For 2021 and beyond, NGMN’s priorities are to evaluate and to drive technology evolution towards 5G’s full implementation and in addition three major focus areas:
- mastering the Route to disaggregation, cloudification and softwarization
- sustainability/green networks
- 6G NGMN’s project portfolio is continuously adapted to meet these priorities
Mastering the Route to Disaggregation
Network Disaggregation E2E Operating Model
- Carlos Fernandes, Deutsche Telekom
The NGMN Alliance aims to lead in mastering the route to OPEN, DISAGGREGATED, VIRTUALISED and CLOUD NATIVE SOLUTIONS.
The objective of the project is to focus on the end-to-end operating model. It will consider, amongst other, the following key aspects: processes, technology/tools and skill requirements. It also aims to providing guidance towards the industry players on the roles and opportunities provided by disaggregation.
Sustainability/Green Future Networks
Green Future Networks
- Ana Maria Galindo Serrano, Orange
- Saima Ansari, Deutsche Telekom
Society awareness of the fact that resources are not inexhaustible is leading to new behaviours and demanding that companies become more responsible. Mobile technology is an essential tool for economic and social development, but it is also an industry that has environmental impacts (contribution to climate change, depletion of natural resources, energy consumption, etc.).
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is now becoming a major issue for telcos in general and for their ecosystem.
Furthermore, one of the biggest technical challenges arising in the last years for operators is to stabilize or even reduce their energy expense despite of the increase in the data traffic and the network deployments. The motivation behind this ambition are of paramount importance since they go from the responding to the CSR demands to making business cost-effective.
To prepare for the next standards and next generation we need to be able to accurately measure the environmental impact of services.
The new French law that obliges operators as of the first January 2022 to “inform their subscribers of the quantity of data consumed in the context of providing access to the network and indicate the equivalent of the corresponding greenhouse gas emissions” shows that this topic begins to be an obligation and not simply something convenient to have.
To provide an answer there is the need to take into account the full life cycle of services, including the devices used to access to them. This means developing a holistic analysis considering also, inter alia, the emissions a company is responsible for outside of its own walls, from the goods it purchases to the disposal of the products it sells and uses.
Last but not least, electricity consumption is the operational expense that will probably continue to increase and it also represents the operators’ principal source of greenhouse gas emissions. Increasing the green techniques enabling a more energy-efficient network, is fundamental since the number of customers and the usages continue to grow, which implies an increase of the network’s energy consumption.
The IT network consumes the most energy in the content delivery process. That is the reason why a greater effort in terms of next generation energy efficiency as well as identifying the network parts consuming the most is fundamental.
We need to anticipate changes in the adoption of current digital products and services as well as the demand for more virtuous practices such as low-digital consumption. To do so there are two major areas to cover, the end-to-end services footprint and the eco-design of products. Moreover, the new mechanisms introduced by 5G improve the energy efficiency of networks and optimize their carbon footprint. These techniques can be further studied and exploited.
Finally, the use of on-board metering will allow to better identify the energy-intensive parts of the network in order to optimize them.
6G Vision and Drivers
NGMN 6G Vision and Drivers Project from NGMN Office on Vimeo.
- Quan Zhao, China Mobile
- Narothum Saxena, US Cellular
- David Lister, Vodafone
- Deliver 6G vision, drivers, use cases and end-to-end system requirements from operators’ perspective and provide timely guidance to the industry
- Play a key role in avoiding fragmentation of 6G standards and ecosystem to achieve affordable deployments
- Identify a set of high-level business drivers including social responsibility aspects and MNO operational aspects
- Develop requirements by taking a customer centric view
- Engage with different stakeholders, monitor external 6G activities and facilitate bilateral exchange with external organizations at the right time
- Identify and analyse relevant SDO’s and industry organisations to ensure most effective impact
- Collect 6G information and views
Supporting 5G’s Full Potential
Future Networks Cloud Native Platform
- Fabrizio Moggio, Telecom Italia
- Andreas Volk, HPE
The evolution of the 5G Networks leverages on technological and modelling approaches such as cloudification, service-based architecture, network capabilities exposure, network as a service, zero touch management, just to report some of main ones. This evolution is introducing a big technological challenge, giving hype to a paradigm change with new opportunities for a Telco to be actively involved in a wider ecosystem of application service offering. It is important, indeed, to look at the 5G Networks not as predesigned and static Telco infrastructure but as a flexible and open Telco Platform. This platform fosters a new ecosystem for Operators, Developers, Vendors and Verticals to exploit together a new holistic and rich model for application service offering. The Developers can build new type of applications leveraging on the unique Telco assets and features that can be open and easily managed due to current technological evolution.
