5G-Blueprint aims to design and validate a technical architecture and business and governance models for uninterrupted cross-border teleoperated transport based on 5G connectivity. The teleoperated transport element of the project is divided into several use cases and several enabling functions. But also the 5G contributions of this project can be divided into multiple 5G topics.
Information about the deployed network infrastructure in the pilot sites, and the corresponding architecture, can be found in deliverable “D5.2 Initial report on the 5G network deployment”. Chapter 2 of that document contains information regarding the architecture; sections 4.2, 4.3 and 4.4 introduce the deployed network infrastructure.
Combining URLLC and eMBB in a cross-border setting
One of the main innovations of 5G technology is that the network can be configured in such a way that it can support different types of communication at the same time, even if these have conflicting requirements when it comes to the tradeoff between bandwidth, latency and reliability. Two of these different types of communication are Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communication (URLLC), and enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB). While URLLC solutions sacrifices throughput capacity to shorten latency and improve reliability, eMBB in general does the opposite. However, the form of direct control teleoperation validated in this project requires the combination of both: several HD video streams need to be communicated from the truck or vessel to the remote operator station, consuming significant amounts of bandwidth (eMBB), but at the same time requiring low latency and high reliability (URLLC) to allow remote control of the vehicle or vessel. That is a challenging combination, and the pilot activities of the teleoperation use cases will validate how 5G technology can realize it. And to add one more element to this challenge, this will be done in a cross-border setting with vehicles and vessels crossing the Dutch-Belgian border at Zelzate, hence introducing the need to also support seamless roaming for safe teleoperation.
Bandwidth and reliability at port terminal
A port terminal is a quite challenging environment for a wireless network. Container stacks or large (container) ships passing by are large metal obstructions that can very dynamically influence the actual coverage characteristics of the deployed 5G radio infrastructure. The project will validate in its pilots of both teleoperation use cases but also the container ID recognition enabling function how 5G technology can cope with these circumstances. It will also look at one specific innovative solution to this challenge as part of the pilot of the enabling function on scene analytics. In that case it will be validated how a private small cells with RAN and MEC capabilities can be deployed by the site owner and integrated in the public network of the mobile network operator.
Fixed wireless access for critical infrastructure
In the past, critical infrastructure such as traffic lights has been typically connected to the central systems of the road operator using wired connectivity. Doing the same using mobile network technology has not yet become mainstream, because even if that mobile network supports the imposed connectivity requirements in general, it cannot guarantee that it will remain able to do so in extraordinary network saturation conditions. However, through its slicing capabilities, 5G would be able to provide these guarantees for the first time. This concept of using 5G for fixed wireless access for critical infrastructure is validated in the project through the intelligent Traffic Light Controller enabling function.
Even though 5G technology provides higher capacity compared to its predecessors, it is valuable for any application on top to still consider the utilized mobile network connection as a valuable resource. Therefore making the application aware of the currently available capacity in the 5G network, and having it change its behavior based on that network awareness (e.g. by temporarily reducing resolution or framerate of a video stream when the network is becoming saturated) is an important element of any 5G-based solution. This concept is validated in the teleoperation use cases, but also in enabling functions such as e.g. distributed perception.
Multiple slices on same User Equipment
Through the concept of slicing, 5G technology can offer mobile connectivity with quite different performance characteristics to User Equipment (UE) using the same physical infrastructure. A straightforward manner to make sure the UE uses the appropriate slice is to equip it with a SIM card that is pre-configured to make use of a specific slice on the 5G network of the corresponding mobile network operator. However, this only works when this UE only has one specific set of connectivity requirements for all applications that it will run. Because then there is one slice to always connect to. However, some UE will run applications with different connectivity requirements. A smartphone is a good example of this: video or audio streaming requires a certain bandwidth to be provided, but because of the internal buffering of the media at the UE the requirements regarding reliability or latency are quite relaxed. However, cloud gaming applications on the other hand combine the same bandwidth requirements with much more stringent latency and reliability requirements. While an application exchanging data with a back-end to improve traffic safety has much lower bandwidth requirements but stringent latency and reliability requirements. As a result, on such an UE it should be able to connect to multiple slices at the same time using the same SIM card, and to have every application make use of the appropriate one. This part of the 5G solution suite will be validated as part of the pilot activities regarding the enabling function called vulnerable road user interaction.
Multi-access edge computing
Compared to using cloud computing services to host application logic, the Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC) capabilities of 5G enable to host this logic closer to where the clients of the service are located. This allows to reduce latency, and to avoid saturation of the core network at its central break-out points to the Internet. In the pilot activities of the enabling function container id recognition this aspect of 5G will be validated.