UK’s Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) installs a standalone 5G private network from BT and Nokia

BT is participating in a UK publicly funded 5G Standalone (SA) core network testbed project with Nokia.  Officially unveiled this week, the project involves installation of Nokia’s 5G SA equipment at Coventry’s Manufacturing Technology Center (MTC).

This project is part of the West Midlands 5G (WM5G) initiative, which is supported by the UK government’s 5G Test Beds and Trials funding program.  It will give SMEs, corporate members, neighboring universities, and the wider industry the opportunity to explore private 5G and on-premises multi-edge computing to drive forward innovation in the region beyond the duration of the programme. 

The goal is to “explore private 5G and on-premises multi-edge computing to drive forward innovation in the region beyond the duration of the program,” according to the group’s announcement.

Businesses and universities, along with “wider industry,” are given the chance to use MTC facilities to test the technology. This includes the center’s recently launched “5G-enabled demonstrator system,” which provides features such as 5G-connected robotics, computer vision and edge computing.

One use case under review is an “automated inspection process” to prove how intelligent automation and advanced connectivity could enable manufacturing sites to maximize productivity and utilization of inspection technology (while also reducing footprint and product waste).

MTC points out that traditional in-person inspections can be time consuming and prone to human error. Neither are they automatically recorded.

BT Enterprise CEO Rob Shuter told Light Reading: “It’s why 5G conversations in the enterprise space are more around deploying a private network over a manufacturing facility, a harbor, a military base etc,” he said. “I’d say we’re in the early stages of that. The technology is still maturing and customer needs are sort of emerging in a co-creation phase. I think we’ll be in that phase for most of this year, and it’ll probably be industrial scaling in ’23, ’24 and ’25.”

BT’s new Division X is spearheading the company’s efforts to sell new solutions to enterprise customers. Marc Overton, former Sierra Wireless SVP, was recently appointed Division X managing director.

Quotes:

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “This innovative collaboration between WM5G and MTC will enable some of our region’s most cutting-edge businesses to power forward their pioneering work in computing and robotics alongside our dynamic universities. Given the commitment to Innovation Accelerators set out in the Levelling Up White Paper, this announcement is wonderfully timed”. 

Robert Franks, Managing Director at WM5G, said: “Manufacturing is at the heart of the economy in the West Midlands, and at WM5G we are working collaboratively with our partners to ensure that public and private sector organisations can remain competitive in the global marketplace and develop cutting edge technologies to advance their capabilities. 

“We are so pleased to have delivered a successful trial in partnership with nexGworx and BT at the MTC, driving forward the transformation of manufacturing productivity for the region. The learnings and outcomes from our demonstration will now be used and applied across the sector to ensure best practice is carried forward, and to accelerate the adoption of 5G technology more widely.” 

Alejandra Matamoros, Technology Manager in the MTC’s Digital Engineering Group, said: “Our connected facility at the MTC will allow manufacturers of all sizes, research, and technology suppliers to explore the benefits of 5G in manufacturing. Through our enduring collaboration with nexGworx and BT we are now planning to further build on the initial capability we’ve created here at the MTC to push the boundaries of what can be achieved with the help of 5G technology.

“We hope that this project will inspire further development of innovative solutions to solve real business challenges and develop new opportunities through advanced wireless connectivity.”

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References:

https://www.wm5g.org.uk/news/the-manufacturing-technology-centre-mtc-installs-a-standalone-5g-private-network-to-help-manufacturers-boost-productivity/

https://www.lightreading.com/5g/bt-gets-into-5g-sa-testbed-with-nokia/d/d-id/776162?

https://www.itproportal.com/features/how-private-5g-networks-are-providing-the-key-to-tomorrows-high-quality-connectivity/

IDC Worldwide Private LTE/5G Wireless Infrastructure Forecast reveals 4G-LTE Dominates

The global private LTE/5G wireless infrastructure market is forecast to reach revenues of $8.3 billion by 2026, an increase compared to revenues of $1.7 billion in 2021, according to new research from International Data Corporation (IDC).  IDC said that this market is expected to achieve a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 35.7% over the 2022-2026 forecast period.

The report, Worldwide Private LTE/5G Infrastructure Forecast, 2022-2026 (IDC #US48891622), presents IDC’s annual forecast for the private LTE/5G wireless infrastructure market. The forecast includes aggregated spending on RAN, core, and transport infrastructure as well as spending by region; it excludes services or publicly owned and operated networks that carry shared data traffic. The report also provides a market overview, including drivers and challenges for technology suppliers, communication service providers, and cloud providers.

IDC defines private LTE/5G wireless infrastructure as any 3GPP-based cellular network deployed for a specific enterprise/industry vertical customer that provides dedicated access to private resources. (Yet IDC does not state what 3GPP Release(s) or whether necessary 5G capabilities, like specs for URLLC have been completed and performance tested). This could include dedicated spectrum, dedicated hardware and software infrastructure, and which has the ability to support a range of use cases spanning fixed wireless access, traditional and enhanced mobile broadband, IoT endpoints/sensors, and ultra-reliable, low-latency applications.

“Enterprise or industry verticals, such as manufacturing, retail, utilities, transport, and public safety are leading the charge for private LTE, and eventually private 5G networks, driven by a desire to capture productivity gains, enable automation, and improve customer experience. While the demand metrics are relatively understood, the emerging private cellular ecosystem presents several road maps, each with particular advantages and disadvantages. While an enterprise (within any industry vertical) will eventually need to assess its own needs internally, understanding the implications from each road map can provide a starting point,” said Patrick Filkins, IDC senior research analyst, IoT and Mobile Network Infrastructure.

“The private LTE/5G wireless market showcased in 2021 that although its growth is somewhat immune to macro challenges associated with the global pandemic, it still requires a significant amount of market-level solutioning to address the pain points associated with unlocking the full 5G solution.  This includes curating and scaling a robust set of 5G device platforms, which still requires more work across the ecosystem, particularly as it relates to vertical-specific solutioning,”  Filkins added.

IDC noted that the worldwide market for private LTE/5G wireless infrastructure continued to gain traction throughout 2021. The research firm highlighted that private 4G-LTE remained the predominant private cellular network revenue generator during 2021. However, Private 5G marketing, education, trials, and new private 5G products and services also began to see market availability. IDC also said that most private 5G projects to date remain as either trials or pre-commercial deployments.

“Heightened demand for dedicated or private wireless solutions that can offer enhanced security, performance, and reliability continue to come to the fore as both current and future applications, particularly those in the industrial sector, require more from their network and edge infrastructure.  While private LTE/5G infrastructure continues to see more interest, the reality is 5G itself continues to evolve, and will evolve for the next several years. As such, many organizations are expected to invest in private 5G over the coming years as advances are made in 5G standards, general spectrum availability, and device readiness,” Filkins said.

The report forecasts that the market for 5G private networks will reach $47.5 billion in 2030, up from $221 million last year, while the total market for 4G private networks will go from $3.54 billion in 2021 to $66.88 billion in 2030.  IDC also noted that the global spending on smart manufacturing will expand from $345 billion in 2021 to more than $950 billion in 2030.

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The total addressable market for private networks – including the Radio Access Network, Mobile-access Edge Computing (MEC), core, and professional services – is forecast to increase from $3.7 billion in 2021 to more than $109.4 billion in 2030, according to a recent report by ABI Research.  However, a quote in the article introducing that report was dead wrong:

“While the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) has frozen Release 16 (standardizing Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communication (URLLC)), Release 16-capable chipsets and devices have not yet emerged in the market. As enterprises require Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN), as well as high availability and reliability of their connection, they are reliant on Release 16 and are, therefore, waiting for compatible chipsets and infrastructure to enter the market. As this is not expected to happen until 2023, enterprise 5G will mature much more slowly than previously anticipate,” ABI Research said.

