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How about a slice of 5G to boost your business?
Stian Kristoffer Sande 07/02/2020 00:00:00

5G experiments are rolling, as a part of the industry collaboration called 5G VINNI, an EU-funded initiative. The latest experiments take a look at the impact of 5G on businesses of the future.

“This result is great news for many of the different vertical industries we are working with.”

Pål Grønsund, Senior Research Scientist at Telenor Research, points at a picture of a measuring device that displays the number “1”.

“1 gigabyte per second. That’s the uploading speed we managed to reach during an experiment at a 5G test site in 5G-VINNI. For industries that require high uplink speeds, this is nothing less but sensational compared to today’s standards.”

“Major competitive advantage”
The experiment conducted by Grønsund and his team is part of a vast series of 5G projects that are run by the participants of the pan-European 5G-VINNI project. The project’s objective is to accelerate the uptake of 5G in Europe by providing an end-to-end facility (E2E). The E2E consists of several interconnected test facility sites spread across the continent that lowers the entry barrier for vertical industries to pilot 5G technology use cases. 5G-VINNI officially began running in 2018, and Telenor Group is coordinating the project.

“There is much to gain from performing experiments at these sites, as the current technology standard at these localities is still a year or more away from being rolled out commercially. Validating concepts early can give businesses a major competitive advantage,” says Patrick Waldemar, Vice President and Head of Technology in Telenor Research.

“5G will be driven by business cases,” says Sigve Brekke, President and CEO of Telenor Group, in a TV interview with CNBC.

A slice of 5G all to yourself
Businesses are not the only ones discovering the 5G advance. This technology’s massive speeds and scale potential has captured the interest of the governments as well. For example, the Norwegian Armed Forces is currently conducting tests with 5G-VINNI in Norway at Fornebu.

“The participation in 5G-VINNI is giving us deep and very useful information about the possibilities in 5G technology. Currently, we are looking into the possibility of how we can run important applications in our dedicated Defence Network Slice in a remote Edge Computer. Our goal is to create local autonomy for important services like voice and messaging in an area covered by 5G and an Edge Computer. The testing gives us a unique opportunity to explore the potential of 5G and how to overcome possible hurdles,” says Kennet Nomeland, Radio System Architect at Norwegian Defence Material Agency.

One such hurdle could be network disturbance.

“5G is designed to support and serve billions of devices and diverse use cases through one common network. If too many devices connect to the same physical network at the same time, you could experience disturbance. This is where network slicing comes in handy,” Grønsund explains.

Network slicing refers to the process of creating multiple logical networks over the same physical platform. One of the great benefits of slicing is that all slices can function separately without affecting or being affected by the other slice’s traffic.

“For first responders, like the police, paramedics, firefighters, and the army, a reliable network is extremely important. Some of the functions that we validate with them are the network’s ability to create a fully isolated slice that’s not connected to the internet. Other tests include validation of equipping the slice with End-to-End encryption, providing it with a seamless fixed mobile convergence, and giving the slice priority when required,” says Grønsund.

“If we succeed with our testing, I believe many others also will be interested in similar solutions, says Kenneth Nomeland of the Norwegian Armed Forces.

New phase, new objectives
Although the current experimentation focus in Norway is with the military use case, other cases such as fish farming with video analytics, colon cancer detection, and factory of the future, with automation, are also being tested at the facility site.

“Similarly, there are advanced use cases in other sites such as in the UK, where the experimentation currently is focused on health care, industry 4.0 and multimedia broadcasting,” says Grønsund.

Having recently entered a new stage, new objectives for the 5G-VINNI project to pursue have also emerged.

“Our focus areas include implementing StandAlone 5G architecture, as this will realise efficient and real 5G network slicing. Another is implementing end-to-end automation to achieve zero-touch management and operations, which is key when delivering differentiated services to various vertical industries. Much of the time going forward will be dedicated to cooperating with the vertical industries to design, implement and test their use cases,” says Grønsund.

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