The above-mentioned aspects are addressed from a technology point of view in many standards bodies and associations. The purpose of this project is to assess what is being done in the different associations, provide an holistic and complete view of the architectural scenario, give guidance of how to proceed and select the best achievements fitting a future-proof vision. The project clearly avoids duplication of already existing work.
Operators need to find a way to intercept the value chain of innovative vertical services enabled by 5G. The majority of the “verticals” Telcos are looking at, are built around cloud-based services leveraging on open APIs and that needs an open, standard and homogeneous Telco platform that is based on the same architectural principles. The proper positioning of Telco in the Cloud business with 5G is fundamental. Hybrid cloud (e.g. Edge Computing) architecture and business models must be properly addressed. The adoption of a Cloud Native infrastructure for Telco will enable technology proximity with Cloud Service Providers and exploit the Data Center technology market.
Good opportunity in the Telco market is provided by initiatives pursuing key interfaces opening (e.g. ORAN) and HW disaggregation. This could potentially lead to open the vendor landscape and reduce the TCO.
End to end service and infrastructure automation and orchestration are key factors to exploit a cloud approach and obtain network efficiency and fast time to market.
To reach an heterogenous ecosystem of Developers, it is important for Operators to be able to build a common architecture, with sustainability in mind, and creating the basis for a Telco platform for Hybrid Cloud. Edge Computing is a unique occasion for Telcos to exploit Hybrid Cloud using their distinctive infrastructure and services, pivoting on capillary infrastructure and traffic break-out capabilities.
Work on the overall architecture has started with the first draft to be expected in September 2020.
A joint working group with the “RAN Functional Split” project started to address RAN Cloudification.
In addition, work on the identification of economical drivers has started.
RAN Functional Split
Richard MacKenzie, BT
This project looks at the opportunities and challenges around having a disaggregated 5G RAN. As well as understanding the various RAN functional splits, the project aims to understand the transport requirements to support the various deployment options. As a wide number of industry activities are related to this subject, the team also looks to encourage industry alignment.
The first deliverable in early 2018 provided an overview of industry activities, and identified common terms, which have in general being adopted by the wider industry. In April 2019 a second deliverable gave a review of the various transport options that might be considered in a disaggregated RAN, reviewed the 3GPP F1 higher layer split specification (including a detailed security review), and highlighted the latest developments in the recently published O-RAN fronthaul interface.
The current activities are focussed on providing more detailed deployment recommendations for various transport options, based on the selection of RAN functional split. As the O-RAN fronthaul interface is now more mature, the project is also conducting a review of security considerations.
Vertical Industry Engagement
- Giovanni Romano, Telecom Italia
- Increasing the collaboration between Verticals and MNOs and demonstrating how MNOs can play a fundamental role in applications for industry. This will support MNOs with providing services to Verticals.
- Collaboration between MNOs and Verticals by showcasing successful use cases.
- Demonstration of automation, downtime reduction, cost savings, increase in productivity and improvement in employee safety
Service Based Architecture (Phase 3)
- Dan Wang, China Mobile
- Hans Einsiedler, Deutsche Telekom
The team is working on a White Paper called “5G Network Customization Based on Service Based Architecture”, which includes the following topics:
- Service based architecture enhanced for UPF (user plane function)
- Support for Edge Computing
- Agile and Customized 5G network (AC5N)
- Definition and case study and dynamic control mechanism of Super Slice
5G Architecture Option 4 for 5G Standalone
- Raimund Walsdorf, Deutsche Telekom
- Peter Stevens, Deutsche Telekom
The commercial introduction of 5G started with deployments of New Radio (NR) technology based on the Non-Stand-Alone NW architecture (NSA), also known as “Option 3X” or EN-DC, which always requires an underlaying LTE carrier and connection to a 4G EPC. However, the full set of 5G benefits will only be realized once a new 5G Core NW (5GC) is introduced, enabling new 5GC-based services as well as providing 5G Stand-Alone (SA) operation, without dependency on LTE to act as an underlaid master technology.