–>THAT IS BECAUSE EVEN THOUGH 3GPP RELEASE 16 WAS FROZEN IN JUNE 2020,  “URLCC IN THE RAN” SPEC WAS NOT COMPLETED AT THAT TIME.  Before that spec can be implemented, it must be independently tested to ensure it means the ITU-R M.2410 performance requirements for BOTH ultra high reliability and ultra low latency corresponding to the 5G URLLC use case.  As of 16 March 2022 (today), 3GPP Release 16 URLLC in the RAN is only 74% complete!

830074 NR_L1enh_URLLC Physical Layer Enhancements for NR Ultra-Reliable and Low Latency Communication (URLLC) 74% Rel-16 RP-191584

ABI also noted that the global spending on smart manufacturing will expand from $345 billion in 2021 to more than $950 billion in 2030.

Note: 2022 to 2030 are forecasts.  Source: ABI Research

“As manufacturers advance their digital transformation initiatives, they drive up spending on smart manufacturing with investments in factories that adopt Industry 4.0 solutions like Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs), asset tracking, simulation, and digital twins,” ABI said. ” While most of the revenue today is attributed to hardware, the greater reliance on analytics, collaborative industrial software, and wireless connectivity (Wi-Fi 6, 4G, 5G) will drive value-added services revenue — connectivity, data and analytic services, and device and application platforms — to more than double over the forecast.”

Meanwhile, Dell’Oro Group VP Stefan  Pongratz wrote in an email to this author,” We have talked about private cellular for a long time but the reality is that we have not yet crossed the enterprise chasm. Nevertheless, we have a very large market opportunity ($10B to $20B for just the private 4G/5G RAN) that is still up for grabs, hence the high level of interest.

About IDC:

International Data Corporation (IDC) is the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets. With more than 1,200 analysts worldwide, IDC offers global, regional, and local expertise on technology, IT benchmarking and sourcing, and industry opportunities and trends in over 110 countries. IDC’s analysis and insight helps IT professionals, business executives, and the investment community to make fact-based technology decisions and to achieve their key business objectives. Founded in 1964, IDC is a wholly owned subsidiary of International Data Group (IDG), the world’s leading tech media, data, and marketing services company.

References:

https://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS48948422

https://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=US48891622

Global market for private networks to exceed $109 billion in 2030: Study

https://www.3gpp.org/DynaReport/GanttChart-Level-2.htm (Release 16)

Dell’Oro: LTE still dominates private wireless market; will transition to 5G NR (with many new players)

 

Cisco’s 5G pitch: Private 5G, 5G SA Core network, optical backhaul and metro infrastructure

At MWC 2022 in Barcelona, Cisco revealed its Private 5G market strategy together with partners.  It was claimed to usher in “a new wave of productivity for enterprises with mass-scale IoT adoption.”  Cisco’s 5G highlights:

  • Cisco Private 5G as-a-Service delivered with global partners offers enterprise customers reduced technical, financial, and operations risks with managing enterprise private 5G networks.
  • Cisco has worked in close collaboration with two leading Open RAN vendors to include O-RAN technology as part of Cisco Private 5G and is currently in customer trials with Airspan and JMA.
  • Multiple private 5G pilots and projects are currently underway spanning education, entertainment, government, manufacturing, and real estate sectors.
  • 5G backhaul and metro infrastructure via routed optical networking (rather than optical transceivers like those sold by Ciena)

Cisco Private 5G:
The foundation of the solution is built on Cisco’s industry-leading mobile core technology and IoT portfolio – spanning IoT sensors and gateways, device management software, as well as monitoring tools and dashboards. Open Radio Access Network (ORAN) technology is a key component of the solution. Cisco is working in close collaboration with ORAN vendors, JMA and Airspan, and is currently in customer trials utilizing their technology.

Key differentiators of Cisco Private 5G for Enterprises:

  • Delivered as-a-Service: Delivered together with global service providers and system integration partners, the offer reduces technical, financial, and operational risks for enterprise private 5G networks.
  • Complementary to Wi-Fi: Cisco Private 5G integrates with existing enterprise systems, including existing and future Wi-Fi versions – Wi-Fi 5/6/6E, making operations simple.
  • Visibility across the network and devices: Using a simple management portal, enterprise IT teams can maintain policy and identity across both Wi-Fi and 5G for simplified operations.
  • Pay-as-you-use subscription model: Cisco Private 5G is financially simple to understand. With pay-as-you-use consumption models, customers can save money with no up-front infrastructure costs, and ramp up services as they need.
  • Speed time to productivity: Businesses can spare IT staff from having to learn, design, and operate a complex, carrier class private network.

Key Benefits of Cisco Private 5G for Partners:

  • Path to Profitability for Cisco Partners: For its channel partners, Cisco reduces the required time, energy, and capital to enable a faster path to profitability.
  • Private Labeling: Partners can private label/use their own brand and avoid initial capital expenses and lengthy solution development cycles by consuming Cisco Private 5G on a subscription basis. Partners may also enhance Cisco Private 5G with their own value-added solutions.

“Cisco has an unbiased wireless strategy for the future of hybrid work. 5G must work with Wi-Fi and existing IT environments to make digital transformation easy,” said Jonathan Davidson, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Mass-Scale Infrastructure Group, Cisco. “Businesses continuing their digitization strategies using IoT, analytics, and automation will create significant competitive advantages in value, sustainability, efficiency, and agility. Working together with our global partners to enable those outcomes with Cisco Private 5G is our unique value proposition to the enterprise.”

The concept of private networks running on cellular spectrum isn’t new — about 400 private 4G LTE networks exist today — but Cisco expects “significantly more than that in the 5G world,” Davidson said. “We think that in conjunction with the additional capacity or also the need for high-value asset tracking is really important.”

During a MWC interview with Raymond James, Davidson said, “Mobile networks aren’t mobile for very long. They have to get to a wired infrastructure,” and therein lies multiple roles for Cisco to play in the telco market.

Cisco’s opportunity in the telco space includes the buildout of new backhaul and metro infrastructure to handle increased capacity and bandwidth, its IoT Control Center, private networks, and the core of mobile network infrastructure.

“We continue to be a market leader in that space,” Davidson said, referring to Cisco’s 4G LTE and 5G network core products. More than a billion wireless subscribers are connected to Cisco’s 4G LTE core, and it plays a central role on T-Mobile’s 5G standalone core, which serves more than 100 million subscribers on a converged 4G LTE and 5G core, he added.

Davidson also expects Cisco’s flattened infrastructure, or routed optical networking, to gain momentum in wireless networks. But first, a definition. For Cisco, optical refers to the technology that moves bits from point A to point B, not optical transceivers.

“Our belief is there is going to be a transition in the market towards what we call routed optical networking. And this means that takes traditional transponders and moves them from being a shelf, or a separate box, or a device, and turns them into a pluggable optic, which you then plug into a router,” he said.

That’s where Cisco’s $4.5 billion acquisition of Acacia Communications comes into play.  In October 2021, we reported that Cisco’s Acacia unit is working together with Microschip to validate the interoperability of their 400G pluggable optics components – Microchip’s DIGI-G5 OTN processor and META-DX1 terabit secured-Ethernet PHY and Acacia’s 400G pluggable coherent optics.

