Italy floats the idea of a nationalised broadband network

With a suspiciously positioned government, perhaps we should not be surprised Italy is going against popular trends by proposing a nationalised broadband network.

Italian government minister Alessandro Morelli has suggested forming a new, state-controlled company, which would merge Telecom Italia’s broadband network and state-owned Open Fiber’s assets, according to Reuters. Few European states would consider such a proposition, though with the current political landscape in Italy, perhaps we should have expected such an idea.

After this year’s election resulted in a hung-parliament, law professor Giuseppe Conte was appointed as the prime minister despite not having run for office. Conte currently has the support of both League and the Five Star Movement, two fringe political parties who have found themselves with a surprising amount of influence. ‘Fight the power’ political parties are gathering support across Europe, though few have the potential to have a material impact on its country as League and the Five Star Movement.

Earlier this month, League leader Matteo Salvini suggested the government should be in control of assets which deal with public data, though this is the first time where the broadband assets have been specifically mentioned. While there are examples of nationalised networks around the world, there are few examples in Europe.

For those who do not like the idea of nationalised networks, rest assured this situation will not emerge in the UK, not under the current government at least. Speaking at The Great Telco Debate in London, Ofcom’s Director of Strategy, Clive Carter, underlined the regulators position of private competition.

“In the UK, we want to see multiple, competing networks in the vast majority of the UK,” said Carter. “Why do we want that? Why is the idea of nationalisation and a single monopoly bad? I think what has been shown right across Europe is that competition is what drives investment. Its the risk and fear that someone else is going to come along and eat your lunch that pushes you to invest and innovate.”

Some might suggest a nationalised network is the best route towards closing the digital divide and creating a full-fibre network, though that is not the position in the UK. The idea of a company which is not under quarterly financial pressure does sound good in theory, though there are few examples of successfully reversing privatisation to quote.

ZTE may be in trouble with the US yet again

Reports indicate ZTE is suspected of being naughty, yet again, with respect to US government conditions for being able to operate there.

Reuters had got hold of a letter from a couple of US senators, asking their government to look into whether or not ZTE worked with individuals on its persona non grata list. This sort of thing usually refers to countries the US disapproves of an in this case it’s Venezuela, which is in the middle of a communist, authoritarian misadventure of North Korean proportions.

In common with all such projects Venezuela has prioritised spying on and victimising its own citizens in a bid to protect the ruling elite from the perfectly reasonable opposition their sociopathic activities receive. The gripe, apparently, is that US components helped Venezuela’s government to flout democratic processes or human rights. Shocking.

The specific project involves ZTE helping the Venezuelan state build a database that would track its citizens though a national ID card scheme, rather creepily called ‘the fatherland card’. The senators reckon some of the datacenters ZTE helped create used Dell gear, and the document Reuters saw would appear to confirm that.

The Senators are likely to get a sympathetic hearing from the US government, which has had it in for Chinese telecoms companies for years. ZTE only just rescued itself from apparent doom earlier this year by handing over loads of money and promising to be squeaky clean from now on. The consequences of ZTE being found guilty of a fourth strike don’t bear thinking about.

What is China doing to accelerate 5G transport network deployment?

What is China doing to accelerate 5G transport network deployment?

Since the 1980s, a new generation of revolutionary mobile communication technologies has emerged every decade. Mobile communication evolved from 1G to 4G, with a focus on people-to-people communication. In the future, 5G will become deeply integrated with technologies such as cloud computing, big data, AI, and VR/AR, shifting communications from people-to-people to people-to-machine and machine-to-machine.

The wave of investment accompanying 5G is spreading into all fields, nurturing new information products and services and reshaping traditional ICT development models. This in turn drives socioeconomic development.

5G development in China

China is prioritizing 5G technology and has issued an array of corresponding policy documents to accelerate its progress. In February 2013, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), and Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) jointly established an IMT-2020 (5G) promotion group to accelerate 5G research and encourage international cooperation by aggregating industry, university, and research institute resources. To date, China has constructed the world’s largest 5G pilot network in Huairou District, Beijing, and completed three stages of experiments with remarkable achievements.

