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Learn about the promise of 5G, drivers and use cases, and the roles of the BBF in catalyzing 5G broadband

An expectation being set for 5G

With the digital society poised to enter the 5G era, we know that consumers and business users will expect a perfect seamless experience across all their devices – anytime, anywhere – regardless of the underlying network. With the proliferation of new connected devices, services and access types, seamless connectivity implies a context-driven, connected experience. In fact, they will expect it to match the highest fixed broadband quality.

5G is an end-to-end system that involves all aspects of the network, with an architecture that achieves a high level of convergence while leveraging today’s access mechanisms (and their evolution); this includes fixed, wireless, and cellular access. This is the vision for network-based Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC). In fact, 5G can’t meet the consumer expectation without a robust high performance and always-available fixed transport network.

View Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) published paper on 5G

White Paper – Next Generation Mobile Networks on 5G – Find out more

The NGMN envisages 5G operating in a heterogeneous environment characterized by multiple types of access, multi-layer networks, and a wide variety of device types and user interactions*. There is a need for 5G to provide a seamless and consistent customer experience across time and space, i.e. an experience which is the same regardless of the access type and end-device. This implies many new scenarios beyond the obvious ones such as the seamless use of compute, entertainment, IoT and mobile devices in the home and office. The age of the automated vehicle is fast approaching and there is likely to be an expectation that intense network and compute resources will be available everywhere.

A cornerstone of FMC is to have one view of the customer. Since the intelligence lies mainly in the network, the architecture will support devices from a wide range of manufacturers. The FMC approach has the potential to significantly improve customer experience by providing the most appropriate connectivity, regardless of location. There are market imperatives for service providers to find new network-enabled ways to deliver an enhanced, seamless experience.

Network operators also have a pressing need to improve network efficiency. This can be done by better utilization of their existing fixed and mobile assets, providing integrated-connectivity based offerings, and simplifying and automating network provisioning and operation. FMC improves infrastructure efficiency by the use of a common, access-independent core, and can benefit from the flexibility of virtualized network functions. 5G can only intensify this since the more 5G looks like the fixed high-speed internet the more the expectation will be for a free utility.

Today’s fixed and mobile networks have different architectures, access mechanisms and network functions, and typically use device-controlled network selection. FMC allows the pooling of access assets, and dynamic traffic steering could contribute to reduced access network costs, as well as converged connectivity service propositions. This can be achieved by sending traffic over the fixed or the mobile network as appropriate, or even both networks simultaneously. One thing is clear: there will need to be more compute intelligence and performance nearer to consumers so that delivery of these services is viable.

Another important aspect is support of the vast number of IoT devices which are expected in the near future. The majority of IoT devices are low-bandwidth and will have some form of short-range, low-power radio technology like Bluetooth, ZigBee or Z-Wave; others will use Wi-Fi. A new generation of devices with advanced capabilities will also emerge and operators must find ways of ensuring efficient delivery of services to vast numbers of new devices in the converged network architecture. The diversity of network requirements drives the need for logical networks with different properties. This renews the pressure on more intelligent home networking including Wi-Fi, better integration with the fixed and mobile access networks.

The need for a holistic approach – Enter the BBF

The more you look at what it will take to economically deliver on its expectations the more it becomes obvious that the industry is dependent on the expertise and experience of the BBF. Not only is the BBF working on key WWC projects but is also constantly supporting enhanced home networking, high speed access technologies enabling distributed networking with projects such as CloudCO, and virtualized network projects.

A range of new FMC Standards is required, which will involve several organizations, that need to find efficient ways of working together to avoid duplication of effort and incompatible systems. The converged network functions should, wherever possible, be based on the common 5G functions that can be configured to suit the application and customer needs, regardless of the access.

BBF is committed to developing technical specifications addressing the Fixed Broadband system evolution related to 5G, while considering migration and operational integration. This is being done in close cooperation with 3GPP and other select global organizations.

The Business Case for 5G and BBF use cases and projects

In recent times, the concept of NFV (Network Functions Virtualization) was born out the desire to reduce costs by simplifying and unifying the design of network devices its business justification has been in specific cases such as SD-WAN and vCPE. With the advent of new serivce opportunities it will be important to focues on those use cases for 5G the have the most immediate business impact and viability for those providers who must invest in the infrastructure.

The BBF will clearly focus on those use cases which promise to bring the fastest return on investment. BBF members and non-members alike are encouraged to follow and actively participate in the cutting-edge work of the Forum in the area of 5G.

Business Drivers and Impact

  • 5G design requirements and technology enablers drive both mobile and fixed developments.
  • The Next Generation (5G) System will support:
    • Simultaneous connection to different accesses, capability to access the services provided by the 5G network using non-3GPP access
    • Inter-system mobility between 3GPP and non-3GPP networks with optional session continuity
    • Mobility between non-3GPP networks
    • Capability for the user equipment based on network control to discover and select the appropriate access
    • A common authentication framework
  • 5G-Fixed Mobile Convergence (5G-FMC) is one of the areas of high priority to be addressed, given that:
    • Seamless service experience is key for users and drives the need for full FMC
    • 5G services are to be deployed in an access-independent context across several access technologies (incl. wireless and wireline)
    • on-demand network services, e.g. different levels of mobility may be required according to the application needs
    • Multiple simultaneous attachments will be very common for certain devices and applications