The second phase of this type of network transformation involves the replacement of modems that exist in optical infrastructure with routers that carry pluggable transponders, Davidson added. The third phase places private line emulation onto that same infrastructure.

Supporting Comments:
“DISH Wireless is proud to partner with Cisco to bring smart connectivity to enterprise customers through dedicated private 5G networks. Together, we have the opportunity to drive real business outcomes across industries. We’re actively collaborating with Cisco on transformational projects that will benefit a variety of sectors, including government and education, and we’re working to revolutionize the way enterprises can manage their own networks. As DISH builds America’s first smart 5G network™, we’re offering solutions that are open, secure and customizable. Teaming with Cisco is a great next step, and we look forward to offering more innovative solutions for the enterprises of today and beyond.”
— Stephen Bye, Chief Commercial Officer, DISH Wireless

Cisco is busting the myth that enterprises can’t cross Wi-Fi, private 5G and IoT streams. Enterprises are now tantalizingly closer to full visibility over their digital and physical environments. This opens up powerful new ways to innovate without compromising the robust control that enterprises require.”
— Camille Mendler, Chief Analyst Enterprise Services, Omdia

“Developing innovative, customized 5G private network solutions for the enterprise market is a major opportunity to monetize the many advantages of 5G technology. Airspan is proud to be one of the first leading Open RAN partners to participate in the Cisco Private 5G solution and offer our cutting edge 5G RAN solutions including systems and software that are optimized for numerous enterprise use cases.”
— Eric Stonestrom, Chairman and CEO, Airspan

“This partnership opens a world of new possibilities for enterprises. With simple downloaded upgrades, our all-software RAN can operate on the same physical infrastructure for 10+ years—no more hardware replacements every 36 months. And as the only system in the world that can accommodate multiple operators on the same private network, it eliminates the need to build separate networks for new licensed band operators.”
 Joe Constantine, Chief Technology & Strategy Officer, JMA

“5G marks a milestone in wireless networking. For organizations, it opens many new opportunities to evolve their business models and create a completely new type of digital infrastructure. We see strong demand in all types of sectors including manufacturing and mining facilities, the logistics and automotive industries, as well as higher education and the healthcare sector. As a leading Cisco Global Gold Partner, we are excited to help drive this evolution. Thanks to our deep expertise, international capability, and close partnership with Cisco, we can support companies in integrating Private 5G into their enterprise networks,”
— Bob Bailkoskiis, Logicalis Group CEO.

“NEC Corporation is working on multiple 5G initiatives with Cisco. We have a Global System Integrator Agreement (GSIA) partnership for accelerating the deployment of innovative 5G IP transport network solutions worldwide. Work is in progress to connect Cisco’s Mobile Core and NEC’s radio over Cisco’s 5G Showcase in Tokyo, a world leading 5G services incubation hub. Leveraging NEC’s applications, Cisco and NEC will investigate expanding the technical trials including Private 5G in manufacturing, construction, transportation, and others.”
Yun Suhun, General Manager, NEC Corporation

Industry Projects Underway
Cisco is working together with its partners on Private 5G projects for customers across a wide range of industries including Chaplin, Clair Global, Colt Technology Services, ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation, Madeira Island, Network Rail, Nutrien, Schaeffler Group, Texas A&M University, Toshiba, Virgin Media O2, Zebra Technologies and more. See news release addendum for project details and supporting comments.

Final Thoughts:

Radio access networks themselves are between $30 billion and $40 billion a year. Depending on who you talk to, optical (networking) can be between $10 billion and $15 billion a year. And then routing is below $10 billion a year,” Davidson said.  “Our belief is that the optical total addressable market will start to shift over time as routed optical networks become more prevalent, because it will move from the optical domain into the optic transceiver market,” he added.

Finally, although Cisco repeatedly insists it has no interest in becoming a RAN supplier, it remains strongly supportive of Open RAN. The RAN market “is still closed, it’s locked in, even though there are standards,” he said.

“People do not do any interoperability testing between vendors, which is fundamentally changing with open RAN” because operators are forcing vendors to make their equipment interoperate with open RAN implementations, Davidson concluded.

References:

https://investor.cisco.com/news/news-details/2022/Cisco-Brings-the-Promise-of-Private-5G-to-Enterprises-Together-with-Global-Partners/default.aspx

https://www.sdxcentral.com/articles/news/cisco-exec-solidifies-telco-infrastructure-pathways/2022/03/

Microchip and Cisco-Acacia Collaborate to Progress 400G Pluggable Coherent Optics

Additional Resources:

ONF’s Private 5G Connected Edge Platform Aether™ Released to Open Source

Furthering its mission to seed the industry with innovative open source platforms to advance 5G and software-defined open networking, the Open Networking Foundation (ONF) today announced that its Aether Private 5G + Edge Cloud platform, and related component projects SD-Core, SD-RAN and SD-Fabric have now all been released under the permissive Apache 2.0 open source license.

Aether is the first open source 5G Connected Edge platform for enabling enterprise digital transformation. Aether provides 5G mobile connectivity and edge cloud services for distributed enterprise networks. Aether represents a complete, open 5G solution, addressing RAN through Core, democratizing availability of a robust and complete software-defined 5G platform for developers.

In just 2 years, Aether has achieved significant milestones and demonstrated numerous industry firsts:

  • Aether was selected for the $30M DARPA Pronto project for building secure 5G
  • Aether was deployed in an ongoing field trial with Deutsche Telekom in Berlin
  • Aether has been deployed in over 15 locations, operating 7×24 and delivering production-grade uptime
  • Aether is the only private 5G solution leveraging the benefits of open RAN for private enterprise use cases

In the process of achieving these remarkable milestones, Aether has matured to the point where it is ready to be released to the community for broad consumption.

Aether is built upon a number of world-class component projects that are each in their own right best-in-class. Today, all the component projects are also being open sourced, including:

SD-Core          4G/5G dual-mode cloud native mobile core
SD-Fabric       SDN P4 Programmable Networking Fabric
SD-RAN          Open RAN implementation with RIC and xApps

Demonstrating Aether at MWC:
The ONF stand #1F66 at Mobile World Congress (MWC) will showcase an Aether deployment, demonstrated as a cloud managed offering optimized for enterprise private networks. In the demo, devices (UEs), such as mobile phones, cameras, sensors and IoT devices, can be aggregated into device-groups, and each device-group assigned a 5G slice and connected to specific edge applications thereby extending the slicing concept to individual applications and services. Each slice is attached to specific Industry 4.0 application(s), thereby creating distinct slices for different use cases and guaranteeing each slice secure isolation for security along with bandwidth, latency, quality of service (QoS) and resource assurances.

Two Industry 4.0 applications are demonstrated running over the Aether Private 5G using Intel technologies enabling ONF SD-RAN and SD-Core ranging from Intel Xeon Scalable processors, Intel vRAN accelerator ACC100, Intel Tofino Intelligent Fabric Processors, to software offerings such as Intel’s FlexRAN reference architecture, Intel Smart Edge Open, and the Intel Distribution of OpenVINO. The first is a security application built on Intel’s Distribution of OpenVINO toolkit, an intelligent AI/ML edge platform running on Aether 5G and leveraging Aether’s Industry 4.0 APIs to dynamically change the network slice to suit the application’s real time requirements for connectivity. The demo first creates an application slice for video surveillance, grouping together a set of streaming cameras. Next, whenever a human is detected in the field of vision for a camera, the solution automatically increases the 5G bandwidth for the impacted camera and instructs the camera to increase its resolution so a high-def recording can be made. With this approach, 5G wireless capacity is reserved for mission critical applications, and bandwidth is dynamically allocated precisely when and where needed. All of this is performed in real time without human intervention.

