5G will enable the smart cities and vehicles of the future if the proper preparations are made in today’s OSS and network environments.
December 4, 2018
Smart transport is one of the most compelling use cases in visions of the smart city, incorporating everything from today’s connected cars to autonomous vehicles and passenger drones of the future. What hasn’t been entirely clear thus far is what combination of technologies will be required to make these concepts a reality and how much of this new technologies’ business is addressable by service providers. What is becoming obvious, however, is that 5G will have an important role to play.
The connectivity requirements for connected cars currently center around the telemetry data coming from sensor arrays embedded in the vehicles as well as network or satellite connectivity to provide entertainment and navigation. While most connectivity services today can be handled over existing 4G wireless standards, technologies that will enable self-driving vehicles and smart cities, such as cellular-vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X), will require 5G connectivity. C-V2X, for example, is a peer-to-peer wireless archetype—now standardized by 3GPP—which allows smart vehicles to communicate with each other and with the smart city-enabled infrastructure to share complex data about the physical surroundings in the immediate area.
The vastly increased bandwidth of 5G RAN will allow vehicles to exchange huge amounts of data and evolve C-V2X from a technology that provides basic warnings about upcoming obstacles into a chief enabler of self-driving vehicles. Using a combination of existing cellular spectrum and millimeter band radio communications, a mesh of line-of-sight vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-network communications will provide all of the required data to safely drive on public roads. While C-V2X can work independently from a cellular network, it is only the combination of the two that will form the required smart vehicle communications solutions; 5G RAN will supercharge the quality of service.
1. 5G Network Slicing as a Key Enabler of Smart Vehicle Ambitions
Beyond the automotive telemetry of the vehicles themselves, 5G network slicing will provide dedicated network services to smart vehicles for entertainment, emergency services, logistics and a wide range of other functions. As cars become self-driving, they will turn into an extension of the users’ own home or workplace, which means rich media will be streamed into the vehicles. Dedicated network slices can be applied to many scenarios in this next societal phase as vehicles and the surrounding cities become smart and connected; 5G is one of the key enablers of that future.
2. Orchestration is Critical to Providing Service-Centric E2E Network Slices
The network and software architecture required to provide a variety of network slices comprises an advanced and modernized set of systems. Service orchestration paradigms that have been championed over the past five years in advanced OSS architectures will be extended over multiple interacting orchestrators to facilitate the provisioning and control of an end-to-end service. This is where the combination of 5G RAN, an NFV/SDN-empowered core and a next-generation OSS become an extremely powerful package.
In modern telecom infrastructures, service orchestration is now a well-understood concept, but the network slice proof of concept trials underway are still centered around orchestration interoperability and maintaining service-centric master control across different network domains. This reinforces the need for open systems, multivendor interoperability, service-specific configurations from a scalable, cloud-native platform, as well as microservices-based architecture. All of these tenets of digital service management are essential to provide real-time, dynamic control over a network slice dedicated to a smart vehicle in a real-world setting.
3. 5G, Virtualization and Hybrid Service Management are the Pillars of Success
As mass 5G rollouts are brought into service in 2019, most service providers will have some virtualized network capabilities in their core, backhaul and edge network domains. The third essential component is a modernized hybrid service management stack that can unlock advanced applications required by smart vehicles.
Without service-focused master control in the OSS, new network capabilities across both the fixed and radio environments will be unable to provide compelling end-user services and functionality in the smart vehicle market. Now is the time to ensure that the correct software architectures are in place before 5G competition takes off in the early 2020s.