This NGMN project intends to elaborate the advantages of Option 4 and to demonstrate the potential in an Option 4 field trial.
5G Trial and Testing Initiative
- Philippe Besson, Orange
- Enabling a global collaboration on testing activities
- Consolidating contributions and report on industry progress
- Testing future 5G use-cases with industry stakeholders (e.g. from vertical industries)
in order to
- Support an efficient, successful, and in-time 5G technology and service introduction
- Ensure the development of globally aligned 5G technology and service solutions
- Identify and promote new business opportunities
All leading global Operators, Vendors and Research Institutes involved in a 4 phases endeavour. The activities are conducted autonomously by the Partners. The Trial Initiative make them consistent e.g. by common test specifications and by comparison and sharing of the results.
“Pre-commercial network trials” is the one remaining active phase in this very successful 5G TTI project.
The White Paper “NGMN 5G Pre-commercial Networks Trials – Major Conclusions” (mostly NSA) was publicly released in January 2020.
The last task of this project stream is related to NSA and SA oriented trials and has received commitments for contribution from major Operators.
The team expects that the final report of this last 5G TTI phase will be ready before end of 2020.
Devices and Chipsets for 5G
- Camillo Carlini, Telecom Italia
- Xize Wang, China Mobile
The project’s main objectives can be structured in four lines of actions:
- to systematically collect and communicate info on 5G status (conformance testing, field tests), test platform validation, availability of certified devices, 5G field test qualified (FTQ) operators live networks
- to discuss, aggregate and prioritize operators technical requirements for 5G devices, based on different UE types (eMBB, IoT, URLLC, Industrial…) and degree of maturity of targeted features (with regards to 3GPP Release: 15, 16…)
- to discuss test methodologies and benchmarks to evaluate over-the-air performance of 5G commercial devices; this may include a part on 5G devices power consumption performances
- to analyse and define way-forward on how to handle, in real deployment scenarios, the coexistence between legacy devices, 5G NSA devices and 5G SA devices
The purpose of the deliverable from phase 1 is to provide a use-case based categorization of 5G devices implementing 3GPP Rel-15 relevant technical specifications.
In particular, 5G devices coming to market between 2H 2019 and 1H 2020 are addressed.
For each 5G devices category (among eMBB, Fixed Wireless Access and Industrial), a set of mandatory and recommended features is defined.
One of main project’s deliverable, i.e. “5G Devices Categorization White Paper” v1.0 was published in March 2020.
A set of Liaison Statements towards other Organizations (e.g. 3GPP RAN4, CTIA PTCRB) was sent to assess the status of work on 5G OTA performance requirements.
A related deliverable (5G OTA White Paper) is expected in September.
The project team started joint conference calls with GCF to initiate the first version of a joint White Paper on the 5G Devices Certification Status Report.
This paper shall include a gap analysis between 5G GCF-certified features and NGMN requirements defined in the “5G Devices Categorization White Paper” mentioned above.
Base Station Antenna Standardization (Active Antennas)
- Bruno Biscontini (Huawei)
The project team published release 1 of their White Paper in April. The document contains
- Electrical & mechanical key performance parameters
- Digital data exchange of specifications
- EMF exposure mechanisms to monitor & control RF power
- Specification & testing of mixed passive-active systems using mechanical integration kit
Work on release 2 of the White Paper was kicked off in May. The team preliminary agreed to work on the following topics:
- EMF field trials, field tests of counters
- Test modes
- FR2 AAS (mmWaves)
- GPS sensors.