Anomaly detection is featured in the second Industry 4.0 application. Based on Intel’s Anomalib, an Aether application slice carries a mission critical video feed of a manufacturing / packaging line which is channeled into an anomaly detection edge-app. The edge app is trained using defect free data and uses probabilistic AI to detect anomalies like spoiled fruit (bananas). Given the time critical nature of detecting faults early, the app is built to work in a real time fashion over Aether to deliver results at line rate for typical industrial and packaging production lines.

Getting Started with Aether:
It is easy to get started using Aether Private 5G. Aether can be deployed by developers on a laptop using Aether-in-a-Box, a simple pre-packaged end-to-end development environment including RAN through mobile core. By making such a complete solution available in a footprint that can run on a laptop, developers can get started with minimal friction. Developers can then organically grow the test deployment at their own pace into a fully disaggregated production-grade deployment, including production-grade RAN radios, disaggregated UPF edge processing and cloud-native mobile core. This makes it easy to get started with Aether, while assuring developers that Aether can scale to meet the needs of even the most demanding commercial applications.

The ONF Community:
Aether has been an amazing collaboration between ONF engineering resources and an active community that includes: Aarna Networks, AirHop, AT&T, Binghamton University, China Mobile, China Unicom, Ciena, Cohere Technologies, Cornell University, Deutsche Telekom, Edgecore Networks, Facebook Connectivity, Foxconn, Google, GSLab, HCL, Intel, NTT Group, Microsoft, Princeton University, Radisys, Sercomm, Stanford University and Tech Mahindra.

About the Open Networking Foundation:
The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) is an operator-led consortium spearheading disruptive network transformation. Now the recognized leader for open source solutions for operators, the ONF first launched in 2011 as the standard bearer for Software-Defined Networking (SDN). Led by its operator partners AT&T, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, Google, NTT Group and Türk Telekom, the ONF is driving vast transformation across the operator space. For further information visit http://www.opennetworking.org

References:

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/onfs-leading-private-5g-connected-edge-platform-aether-now-released-to-open-source-301487587.html

To learn more about the project and join our growing community by reviewing the Aether documentation, by visiting the ONF booth at MWC Barcelona (#1F66), or registering here to be sent a pointer to the recorded demo to be released after MWC. Developers can also easily get started by running Aether-in-a-Box on a bare metal machine or VM.

 

GSA: Private Mobile Networks Summary-2022

Introduction:

The demand for private mobile networks based on 4G LTE (and increasingly 5G) technologies is being driven by the spiralling data, security, digitisation and enterprise mobility requirements of modern business and government entities. Organisations of all types are combining connected systems with big data and analytics to transform operations, increase automation and efficiency or deliver new services to their users. Wireless networking with LTE or 5G enables these transformations to take place even in the most dynamic, remote or highly secure environments, while offering the scale benefits of a technology that has already been deployed worldwide.

The arrival of LTE-Advanced systems delivered a step change in network capacity and throughput, while 5G networks have brought improved density (support for larger numbers of users or devices), even greater capacity, as well as dramatic improvements to latency that enable use of mobile technology for time-critical applications.

Private mobile networks are often part of a broader digital transformation programme in an organisation. This could include the introduction or development of cloud networking and other digital technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, and data analytics. More and more applications of the private mobile network will use these capabilities combined with mobile connectivity.

In addition to companies looking to deploy their own private mobile network for the first time, there is a large group of potential customers that currently operate private networks based on technologies such as TETRA, P25, Digital Mobile Radio, GSM-R and Wi-Fi. Many of these customers are demanding critical broadband services that are simply not available from alternative technologies, so private mobile networks based on LTE and 5G could eventually replace much of this market.

The exact number of existing private mobile network deployments is hard to determine, as details are not often made public. To improve information about this market, GSA is now maintaining a database of private LTE and 5G networks worldwide.

Since the last market update, GSA has been working with Executive Members Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia on harmonising definitions of what counts as a valid private mobile network, and on harmonising sector definitions. That work has led to a restatement of some of GSA’s market statistics.

The definition of a private mobile network used in this report is a 3GPP-based 4G LTE or 5G network intended for the sole use of private entities, such as enterprises, industries and governments. The definition includes MulteFire or Future Railway Mobile Communication System. The network must use spectrum defined in 3GPP, be generally intended for business-critical or mission-critical operational needs, and where it is possible to identify commercial value, the database only includes contracts worth more than €100,000, to filter out small demonstration network deployments.

Private mobile networks are usually not offered to the general public, although GSA’s analysis does include the following: educational institutions that provide mobile broadband to student homes; private fixed wireless access networks deployed by communities for homes and businesses; city or town networks that use local licences to provide wireless services in libraries or public places (possibly offering Wi-Fi with 3GPP wireless backhaul) which are not an extension of the public network.

Non-3GPP networks such as those using Wi-Fi, TETRA, P25, WiMAX, Sigfox, LoRa and proprietary technologies are excluded from the data set. Furthermore, network implementations using solely network slices from public networks or placement of virtual networking functions on a router are also excluded. Where identifiable, extensions of the public network (such as one or two extra sites deployed at a location, as opposed to dedicated private networks), are excluded. These items may be described in the press as a type of private network.

GSA has identified 58 countries and territories with private network deployments based on LTE or 5G, or where private network spectrum licences suitable for LTE or 5G have been assigned. In addition, there are private mobile network installations in various offshore locations serving the oil and gas industries, as well as on ships.

GSA has collated information about 656 organisations known to be deploying LTE or 5G private mobile networks. Since the last update of this report in November 2021, some organisations have been removed from the database and this analysis, owing to a lack of evidence that they met the definition criteria. These examples may be added again in the future.

GSA has counted over 50 equipment vendors that have been involved in the supply of equipment for private mobile networks based on LTE or 5G. Commercial availability of pre-integrated solutions from several equipment providers increased in 2021; these solutions aim to simplify adoption of private networks, which should add market impetus. In addition, GSA has identified more than 70 telecom network operators (counting national operators within the same group as distinct entities) involved with private mobile network projects. Also, global-scale cloud providers (often referred to as “hyperscalers”) are offering private mobile network solutions, sometimes in partnership with mobile operators or network suppliers. Their ability to exploit mass-scale cloud infrastructure and their existing presence in commercial enterprises is likely to drive additional growth in the private mobile network market.

GSA has been able to categorise 656 customers deploying private mobile networks, which as Figure 1 shows, are located all around the world. Where organisations have subsidiaries in different countries or territories deploying their own networks, each subsidiary is counted separately. LTE is used in 78% of the catalogued private mobile network deployments for which GSA has data; 5G is being deployed in 38% of networks.

Dell’Oro Group forecasts a much smaller private wireless market share for 5G. They say LTE is dominating the private market in 2021 and 5G NR still on track to surpass LTE by the outer part of the forecast period, approaching 3 percent to 5 percent of the total 5G private plus public RAN market by 2026.

GSA also tracks the spectrum bands being used for deployments assigned specifically for local or private network purposes. Figure 4 shows that, including known spectrum assignments and deployments, C-band spectrum is the most widely assigned; TDD spectrum at 1.8 GHz comes second and is associated with the greatest number of identified deployments (more than 100 separate metro rail deployments in China). After that comes CBRS spectrum (also technically within the C-band but split out owing to the unusual way it has been assigned in the US).

