The GSMA’s Future Networks team hosted the 5G Network Slicing Summit at Mobile World Congress Shanghai 2018, sponsored and co-hosted by China Mobile and Huawei. It included guest speakers from 3GPP, 5GSA, Beckhoff, China Mobile, China Southern Power Grid, Huawei, LetinVR Digital Technology, PetroChina Huabei Oilfield Company, State Grid Corporation of China and Tencent and aimed to address the critical issues in network slicing such as business models, AI enabled intelligent connectivity as well as the impact on different sectors such as gaming, entertainment and smart energy.
The 5G era will soon be upon us, with GSMA Intelligence estimating that there will be 1.2 billion 5G connections by 2025, covering 40% of the global population or about 2.7 billion people. It promises to usher in an era of incredibly fast, smart networks that will be more responsive and customisable than previous mobile generations offering the ability to cater to the diverse requirements of different vertical sectors. For example, one company may require ultra-reliable services, whereas another may need ultra-high-bandwidth or extremely low latency and the 5G network needs to be able to offer this different mix of capabilities and requirements at the same time. Huawei’s Dr. Frank Mademann, Chairman of the 3GPP Architecture Group outlined how previous generations of mobile networks were defined by a single ‘one size fits all’ network that supported all use cases. However, he explained how network slicing changes this dynamic and partitions the network to serve particular use case with specific requirements. These networks would enable businesses to enjoy connectivity and data processing tailored to their specific requirements and agreed with an operator through a service level agreement (SLA).
Antje Williams, Executive Program Manager, Deutsche Telekom and Chair of 5GSA raised concerns over hyping the 5G market and how the vision of high speeds and low latency needed cross-industry collaboration to make it a reality. China Mobile agreed that without close industry collaboration the potential of 5G would not be realised. To this end, China Mobile has developed the ‘China Mobile 5G Innovation Center,’ which currently has 224 partners and an Open Lab focusing on developing the potential of 5G across a number of different areas including traffic, video, finance, industry, smart cities, education, AI and medical. The GSMA’s Chen Wei, Vice Chair of Network Slicing also discussed how the GSMA was supporting cross-industry collaboration to support the development of 5G and to make network slicing a success across multiple areas including standards, business models, advocacy, roaming and interoperability and policy amongst other areas.
Network Slicing for Industry 4.0
Dr Guoyi Zhang, Senior Engineer at China Southern Grid Power outlined how network slicing will impact the management of a smart grid and deliver service for industrial automation monitoring and production. A low latency, 5G smart grid solution would include intelligent and distributed automation to quickly identify and isolate faults as well as the ability to adjust service requirements to satisfy customer needs. Other areas requiring massive data collection could be based on smart metering such as collecting usage information to improve energy efficiencies or data from solar, wind or batteries to control the energy flow. Network slicing could also be utilised in areas requiring high-bandwidth such as video applications, robot drones or emergency repair applications requiring HD or 4K video. The technology would allow China Southern to deliver a smarter, more effective, reliable and green service. Xu Hui, CTO at PetroChina Huabei Oilfield Company also outlined how 5G network slicing can be used to drive efficiencies in the production of oil. Dr YanQiang Liu, Senior Consultant for Industrial Internet at Beckhoff provided an overview of how network slicing would impact the manufacturing process in the ‘smart factory’ highlighting the importance of common international standards. He also highlighted how the three principle 5G focus areas and how they would impact the sector. For example, ‘Enhanced Mobile Broadband’ would support wide area connectivity for fleet maintenance, augmented reality, remote access and process automation. While other areas requiring ultra-reliable and low latency communication could involve motion control, mobile robotics and safety functions. Massive machine type communications would be required by wireless sensor networks.
5G Network Slicing Impacting Sports, Live Entertainment and Gaming
WenBo Sun, CEO at LetinVR Digitial Technology discussed how 5G network slicing could be applied to sports and live entertainment. Through Cloud VR sports events or music concerts could be broadcast live for users to enjoy through augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) technology. The experience would let fans feel as if they were actually in the crowd at a venue but able to communicate and interact with others, share games and see information overlaid in front of them. He expected the market to grow rapidly over the next five years with an annual growth rate of 163%: “in 2018, VR will quickly enter the stage of comprehensive cloud computing. Cloud VR family entertainment will enter thousands of households. Cloud VR will become an important application scenario for operators,” Sun commented. Sun also outlined that this would require a multimedia broadcast services function in the 5G network as well as high density computing to deal with AR/VR video processing and quality of service to guarantee a good user experience. Hong Kai, In-house Studios Technical Operations Director at Tencent covered the impact network slicing would have on the gaming industry. He highlighted the variety of different games on the market such as real-time multiplayer games which place demands on the performance of the mobile network. Kai outlined the future of gaming which would rely on cloud computing and areas such as VR Gaming which would bring a ‘full immersive and superior user experience’. He argued that 5G network slicing would bring business and service innovation and enable a differentiated user experience.
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