The 5G standardization process is complex and highly innovative. With pioneering research and early collaborations with academia and other industries, we have developed and contributed to a standard that meets the needs of different industries and the society.
Ericsson is deeply involved in all areas of the process, ensuring aggressive performance targets of the end-to-end system in the 5G standardization work. By the time we reach wide-scale deployment, Ericsson is ready to advance industries and society on their digitalization journey. One significant proof point of our involvement is the foundation application that Ericsson filed in 2017. This patent application, which combines the work of 130 Ericsson inventors, is the largest in cellular communication in terms of number of inventors, anywhere in the world. Quite impressive.
The application includes everything an operator needs to build a complete 5G network. This shows Ericsson's innovative and collective approach in the standardization of 5G through a complete 5G network - rather than focusing on individual inventions. So no matter what the operator's needs are, Ericsson is here to create, assist and innovate.
How does 5G NR standardization work?
In this blog post Dr Stefan Parkvall, principal researcher at Ericsson Research, describes the work with the 5G New Radio (NR) standardization. Dr Parkvall is working with research on 5G and future radio access. He is one of the key persons in the development of HSPA, LTE and NR radio access and has been deeply involved in the 3GPP standardization for many years.
Standards that are anything but standard – 5G
In this blog post Ericsson' s CTO Erik Ekudden describes how our researchers already way back in 2010 and 2011 had a clear vision of what 5G could become. They threw themselves into their work, creating 5G testbeds with leading operators around the world. Without their passion for technology and its advancement, we wouldn't be telling such a compelling 5G story today.
Highlighted below are some of Ericsson's key contributions in the standard and that will have a great impact on the 5G system performance:
- 5G New Radio (NR) – will enable aggressive radio interface performance targets. This is made possible by our flexible and scalable numerology, which is compatible with LTE and ultra-lean transmissions
- The full 3GPP Release 15 New Radio (NR) - will enable stand-alone NR with user and protocol plane using the 5G next-generation core network
- 5G security – will improve subscriber untraceability, protection of subscriber identities and subscriber privacy. It also creates flexible identity management where different types of credentials can co-exist and function over a variety of access types
- 5G sustainability – will introduce a fundamental change of design principles from "always on" to "always available" resulting in high energy savings
- 5G core – will with the concept of network slicing and distributed cloud adapt to business environments that is significantly different from the business environment of today
5G radio access
5G wireless capabilities are expected to extend far beyond previous generations of mobile communication. And NR 5G standardization, along with the evolution of the existing LTE standard, will help achieve the same. The aim of 5G is much wider than enhanced mobile broadband and will have to meet aggressive performance targets. Some of the key technology components to reach these targets include flexible numerology and ultra-lean transmissions.
Flexible numerology with x*15kHz sub-carriers will result in good co-existence with LTE and NB-IoT, as well as very low latencies. Ultra-lean design enables future-proof and self-contained data transmissions as well as reduced interference to neighbor sites. The latter implies higher overall system capacity and enables higher end-user data rates as this would otherwise be limited by the interference from the "un-necessary" interference from the neighbor sites. The first version of NR was ready by the end of 2017, but the planning of the same started a long time ago.
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Ericsson is driving next-generation core networks in the 5G standardization for business environments, making it noticeably advanced from today's networks. One example in Ericsson's 5G core is the concept of network slicing providing significant enhancements to address new business opportunities. Another example is the introduction of, what we call, distributed cloud infrastructure. Industries are changing and with that data-intensive applications are changing too. We see a need to create a more decentralized infrastructure with compute and storage closer to the end customer, or the device. There are many reasons for this, which are not only latency related but also about regulatory compliance, resilience, and network scalability.
Ericsson is a strong advocate and driver of the integrated model for 5G Fixed Mobile Convergence. It includes the extension of the control plane into the home, exposing new value to the consumer. Enhanced automation is another key to realize efficient 5G networks as well as digitalization of the operator's business. Ericsson is in close cooperation with leading operators on the journey towards zero-touch operation.
Operators and vendors are on a journey towards cloud-native implementations of the 5G core network. And Ericsson is one of the main proponents of the Rel-16 eSBA study, that aims to further adapt the 3GPP specifications to cloud-native implementation and deployments.
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Better privacy and identity protection of subscribers is becoming more and more important for every organization that deals with personal date. 5G networks can further enhance security; one example is Ericsson's solution to improve subscriber untraceability, based on asymmetric encryption methods. By this, Ericsson laid the ground for improved privacy in the 5G standardization. We are also working to ensure that secure identities for IoT solutions become available to users and developers across different sectors and ecosystems. This we do by implementing flexible identity management, where different types of credentials suitable for constrained or more powerful devices can co-exist. Moreover, it will also function over a variety of access types – including secure storage technologies of credentials in devices.
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Ericsson is driving the shift from "always on" to "always available" in the 5G standardization for enabling high energy savings, without impacting other network KPI:s. To achieve this Ericsson has successfully pushed for ultra-lean design, where the basic principle is to avoid network transmission as much as possible when there is no data to transmit, and functionalities that can be dynamically activated on a per-need basis. This enables equipment to enter more extensive, or deeper, sleep-mode levels.