There are more than 200 CBRS licensees, although they have not all been counted within the licence data, as it is not certain whether the spectrum will be used for public or private networks.

Telecom regulators are also showing signs of making increased allocations of dedicated spectrum available for private mobile networks — typically small tranches in specified locations. This could be acquired directly by organisations instead of by mobile operators, giving industries an alternative deployment model. Dedicated spectrum of this sort has already been allocated in France, the US, Germany and the UK, for example, and GSA expects this trend to be followed in other countries in 2022.

Note that owing to the removal of projects not meeting the new size requirement of at least €100,000, the counts are not directly comparable with those in the previous issue, although the patterns are the same.

GSA will be publishing further statistical updates covering the private mobile sector during 2022.

 

Acknowledgement: GSA would like to thank its Executive Members Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia for sharing general information about their network deployments to enable this dataset and report to be produced.

References:

https://gsacom.com/paper/private-mobile-networks-summary-february-2022/

Dell’Oro: LTE still dominates private wireless market; will transition to 5G NR (with many new players)

 

 

NTT: Biggest challenges to effectively integrate private 5G into existing infrastructure and applications?

by Shahid Ahmed of NTT

Introduction:

For most countries, the public 5G networks are expected to enable users to experience a whole new level of connectivity. Enterprises are wanting to make the most of the network as well. While the public 5G networks do offer enterprise solutions and services, a private 5G network might just be the better option for them.

5G in Asia

Why should enterprises consider a private 5G network?

Shahid Ahmed, Group EVP, New Ventures and Innovation at NTT Ltd.

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As enterprises continue supporting wider digitization, the demands on secure and reliable connectivity solutions are increasing. NTT recently partnered with the Economist Impact and interviewed over 200 CIOs globally, and our findings show they expect to benefit from the improved data control, privacy, and security as the most anticipated outcomes of implementing private 5G networks followed closely by improving workforce productivity through automation.

Advanced connectivity is an essential element for industrial automation applications in manufacturing facilities, Automotive, Hospitals, and Warehousing Facilities. Hence, private 5G networks provide a single network for mission-critical operational technology (OT) using micro-slicing to support manufacturing workflow automation, autonomous guided robots, and machine vision AI applications.

For most industrial applications, the cost of ownership for private 5G wireless is better than alternative technologies operating in an unlicensed spectrum. The TCO of private 5G wireless networks is lower (when compared to WiFi) because these networks provide wider (especially outdoor) coverage requiring far fewer access points which means less overall infrastructure to install and manage.

What are the biggest challenges when it comes to effectively integrating private 5G into existing infrastructure and applications?

Through NTT’s recently conducted CIO survey alongside secondary research, our findings revealed that the most common (44%) barrier to deploying private 5G networks is integrating the technology with legacy systems and networks. The complexity surrounding the deployment and management of private 5G networks was also cited as another significant barrier by 37% of respondents given that 5G technology is still in the early stages of its adoption lifecycle. Employees lacking the technical skills and expertise to manage 5G networks was the third most common barrier facing 30% of firms.

In view of these challenges, organizations could consider outsourcing their private 5G deployment to a managed service provider who will have the expertise when it comes to implementing private 5G networks. This is likely to be the most common approach to private 5G adoption, preferred by 38% of survey respondents. Buying a private 5G network ‘as-a-service’ can accelerate the adoption process and offer a better end-user experience and return on investment for companies.

Additionally, it is important to integrate the private 5G network into business operational workflows. For example, in cases such as safety and maintenance, these business processes and employee and machine workflows must be directly integrated into the network.

Source – NTT

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How is NTT helping enterprises with their private 5G adoption? Are there any use case examples to share?

We have a range of commercial out of the box use cases and device solutions available; for example, autonomous guided robots, machine vision worker safety PPE detection, machine vision AI smart factory and smart building solutions, group communication Push to Talk (PTT), AR/VR connected workforce, and automate manufacturing workflow solutions. These are just some examples of use cases NTT has curated internally or together with our partners.

NTT’s private 5G (P5G) fully managed Network as a Service (NaaS) solution is ideally suited for enterprises in need of better security, data management, and privacy supporting their wider enterprise digitization initiatives. NTT further provides system design and integration services to integrate the network existing systems and application and network management upon completion of the network. The solution is pre-integrated with leading network suppliers, offering clients the flexibility to seamlessly work with any industry-certified applications.

When it comes to cybersecurity, will private 5G enable enterprises to have better visibility and control over their network?

Security is the main draw for enterprises when it comes to private 5G adoption. This was also one of the key findings from the Economist Impact survey with 83% of executives citing it as the number one reason why they wanted to build a private 5G network.

Private 5G enabled networks are built around Zero Trust (ZTNA) principles leveraging SIM-based (multi-factor) authentication and authorization, enhanced end-user data encryption, enhanced authentication, and data encryption between network sub-components and network slicing.

Together, these enhancements provide end-to-end security and strict access control, through device authentication and protecting sensitive data with network isolation. It enables true granular micro[1]slicing capabilities where traffic within the facilities and warehouses can be segmented according to enterprise IT/OT SLA needs.

Lastly, the 5G network has been making headlines in the US over concerns it can affect aircraft radar. Should businesses be concerned if a private 5G network might affect other machinery in their plants?

With regards to concerns relating to 5G networks affecting aircraft radar, discussion among wireless carriers as well as the airline industry and regulators are still ongoing, and it is too early to speculate on the way forward.

Private 5G networks in the US are different than Public 5G. Additionally, most private networks in the US will leverage the CBRS band which is an FCC-approved and shared band, much further removed from the frequencies used for aviation altimeters systems while operating at much lower power than public 5G networks.

Similarly, the risks of deploying private 5G to an organization’s machinery is unlikely – and because the networks are custom, the individual network can be configured properly so there is ZERO RISK. Companies may benefit from leveraging a managed service provider who will be able to manage the infrastructure, implementation process, and any ongoing operational risks.

References:

https://techwireasia.com/2022/02/enabling-more-enterprise-use-cases-with-private-5g-networks/

Dell’Oro: LTE still dominates private wireless market; will transition to 5G NR (with many new players)

Dell’Oro Group just published an updated Private Wireless market report with a 5-year forecast. According to the report, private wireless RAN revenues for the full-year of 2021 are slightly weaker than initially projected.

“The markdown is more driven by the challenges of converting these initial trials to commercial deployments than a sign that demand is subsiding,” said Stefan Pongratz, Vice President at Dell’Oro Group. “In fact, a string of indicators suggest private wireless activity is firming up not just in China but also in other regions,” continued Pongratz.

Additional highlights from the Private Wireless Advanced Research Report:

  • Private wireless projections have been revised downward just slightly to factor in the reduced 2021 baseline.
  • Total private wireless RAN revenues, including macro and small cells, are still projected to more than double between 2021 and 2026.
  • The technology mix has not changed much with LTE dominating the private market in 2021 and 5G NR still on track to surpass LTE by the outer part of the forecast period, approaching 3 percent to 5 percent of the total 5G private plus public RAN market by 2026.
  • Risks are broadly balanced. On the upside, the 5G enterprise puzzle has still not been solved. The successful launch of private 5G services by suppliers with strong enterprise channels could accelerate the private 5G market at a faster pace than expected. On the downside, 5G awareness is improving but it will take some time for enterprises to fully understand the value of private LTE/5G.

