pioneers of 5G networks. Network slicing is beyond our current understanding of radio operations and can address cross-core Challenges of network transport and operation in software servers. "

But Rehbehn also believes that network slicing technology is not the first method to make public safety agencies more confident in using the public network, which is also very critical.

"Before the arrival of network slicing technology, confidence in the public network should be established. From the current situation, the public safety industry must have confidence in the LTE mechanism currently running. Confidence is growing, but it has not been fully established because it was launched There are still some problems in the early days. "

One of the features of 5G is the use of millimeter wave frequencies to provide mobile device users with incredibly high data transfer rates (greater than 1GBps), but this feature will only change public safety agencies in very special cases. Rehbehn explained: "Unless the operating area is clearly defined and serviced by an available radio network, there is little chance that mmWave will play an important role in critical communications. At 28GHz, it is difficult to propagate even with beamforming. As far as 5G's forthcoming features are concerned, what is even more exciting is the features enabled by URLLC technology. "

URLLC is expected to enable mission-critical applications that are sensitive to peak latency. What do these features mean for public safety users? Clemons believes that these capabilities are critical to opening up future scenarios such as autonomous vehicles, autonomous drones and remote surgery. Rehbehn argues that one of URLLC's most promising potential applications is to use "augmented reality" to assist firefighters. He gave an example: After merging the information obtained from sensors and video, the enhanced field of view can be presented in the firefighter's mask. This information may include: the outline of the wall, the path of the exit, and the occupancy of the building. This will be an enhanced version of C-THRU from Qwake Technologies. But he also suggested that such cases are unlikely to be adopted on a large scale. If you think about "possible art" without budget constraints, it's just an example.


When discussing the role of 5G networks in critical communications, disconnection is important because reliability is the foundation of resilience and low latency may not provide anything for emergency services. Barriers on the road to development

For example, the UK's first 4G service went live in a few cities in October 2012. According to a government announcement issued last month, the geographic coverage of 4G will not reach 95% until 2025. To date, each generation of mobile broadband has developed faster than its predecessor, but the gap between a service being put into use in an area and reaching an acceptable level of geographic coverage will continue for years, so public safety agencies are in the medium term It will not be possible to formulate its strategy around reliance on 5G.

This is why policies and contracts need to consider 5G, but pay more attention to the standards available today. Rehbehn of IHS Markit pointed out that with the development of 5G, LTE functions continue to mature, and when this technology becomes part of network operator products, emergency services agencies “combining scalable languages” become very important so that they can be free Use 5G. We return to the issue of coverage, because network operators have a weak economic foundation to support these frequency bands in low-density population areas, so institutions will not be able to universally access large-capacity 5G networks, and operating plans should assume that this feature is not available. Rehbehn said: "High-performance 5G will be limited by geographic coverage and surrounded by LTE oceans operating at different levels of capability." A decade of progress

5G networks will unlock new capabilities for emergency services to handle emergencies. However, in the short term, the wider transition from existing radio systems to mobile broadband is a more serious challenge. The move to LTE will be a revolutionary leap and will make the transition to 5G easier in the future. Public safety agencies should note that 5G is limited. ETSI's Scrase proposal holds a neutral point of view. He re-examined the 5G triangle, thinking that "it is unlikely to have high bandwidth and high reliability and low latency at the same time" unless the network performance reaches extremes. He finally pointed out that public safety agencies need to weigh the above three points (reliability, delay or bandwidth), which point can provide a better solution when dealing with an event, and ensure that it is included in contract negotiations with service providers. related information.

Clemons emphasizes the importance of the real future, but we can still be optimistic about the future. He said: "In the short term, the development, installation and operation of new solutions is still dangerous. Therefore, in the initial stage of 5G, governments and public safety agencies need to pay close attention. At this stage, errors will occur and networks will occur Failures, services may not be available, and everything will happen. But in the long run, thousands of senior technical and dedicated people and organizations are working on 5G, and the prospect of 5G gives me full confidence by 2030 Within ten years, it should be possible to make a better, smarter, and safer world. "