Base Station Antenna Standardization (Passive Antennas)
- Hans Obermaier (Huawei)
- Jürgen Rumold (Ericsson)
- Roberto Vallauri (TIM)
The result of the project on Base Station Antenna Standards is an Implementation Recommendation which helps the telecommunication industry to establish industry-wide accepted antenna standards for the benefit of its customers.
The scope of the project is to:
- Collect existing base station antenna standards
- Develop specific recommendations on standards
- Update the currently existing Whitepaper
A subgroup on wind load and related topics has been defined, which currently works on parameter and method definition.
RF Cluster Connector Task Force
- Tomas Sedlacek, Deutsche Telekom
- Henk Tubbe, Orange
In phase one the project was targeting the early 5G 8T8R deployment with time to market as key driver. In phase 2 the project team is putting the high priority focus on port mapping and then focus on other scope (FDD specifications etc.). The definition of cluster connector spectifications for FDD through multiple vendors measurements of commercial cluster products is also part of phase two of the project.
Phase 2 of the project focused on port naming conventions for MQ4/MQ5 connectors (defined at the end of Phase 1, earlier last year), addressing TDD 8T8R passive antennas and radios (4G and 5G NR).
The published deliverable (version 1.5, Recommendation on RF Cluster Connector PHASE 2 – Antenna to Radio Module Pinout Alignment) is available for download.
In phase 3, the project team will focus on new high power cluster connector for legacy 4T4R or alternatively 4T2R FDD antennas (higher power capabilities requested by the market).
Connector choice having to be a long lasting solution, OEMs have been requested to provide their RRU power capabilities (from existing roadmaps), that will be translated into specific connector requirements, respecting the required low-PIM constraints for FDD systems.
5G IPR Forum
- Serge Raes, Orange
- The NGMN IPR Forum is a unique platform to engage with relevant industry partners in order to discuss present-day licensing practices and related issues across different industry segments. The IPR Forum is focusing on the development of 5G and beyond
- to promote a licensed 5G ecosystem,
- to improve the transparency of Standard Essential Patents (SEP) declarations to 5G SDOs,
- to build trust on essentiality checks in Standard Essential Patents (SEP) declarations to 5G SDOs,
- to adapt and expand the patent pooling, and
- to address the emerging need for software licensing in the mobile industry and, in particular, as regards Open Source.
- The work is done in consensus with operators, contributors and advisors.
In continuation of the past IPR activities and in line with the Business Objectives of the first NGMN White Paper in 2015, the IPR Plenary has focussed on formulating recommendations related to Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in 5G.
The agreed 4 recommendations have been integrated into the chapter 7 of the second NGMN White Paper which was published recently. All four recommendations are intended to support the 5G ecosystem:
- 5G products and applications on the market should be adequately licensed and appropriate measures should be considered to enable the ecosystem to distinguish between licensed and unlicensed products;
- 5G SDO should consider requiring each patent holder member to declare timely to the SDO its potentially essential patents (SEP) and at least to declare the member’s licensing position for its SEP, and that the SDO makes these received declarations publicly available not later than upon publication of the adopted standard and anyway shortly after receiving them;
- a certain level of trust should be built among the industry players; this may be achieved if a SEP is subject to some kind of essentiality check(s) before being reported with its declaration, which may be updated afterwards; and
- patent pool administrators are encouraged to pursue a dialogue with the SEP holders, prospective licensees, representatives of the various regulators, and themselves in order to explore and build new ways of providing sustainable patent pooling services that seek to address and benefit the 5G ecosystem.
NGMN will continue to provide with its IPR Forum a platform where the likely concerned parties – possibly including SDO and patent offices – may anticipate and address the potential issues in an open and inclusive manner.
NGMN will engage into further activities related to essentiality checks of declared SEP, e.g. with the European Commission after publication of their report of their pilot project on essentiality checks.
5G Security Competence Team
- Minpeng Qi, China Mobile
- Focus on 5G security related topics raised by other NGMN
- In addition working on security of network capability exposure in 5G
- Revising and updating deliverables produced by the previous security work stream
- Stefan Apetrei, Orange
Providing continuous contributions to international fora and groups regarding NGMN spectrum requirements, in order to ensure the allocation of sufficient spectrum for future 5G services.
The project is currently in dormant mode.