Comment & Analysis:

This author notes a bevy of new activity in the 5G private network space.  It’s almost approaching a frenzy!

Yesterday, Cisco announced a “private 5G service that simplifies both 5G and IoT operations for enterprise digital transformation.” The company promised to show off the new product at the upcoming MWC trade show in Barcelona, Spain.  Cisco to sell its 5G private network under an “as-a-service” model, such that enterprise customers who purchase it will only pay for what network resources they actually use. The company said that it would partner with unnamed vendors for all the necessary components, adding that it will run over midband spectrum. The company did not provide any further details.  It should be noted that Cisco has never had ANY 2G/3G/4G/5G RAN products, as their wireless network portfolio has always been focused on WiFi (now for enterprise customers).

In late November 2021, Amazon unveiled its new AWS Private 5G service that will allow users to launch and manage their own private mobile network in days with automatic configuration, no per-device charges, and shared spectrum operation. AWS provides all the hardware, software, and SIMs needed for Private 5G, making it a one-stop solution that is the first of its kind.  Dell’Oro Group’s VP Dave Bolan wrote in an email, “What is new about this (AWS Private 5G) announcement, is that we have a new Private Wireless Network vendor (AWS) with very deep pockets that could become a major force in this market segment.”

In addition, Mobile network operators like Deutsche Telekom, AT&T and Verizon offer private 5G networks, as do other cloud computing companies, mobile network equipment vendors like Ericsson and Nokia, system integrators like Deloitte, as well as startups like Betacom and Celona.  So it’s a crowded market with suppliers each expecting a chunk of a very big pie.

I posed the seemingly contradictory finding of a less than forecast 2021 private wireless market vs the new private 5G players to Dell’Oro’s Pomengratz.  In his email reply, Stefan wrote:

“If I had to summarize all our various projections I will just say that the things we know (public 5G MBB/FWA) are generally accelerating at a faster pace than expected while the things that we don’t know (private 5G/critical IoT etc.) are developing at a slower pace than expected.

And for this particular update, slower-than-expected comment was more related to revenues than activity.  I agree with you that activity both when it comes to private trials and entering this space remains high.

At the same time, we have talked about private cellular for a long time but the reality is that we have not yet crossed the enterprise chasm.  Nevertheless, we have a very large market opportunity ($10B to $20B for just the private 4G/5G RAN) that is still up for grabs, hence the high level of interest.”

References:

Private Wireless Weaker Than Expected in 2021, According to Dell’Oro Group

https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/products/wireless/private-5g/index.html

https://www.cisco.com/c/dam/en/us/products/collateral/wireless/private-5g/white-paper-sp-idc-empowering-digitalization.pdf

“There’s nothing like it;” AWS CEO announces Private 5G at AWS re-Invent 2021; Dish Network’s endorsement

Deutsche Telekom launches 5G private campus network with Ericsson;  Sovereign Cloud for Germany with Google in Spring 2022

Deloitte to co-ordinate 5G private network field trial at the largest hospital in Latin America

 

Deutsche Telekom launches 5G private campus network with Ericsson;  Sovereign Cloud for Germany with Google in Spring 2022

Overview:

Ericsson and Deutsche Telekom have partnered to deliver a new 5G Standalone (5G SA) private campus network offering, aimed at on-site business communications infrastructure. The new campus network offering is based on a local 5G infrastructure that is exclusively available for the customer’s digital applications. The 5G SA technology works without LTE anchors (as in 5G NSA) and offers all the technical advantages of 5G – even for particularly demanding and safety-critical use cases: fast data transmission rates, maximum network capacity and highly reliable connectivity with low latency.

With the advanced 5G SA technology, Deutsche Telekom and Ericsson support companies from a wide range of industries in developing innovative digital applications and making existing processes more efficient.

The newly offered 5G SA Campus network – powered by the Ericsson Private 5G portfolio – operates completely separated from the public mobile network: all components of the infrastructure from the antennas to the standalone core network to the network server are located on the customer’s premises. This ensures that sensitive data remains exclusively within the local campus network. The local connection of the customer infrastructure also enables particularly simple and fast processing of data via the private network. This standalone 5G architecture of “short distances” is most suitable for supporting business-critical applications that require ultra-short response times in the millisecond range. The 5G SA network operates on frequencies in the 3.7 to 3.8 GHz range that are specifically allocated to the enterprise. Thus, up to 100 MHz bandwidth is available for the exclusive use within the private campus network.

The new 5G private campus network is being launched in Germany under the name “Campus-Netz Private” – and will be offered to business customers in other European countries.

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Analysis: It is quite interesting that Deutsche Telekom chose Ericsson as it’s 5G SA Core network vendor, rather than hyper-scalers like Amazon AWS or Microsoft Azure who are building 5G SA core networks for Dish Network and AT&T respectively.  Amazon also offers its own private 5G network directly to enterprise customers.  So does Microsoft which offers Azure private multi-access edge compute.  Earlier this year, Fierce Wireless reported that Google did NOT have a private 5G network offering, but was partnering with other companies to offer one.

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Sidebar:

Deutsche Telekom’s T-Systems has partnered with Google Cloud to build and deliver sovereign cloud services to German enterprises, healthcare firms and the public. The two companies say that the goal of this sovereign cloud is to allow customers to host their sensitive workloads while still being able to leverage all the benefits of the public cloud, such as scalability and reliability. The launch of the new Sovereign Cloud for Germany will take place ahead of schedule: Telekom’s business customer arm T-Systems and Google Cloud are launching their new sovereign cloud service in spring 2022. It will be available for all clients, initially out of the Frankfurt Google Cloud Region. Telekom and Google confirmed that they will jointly drive innovation for the cloud, closely aligned with the new German government’s digital plans which aims to build a public administration cloud based on a multi-cloud strategy and open interfaces, as well as meeting strict sovereignty and transparency requirements. To this end, the partners are setting up a Co-Innovation Center in Munich as announced in November 2021. In addition, executive briefing facilities in Munich and one in Berlin will be established for close collaboration with customers.

“Many companies in Germany state that sovereignty matters to them when choosing their Cloud provider. This is particularly important for key sectors such as public, healthcare and automotive,” Höttges said. “That’s why we’re delighted to offer a Sovereign Cloud that addresses additional European compliance requirements.”

In this new joint offering, T-Systems will manage a set of sovereignty controls and measures, including encryption and identity management. In addition, T-Systems will exercise a control function over relevant parts of the German Google Cloud infrastructure. Any physical or virtual access to facilities in Germany (such as routine maintenance and upgrades) will be under the supervision of T-Systems and Google Cloud.

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5G SA Campus Network: Full Control & Flexible Deployment:

Customers can adapt their private 5G SA network flexibly according to their own requirements as well as manage it independently: Whether for real-time communication of robots in factories or for connecting automated vehicles on company premises. Customers can prioritize data traffic within their campus network for specific applications as needed.

The mobile network is administered on site via a cloud-based network management portal by the customer’s IT staff – for example, the administration of users, 5G modules and SIM cards to access the 5G-SA campus network or to the machine control system. The closed system is characterized by its particularly high data security and reliability: Due to the redundant architecture of the local core network, the 5G SA campus network continues to function reliably even in the event of an interruption to the cloud-based management portal.

