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Understanding 5G & Time Critical Services

Modern 5G networks have introduced technologies such as Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communication (URLLC) and Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) support to address a host of time critical networking needs. Time-critical services require the services’ clients and servers across the network to be strictly synchronized, and its underlying communication network to be ultra-reliable and strictly latency-bounded. URLLC and TSN features in 5G will help support an array of use cases spanning across automotive, transportation, healthcare, education, media production, forestry, public safety, banking, utilities and much more.

Support for Time Critical Services over 5G networks have been incorporated in various enhancements in Release 16 and Release 17. The white paper describes how these technologies are 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.

Understanding 5G and Time Critical Services” explores the following key topics:

  • Key use cases and requirements
  • Technology enablers in 5G Release 16 and 17
  • 5G architecture supporting time synchronization, IEEE TSN, and application function (AF) Requested Time Sensitive Communication
  • Timing Service resiliency
  • Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communication
  • Time synchronization accuracy and services
  • Security of Timing as a Service (TaaS) over 5G

“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.”

Executive Summary

Starting with 3GPP Release 16, 5G is enhanced to address many new verticals including industrial, mission critical use cases, and precise time delivery. 5G introduced technologies such as Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communication (URLLC) and Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) support to address these verticals. This report highlights how these technologies operate and come together to address the diverse use cases and new applications required by these verticals.

5G has been designed to fulfill a vision to help digitally transform various enterprises and industries. Digitalization improves agility, increases production efficiency, and unlocks intelligence. The connectivity requirements for enterprise and industrial use cases can be very different from those of consumer use cases. While data rate and throughput serve as the main benchmarks for consumer use cases like internet browsing and video streaming, the requirements for many use cases in enterprises and industrial sectors go much beyond these.

As part of the development of this white paper, we surveyed industrial sectors such as entertainment, automotive, transportation, healthcare, education, media production, forestry, public safety, utilities, oil and gas, railways, agriculture, manufacturing, warehousing, mining, ports, and construction. The TCS use cases in these industrial sectors can be classified into four use case families: Industrial Control, Mobility Automation, Remote Control, and Real-Time Media.

These industrial sectors also have different coverage needs and therefore call for different deployment scenarios. While we have found that all these industrial sectors have use cases that require local area coverage, most sectors also have use cases that require wide-area coverage, either general wide-area for serving devices virtually anywhere or a confined wide area, e.g., along a highway, between certain electrical substations, or within a city center.

Key take-aways include:
  • Many industrial sectors have TCS use cases that require bounded latency and a guaranteed level of reliability.
  • The TCS use cases in a specific industrial sector can have a wide-range of time-criticality requirements.
  • The coverage consideration of one industrial sector can go much beyond local-area and would therefore require network deployment in wide area.

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