On October 25th, at EXPO 2020, Ericsson launched a new, end-to-end solution for Time-Critical Communication aimed at delivering consistent low latency and high reliability needed to realize a variety of use cases beyond enhanced mobile broadband services. The new solution is designed to address the need for consistent low latency and highly reliable performance which many time-critical use cases demand and deliver on the full promise of 5G.
Time-Critical Communication is a software toolbox for resolving lags and interruptions. The software product delivers consistent low latency (50ms to 1ms) end to-end (e2e) at specified guarantee levels (99.9 percent to 99.999 percent) – enabling time-critical use cases at scale. This e2e solution includes RAN, Transport, 5G Core, Management & Orchestration, BSS, and Support Services to address Time-Critical Communication needs across various industries. It will enable new use case categories, generating new business opportunities and revenue streams beyond MBB services. Ericsson is enabling Time-Critical Communication through its new Critical IoT product – easily deployable as a software upgrade on public and private 5G networks, on any 5G frequency band.
The ongoing deployments of standalone 5G networks with Massive multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO), Quality of Service (QoS) differentiation, edge computing, and network slicing provide a solid foundation for delivering time-critical services in co-existence with mobile broadband, targeting consumer-driven innovative applications such as real-time media.
With an end-to-end solution that can consistently and reliably support time-critical applications and services, Ericsson is taking a crucial step forward to unlocking the full potential of 5G and delivering ROI for communications service providers.
Another business driver for Critical IoT is the emergence of non-public network for industrial use, which requires specific features such as integration of 5G with real-time Ethernet. So, this is the right time to think about how to evolve the different deployments for the new use cases, based on consistent (bounded) low latency and reliability to address new revenue streams.
The Ericsson e2e Critical IoT solution addresses four fundamental time-critical use case categories that are common across various verticals: real-time media, remote control, industrial control, and mobility automation. The solution also addresses three main network deployment scenarios: general public network infrastructure, dedicated network infrastructure in wide-area and dedicated network infrastructure in local-area. In addition, it addresses time-critical use cases in the wide area by adding support for Critical IoT connectivity to the NR carriers through SW upgrades.
Critical IoT is intended for time-critical applications and services that demand data delivery within a specified time duration with a certain guarantee; for example, data delivery within 50ms with 99.9 percent certainty (reliability). This is fundamentally different from enhanced mobile broadband connectivity, which maximizes data rates without any guarantee of latency. Early adoption of Ericsson’s Time-Critical Communication solution is expected for remote control and real-time media applications via public and dedicated networks.
In practical terms, where will we see C-IoT applied?
The majority of the emerging 5G applications are time-critical in nature, demanding reliable low latency connectivity. Most time-critical applications can be classified into the following four categories. Each category covers use cases with a wide range of time-critical requirements – from tens of milliseconds bounded latency down to single digit millisecond bounded latency.
Real-time media includes applications where media is produced and consumed in real-time, for example, interactive cloud gaming and cloud-based AR and VR for consumers and enterprises. Time-Critical Communication enables offloading of processing and rendering to the mobile network edge, thereby enabling the use of lightweight and cost-efficient devices (e.g., head-mounted).
Remote control refers to remote control of machines, equipment, and vehicles by people. Remote control can improve the work environment by moving humans out of inconvenient or hazardous areas and can give access to a broader workforce in offsite locations. Remote control is also an important functionality for autonomous vehicles, to take temporary control in case the autonomous function fails or requires assistance.
With Time-Critical Communication, real-time sensor information is transmitted from the teleoperated machine/vehicle to the remote operator, based on which reliable control commands are sent from the operator to the remotely controlled machine/vehicle.
Industrial control includes a broad set of use cases for industrial automation systems. For example, real-time process monitoring and control, controller-to-controller communication, smart grid control, machine vision for robotics, and motion control. Time-Critical Communication enables reliable exchange of real-time information between sensors, controllers, and actuators, which is a fundamental requirement. 5G connectivity offers great benefits in terms of mobility, flexibility, cost-cutting, and digitalization compared to wired communication that is dominant in industrial automation today.
Mobility automation refers to the automation of control loops for vehicles and mobile robots. Major applications in this category include automated guided vehicles, autonomous mobile robots, cooperative maneuvering of vehicles, critical communication for trains, and advanced intersection safety. Time-Critical Communication enables reliable real-time information exchange between moving vehicles/robots and the environment, for control and coordination.