MANAGING DIRECTOR JONESTHEFONE CONSULTING
In the automotive sector, safety critical applications such as driver behaviour monitoring will create a new value chain between insurers, car manufacturers and network operators.
Analysing video footage of a driver’s behaviour at the wheel requires on-board data-processing, making in-vehicle solutions expensive, hard to upgrade, quickly outdated and therefore out of reach for the mass market. With 5G, a simple in-vehicle camera can be linked to machine analysis, running in an edge computing node inside the network, close to the connected car. Close proximity means lowest possible latency, which improves responsiveness, helping to prevent accidents. Offloading data processing lowers the in-vehicle bill of materials, reduces cost with shared resources and makes it easier to upgrade and scale the service.
This is just one example from the automotive sector. Starting with an ‘anchor application’ like driver monitoring, a range of smart vehicle services can, of course, be added on top. Streaming video footage from vehicles to network edge compute is an example of the increasingly symmetrical demand with 5G. It’s not just about downloading any more.
Vodafone, Saguna & AWS demonstrate edge computing for driver behavior monitoring
With 5G, augmented reality will go mainstream. In tourism, there are already many examples of fantastic augmented reality experiences, such as at Barcelona’s Casa Batlló, designed by renowned Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí. However, these experiences can generally only be offered on a custom tablet - supplied by the venue - which has the AR application pre-loaded. 5G and edge computing will allow these AR applications to run on the visitor’s own device – and also to augment the visitor’s experience on a city-wide basis!
Augmented Reality Tourism Guide – Casa Batlló
Consumers and industries need a 5G revolution and this, in turn requires disruptive network innovation. Yes, it’s about a boost in bandwidth – but it’s also about a major diversification of needs, especially considering the massive growth of IoT - most estimates predict we’ll soon be seeing tens of billions of connected devices with a wide range of device functions. This growth and diversity of demand will require not just new radio technologies but also network slicing and virtualization, low latency and edge computing.
The industry is responding to these new demands through initiatives such as the Telecom Infra Project (TIP). TIP was founded in 2016 by Facebook and some of the world’s largest network operators and brings together operators, vendors, developers, integrators and startups to work on transforming the traditional network design & deployment approach. TIP Project Groups include Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN), Open Optical and Packet Transport, Virtualised RAN (vRAN) Fronthaul, Edge Computing and End-to-End Network Slicing.
5G’s massive IoT and low latency capabilities will transform industrial processes. In warehouses, wireless drones will carry out autonomous stock checks, scanning barcodes and updating inventory management systems, up to 50 times faster than manual checks and with far more flexibility than fixed robotics. The tight coordination of the drones in an indoor space is enabled by low latency communications between a drone controller and the drone fleet.
Unmanned Life: Autonomous inventory check – Enabling the digital factory and smart warehouse of the future
For the consumer, 5G will transform mobile video. HD will become the new baseline for streaming TV, movies and sports on the move, with 4k and even 8k ultra-HD on the horizon. 360 video will allow users to share their surroundings with friends and colleagues. Research into HD video shows that in today’s 4G networks – where video content is stored and served from outside the mobile operator’s network, users could typically experience five or six seconds of stalling in a three minute video. With 5G and edge computing, on the other hand, such problems are eliminated
Telecom Infra Project: We are creating a new approach to building and deploying telecom network infrastructure
The impact of 5G architecture on the physical fibre infrastructure is going to be profound. Network virtualization and network slicing allow multiple network domains (e.g. RAN and edge computing) to share common infrastructure. Radio frequency elements will remain collocated at towers, but baseband processing will be concentrated in micro-datacentres at the network edge, each serving a cluster of towers. Meanwhile, edge computing for applications such as video delivery, AR and IoT is being distributed towards the network edge and will share compute resources in these micro-datacentres with baseband workloads. A new ‘fronthaul’ fibre infrastructure is required between towers and micro-datacentres. The bandwidth challenge moves from backhaul to fronthaul.
Inevitably, 5G causes an inflection in demand for fibre connectivity – and that demand will increasingly be concentrated at the network edge.
Andy Jones started his career as an engineer at Vodafone, before progressing to become Head of UK Network Strategy & Architecture. He now works with operators, technology providers and investors – and serves on the advisory boards of several telecom startup companies. An evangelist for edge computing, he chaired the International Conference on Edge Computing in 2015, 2016 and 2017. He is currently working with Facebook as an advisor on the Telecom Infrastructure Project (TIP).
Simone Mangiante, Vodafone Group: The potential of Multi-access Edge Computing for high resolution video delivery