The 5G test platform that Ericsson offers to innovators and service developers in the Urban ICT Arena (UICTA) now includes an edge cloud. Applications that need to be executed close to the end user – in other words, those that need very low latency or deal with a lot of local data – can now be tested in a real network environment. Find out more about this test environment and how it can support faster application development.
5G will not only provide connectivity but will also serve as a platform for new applications integrated in the network and executed in a distributed cloud environment. People, things and industries are increasingly dependent on the network, and a wide variety of applications support news ways of interacting and delivering services. We expect this trend to continue and to create opportunities for innovators from small and large companies.
We want people with great ideas for new 5G applications to be able to test them in a real scenario. The UICTA is an open testbed and co-creation arena in Kista, Sweden, that makes this possible, allowing developers to develop, test and showcase their ideas in an urban environment. Getting this chance to test ideas early will give them a head-start when 5G is deployed, as well as shortening the path to commercialization in real networks.
For applications that require fast response times and low latencies to the end user, the distance to a centralized cloud environment can degrade performance. But with a distributed cloud, these applications will be placed dynamically in distributed data centers embedded in the 5G network.
We can also look at the distributed processing of mobile video. By analyzing the video locally, and only sending the results of the analysis to a data center – not the full video flow – we can save a lot of capacity in the network.
To simplify the process for developers and platform providers, we also want to provide tools to automate the different phases of the application lifecycle from service definition to deployment and operation in the target infrastructure.
At the moment we have an OpenStack environment with simple orchestration capabilities. Over time, we want to introduce even more capable tools for automating service deployment and operation. In our research, both internally within Ericsson and in partner projects like the K5 project, we are working on standardized ways of doing this.
Here, TOSCA is an important tool. It is a standardized language for defining services and applications that is now being extended by ETSI to handle also the type of network services and applications we have in a 5G network. The goal is that developers would need to define services and needed components only once. Then the application could scale directly to the global market as 5G and related automation systems are put in place. And these new services would be fully integrated with 5G network from the start.
An example of how the new edge cloud platform can be used within the UICTA is the mobile virtual-reality (VR) application Ericsson Research has built together with KTH and Tobii in the SEEN project, which you can explore in the post 5G and eye-tracking enabling mobile VR. Johan Lundsjö, who works with the demo, says it works as an eye-opener:
“This demo is an excellent example of how a new application can take advantage of the lower latency in 5G. Many people who see the demo say they really understand what 5G can be used for.”
This demo showed an end-user application, but applications within transportation and industrial control with also offer good opportunities for innovation and are good examples of how the testbed is useful for testing new ideas.
Feedback we get from testing in environments like the UICTA is important for understanding application requirements. It will help in the work of getting the needed functionality in place in both the 5G standard and in the distributed cloud infrastructure in order to support requirements of developers.
Are you a developer with ideas for 5G applications? Based in the Stockholm area? Then get in touch with the Urban ICT Arena for a chance to test your application in our test bed.