Managed service by Deutsche Telekom:

If business customers decide to deploy their own 5G SA network, Deutsche Telekom analyzes with them the critical business applications and the requirements for the private mobile network. Due to the simplified local infrastructure, the network can be built from planning to the handover to the customer within just three months. Network equipment supplier Ericsson provides the required modern 5G SA technology, while Telekom takes on the planning, deployment, operation as well as maintenance and optimization. Telekom also provides the set-up and updates so that companies can focus on their core business.

“When it comes to digitalization, industry and SMEs need a reliable partner,” says Hagen Rickmann, Managing Director Business Customers at Telekom Deutschland GmbH. “Together with Ericsson, we help business customers in every industry to increase their productivity and exploit their full potential using 5G standalone technology.”

Arun Bansal, Executive Vice President and Head of Market Area Europe & Latin America at Ericsson says: “Deutsche Telekom and Ericsson share a long-standing partnership in innovation, technology and services. Together, we offer secure, reliable and high-performance network solutions tailored to the specific business needs of our customers.”

Image Credit:  Deutsche Telekom

5G Campus Network Private – Available for testing on site:

Deutsche Telekom has already been offering campus network solutions for enterprises since the beginning of 2019 and by now operates more than ten of such local networks based on 5G non-standalone technology or LTE across Germany. With the new fully private 5G SA Campus network solution, the company is expanding its business customer offering with the next development stage of 5G. The new product is being launched in Germany from now on under the name “Campus-Netz Private” – and is also offered to business customers in further European countries. For interested customers, mobile Campus 5G SA test systems are available to test their own use cases on site.

Use Cases and Industry Verticals:

There is currently a huge drive to get private 5G networks onto factory floors for manufacturing.  There are some interesting examples of using IoT technology, feeding information back via high speed wireless connections, and analyzing data with machine learning/AI tools to optimize operations and do new things like predictive maintenance.  Ericsson touts several industry verticals as candidates for its 5G private network offerings: Airports, Energy Utilities, Airports, Mining, Manufacturing, Ports, Offshore and Processing.

The drive towards business 5G adoptions is reflected In Ericsson’s Q4 2021 financials, in which private networks for enterprise were cited as one of the key drivers of its 41% YoY jump in profit. Evidently, Ericsson and Deutsche Telekom see a lot of potential in private 5G for industrial applications.

References:

https://www.telekom.com/en/media/media-information/archive/new-5g-standalone-campus-networks-645348

https://www.ericsson.com/en/news/3/2022/private-and-secure-new-5g-campus-network-offer-by-deutsche-telekom

https://www.fiercewireless.com/private-wireless/google-leader-private-wireless-doesnt-offer-specific-product-it

https://telecoms.com/513200/dt-and-ericsson-launch-new-5g-sa-campus-offering/

https://www.ericsson.com/en/dedicated-networks

https://www.telekom.com/en/media/media-information/archive/telekom-and-google-expand-partnership-645356

https://www.thefastmode.com/technology-solutions/18460-nokia-deploys-private-5g-campus-network-for-industrial-iot-specialist-mynxg-in-nuremburg

Germany and France to fund private 5G projects with ~EUR 18 million

The German and French governments are funding four 5G projects with a total of EUR 17.7 million.

  • The 5G-OPERA project will create a Franco-German ecosystem for private 5G campus networks with open and virtualized hardware and software based on an open architecture. Partners for this project include Fraunhofer IIS, Fraunhofer HHI, IABG, NXP and Smart Systems Hub, among others.
  • The 5G4BP project aims to implement a European set-up for sovereignty and establish open 5G networks in business parks and communities that are not yet covered by public mobile networks. The 5G networks are based on an open architecture (?).  The partners in the project include Highstreet Technologies, Xelera Technologies, 6Wind, Alsatis, AW2S and Spectronite.
  • Under the 5G OR project, the partners will work on developing wirelessly connected operating theatres in a private 5G network environment for minimally invasive surgery. The partners in the project are the Mannheim Hospital, Charite Hospital in Berlin, Institute Fraunhofer IPA, Karl Storz, Sectorcon, IHU Strasbourg, IRT b-com and RDS.
  • Finally, under the 5G FORUM project, French and German industrial and academic parties will develop 5G wireless systems for operating theatres. Partners include RWTH Aachen University, Surgitaix, Uniklinik RWTH Aachen, AMA and Haventure. The goal of the projects is to reinforce the European ecosystem for private networks in 5G telecommunications using innovative methods.

5G private network architectures:

Under the program, the selected consortia will work on projects to make progress in 5G private networks, thus taking another big step towards digital sovereignty of 5G in Europe, said German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Robert Habeck.

“I am looking forward to an intensive collaboration between France and Germany,” said Robert Habeck.  “This is an important step in order to drive the economy forward with the help of state-of-the-art technologies,” he added.

“The constitution of a Franco-German sovereign ecosystem on 5G and future telecommunications network technologies will play a key role to position Europe at the forefront of innovation in 5G and its evolutions,” France’s Minister for the Economy, Finance and Recovery Bruno Le Maire said.

References:

https://www.telecompaper.com/news/german-french-governments-fund-private-5g-campus-projects-with-eur-18-million–1411477

https://www.business-standard.com/article/international/france-germany-to-support-projects-on-5g-applications-for-pvt-networks-122012200098_1.html

5G Security explained: 3GPP 5G core network SBA and Security Mechanisms

by Akash Tripathi with Alan J Weissberger

Introduction:

5G networks were deployed in increasing numbers this past year. As of December 2021, GSA had identified 481 operators in 144 countries or territories that were investing in 5G, up from 412 operators at the end of 2020. Of those, a total of 189 operators in 74 countries/territories had launched one or more 3GPP-compliant 5G services, up by 40% from 135 from one year ago.

Despite 5G’s much advertised potential, there are significant security risks, especially with a “cloud native” service based architecture, which we explain in this article.

New 5G services, functions and features have posed new challenges for 5G network operators.  For example, bad actors could set up “secure” wireless channels with previously issued 5G security keys.

Therefore, it’s imperative for 5G operators to address end-to-end cyber security, using an array of novel techniques and mechanisms, which have been defined by 3GPP and (to a much lesser extent) by GSMA. 

5G Security Requires 5G SA Core Network:

It’s important to distinguish between 5G NSA network security (which use 4G security mechanisms and 4G core network/EPC) vs. 5G SA network security (which uses 5G core network serviced base architecture and new 5G security mechanisms as defined by 3GPP).  

Samsung states in a whitepaper:

▪ With the launch of 5G Stand Alone (SA) networks, 3GPP mitigates some long-standing 4G vulnerabilities to enable much stronger security.

▪ At the same time, the way the Service Based Architecture ‘explodes’ the new 5G Core opens up potentially major new vulnerabilities. This requires a fundamentally new approach to securing the 5G Core, including comprehensive API security.

▪ Operators can communicate 5G SA’s new security features to some business users. Communication to consumers is more challenging because the benefit of new security enhancements will only come into effect incrementally over many years.

▪ Mobile network security cannot depend on 3GPP alone. Operators must apply robust cyber security hygiene and operational best practice throughout their operations. 

In addition, the 5G network infrastructure must meet certain critical security requirements, such as the key exchange protocol briefly described below. 

There are many other risks and challenges, such as the rising shortage of well-trained cyber security and cyber defense specialists. We will address these in this article.  But first, a backgrounder….

5G Core Network Service Based Architecture (SBA):

To understand 5G security specifications, one has to first the 3GPP defined 5G SA/core network architecture.

5G has brought about a paradigm shift in the architecture of mobile networks, from the classical model with point-to-point interfaces between network function to service-based interfaces (SBIs)

The 5G core network (defined by 3GPP) is a Service-Based Architecture (SBA), whereby the control plane functionality and common data repositories of a 5G network are delivered by way of a set of interconnected Network Functions (NFs), each with authorization to access each other’s services.

Network Functions are self-contained, independent and reusable. Each Network Function service exposes its functionality through a Service Based Interface (SBI), which employs a well-defined REST interface using HTTP/2. To mitigate issues around TCP head-of-line (HOL) blocking, the Quick UDP Internet Connections (QUIC) protocol may be used in the future.

Here’s an illustration of 5G core network SBA:

The 5G core network architecture (but not implementation details) is specified by 3GPP in the following Technical Specifications:

TS 23.501 System architecture for the 5G System (5GS)
TS 23.502 Procedures for the 5G System (5GS)
TS 23.503 Policy and charging control framework for the 5G System (5GS); Stage 2

The 5G network consists of nine network functions (NFs) responsible for registering subscribers, managing sessions and subscriber profiles, storing subscriber data, and connecting user equipment to the Internet using a base station.  These technologies create a liability for attackers to carry out man-in-the-middle and DoS attacks against subscribers.

Overview of 3GPP 5G Security Technical Specifications:

The 5G security specification work are done by a 3GPP Working Group named SA3. For the 5G system security mechanisms are specified by SA3 in TS 33.501.  You can see all versions of that spec here.

3GPP’s 5G security architecture is designed to integrate 4G equivalent security. In addition, the reassessment of other security threats such as attacks on radio interfaces, signaling plane, user plane, masquerading, privacy, replay, bidding down, man-in-the-middle and inter-operator security issues have also been taken in to account for 5G and will lead to further security enhancements.

Another important 3GPP Security spec is TS 33.51 Security Assurance Specification (SCAS) for the next generation Node B (gNodeB) network product class, which is part of Release 16.

It’s critically important to note that ALL 3GPP security spec features and functions are required to be supported by vendors, but the are ALL OPTIONAL for 5G service providers.   That has led to inconsistent implementations of 5G security in deployed and planned 5G networks as per this chart, courtesy of Heavy Reading:

Scott Poretsky, Ericsson’s Head of Security, wrote in an email to Alan:

“The reason for the inconsistent implementation of the 5G security requirements is the language in the 3GPP specs that make it mandatory for vendor support of the security features and optional for the operator to decide to use the feature.  The requirements are defined in this manner because some countries did not want these security features implemented by their national telecoms due to these security features also providing privacy.  The U.S. was not one of those countries.”

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Overview of Risks and Potential Threats to 5G Networks:

A few of the threats that 5G networks are likely to be susceptible to might include those passed over from previous generations of mobile networks, such as older and outdated protocols.

  1. Interoperability with 2G-4G Networks

For inter-operability with previous versions of software or backward compatibility, 5G must still extend interoperability options with mobile gadgets adhering to the previous generation of cellular standards.

This inter-operability necessity ensures that vulnerabilities detected in the outmoded Diameter Signaling and the SS7 Interworking functions followed by 2G-4G networks can still be a cause of concern for the next-generation 5G network.

  1. Issues related to data protection and privacy

There is a likely possibility of a cyber security attack such as Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) attack in a 5G network where a perpetrator can access personal data through the deployment of the International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI)-catchers or cellular rogue base stations masquerading as genuine mobile network operator equipment.

  1. Possibility of rerouting of sensitive data

The 5G core network SBA itself could make the 5G network vulnerable to  Internet Protocol (IP) attacks such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS). Similarly, network hijacking, which involves redirecting confidential data through an intruder’s network, could be another form of attack.

  1. Collision of Politics and Technology

Government entities can impact 5G security when it comes to the production of hardware for cellular networks. For instance, various countries have new regulations that ban the use of 5G infrastructure equipment that are procured from Chinese companies (Huawei and ZTE) citing concerns over possible surveillance by the Chinese government.

  1. Network Slicing and Cyberattacks

Network slicing is a 5G SA core network function (defined by 3GPP) that can logically separate network resources. The facility empowers a cellular network operator to create multiple independent and logical (virtual) networks on a single shared access. However, despite the benefits, concerns are being raised about security risks in the form of how a perpetrator could compromise a network slice to monopolize resources for compute-intensive activities.

3GPP Public Key based Encryption Schemes:

3GPP has introduced more robust encryption algorithms. It has defined the Subscription Permanent Identifier (SUPI) and the Subscription Concealed Identifier (SUCI).

  • A SUPI is a 5G globally unique Subscription Permanent Identifier (SUPI) allocated to each subscriber and defined in 3GPP specification TS 23.501.
  • SUCI is a privacy preserving identifier containing the concealed SUPI.

The User Equipment (UE) generates a SUCI using a Elliptic Curve Integrated Encryption Scheme (ECIES)-based protection scheme with the public key of the Home Network that was securely provisioned to the Universal Subscriber Identity Module (USIM) during the USIM registration.

Through the implementation of SUCI, the chance of meta-data exploits that rely on the user’s identity are significantly reduced.

Zero Trust architecture:

As 5G will support a massive number of devices, Zero Trust can help private companies to authenticate and identify all connected devices and keep an eye on all the activities of those devices for any suspected transgression within the network. While it has been successfully tested for private enterprise networks, its capability for a public network like open-sourced 5G remains to be gauged.

Private 5G Networks:

A private 5G network will be a preferred mode for organizational entities that require the highest levels of security taking into account national interests, economic competitiveness, or public safety. A fully private 5G network extends an organization with absolute control over the network hardware as well as software set-up.  All of those mechanisms can be proprietary as the 5G private network deployment is only within one company’s facilities (campus, building, factory floor, etc).

Future of 5G Security:

The next-generation 5G-based wireless cellular network has put the spotlight on new opportunities, challenges, and risks, which are mandatorily required as the 5G technology makes great strides. 

The 5G security mechanisms will continue to evolve in 3GPP (with Release 17 and above).  Many of them will be transposed to become (“rubber stamped”) ETSI standards. 

Note that 3GPP has not submitted its 5G core network architecture or 5G security specifications to ITU-T which is responsible for all 5G (IMT 2020) non-radio standards.

Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), applicable as of May 25th, 2018 in all EU member states, harmonizes data privacy laws across Europe. It could serve as a model for network security and data protection initiatives outside the European Union.

Conclusions:

The 5G network has the possibility to enhance network and service security. While 5G comes with many built-in security controls by design, developed to enhance the protection of both individual subscribers and wireless cellular networks, there is a constant need to remain vigilant and a step ahead in terms of technological innovation to thwart possible new cyber-attacks.

An end-to-end security framework across all layers and all domains would be essential. Introducing best practices and policies around security and resilience will remain imperative to future-proof 5G networks.

References:

Strong Growth Forecast for 5G Security Market; Market Differentiator for Carriers

Report Linker: 5G Security Market to experience rapid growth through 2026

 

AT&T Exec: 5G Private Networks are coming soon + 5G Security Conundrum?

https://portal.3gpp.org/desktopmodules/Specifications/SpecificationDetails.aspx?specificationId=3169

5G Security Vulnerabilities detailed by Positive Technologies; ITU-T and 3GPP 5G Security specs

Author Bio:

Akash Tripathi is a Content Marketing strategist at Top Mobile Tech. He has 10+ years of experience in blogging and digital marketing. At Top Mobile Tech, he covers various how-to and tips & tricks related to iPhone and more related to technologies.  For more about Akash, please refer to:

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