New challenges for transport network

5G will bring a revolutionary service experience and new business models. However, it also imposes many new requirements on transport networks. Existing transport technical specifications, network architectures, and functions cannot meet the requirements of emerging 5G services and applications, making innovation in 5G transport evolution a priority.

Improving 5G service performance and network architecture can help fulfill new transport requirements. Compared with 4G, 5G uses wider wireless spectrums and massive MIMO, increasing peak bandwidth and experience bandwidth tenfold or more. New services, such as telemedicine and autonomous driving, require millisecond-level ultra-low latency and high reliability. To meet diverse transport requirements, 5G provides various functions, such as network slicing, flexible networking and scheduling, collaborative management and control, and high-precision synchronization. 5G promises intelligence, flexibility, efficiency, and openness, but requires transport network architecture to evolve.

Promoting 5G transport

In January 2018, the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT) collaborated with China’s big three operators – China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom – and multiple network device, module and chip, and test instrument vendors, including Huawei, to jointly establish a 5G transport promotion group, which aims to advance innovation in key 5G technologies and solutions. The group has been working with industry stakeholders to develop and test 5G transport solutions. These efforts are contributing to 5G commercialization and improving China’s international competitiveness in the field.

At the IMT-2020 (5G) Summit held in Shenzhen in June, 2018, the group released a white paper on 5G transport requirements. In addition to three major performance requirements – higher bandwidth, ultra-low latency, and high-precision synchronization – the white paper lists six networking and function requirements that transport networks must meet:

 Multi-layer transport
 Flexible connections
 Hierarchical network slicing
 Intelligent collaborative management and control
 4G/5G hybrid transport
 Low-cost high-speed networking

At the 5G Innovative Development Summit held on September 28, 2018, the group released a white paper on 5G transport network architecture and solutions. It summarizes the typical 5G transport network architecture and analyzes technical solutions and key technologies for the forwarding plane, for collaborative management and control, and for the time synchronization network. It also forecasts the industry’s development trends in China, and proposes suggestions for the future development of 5G transport. By the end of 2018, the group is expected to release several special research achievements on management and control architecture, the 5G transport-specific optical module, and high-precision synchronization.

Key points for 5G transport development

Seeking common ground but maintaining differences to promote industry development
China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom have proposed different 5G transport network solutions, including SPN, M-OTN, and IP RAN enhancement. The SPN and IP RAN enhancement solutions are based on IP/MPLS and carrier-class lightweight TDM technologies for Ethernet enhancement, helping to achieve bandwidth isolation, deterministic low latency, and network hard slicing. They aim to use one network to transport multiple services, such as 5G and private line services.

The M-OTN solution is based on traditional OTN enhancement transportation, but simplifies the OTN and enables it to meet the development trend of packet services and the low-latency requirements of 5G fronthaul, midhaul, and backhaul. This solution aims to efficiently transport 5G, private line, and other services on OTN networks.
Market requirements, industry chain robustness, and overall network costs determine whether these solutions can be widely deployed.

When developing 5G transport solutions, multiple factors must be considered, including network features, service requirements, and cost. By analyzing CRAN, 5G core network cloudification, DC-centric deployment solutions, and network support for IPv6, we have the following suggestions for the future development of 5G transport networks’ forwarding plane technologies and applications:
 5G fronthaul

In regions with abundant fiber resources and those with low fiber deployment costs, low-cost optical fiber direct-connection solutions are preferred. For other regions, selecting a fronthaul solution by considering factors such as network costs and O&M management requirements is the best course of action.

 5G backhaul
The L2VPN+L3VPN or L3VPN-to-edge solution can be used for 5G transport networks that have been newly constructed or evolved from existing 4G networks.

 IPv6 support
Due to the shortage of IPv4 addresses, 5G transport networks must support IPv4/IPv6 dual-stack and 6vPE forwarding.

Adopting SDN-aided intelligent management and control

5G transport network architecture is changing and imbuing 5G networks with new characteristics such as network slicing, L3-to-edge deployment, and full-mesh network connections. In addition, 5G transport networks must support 4G, 5G, private line, and other types of services deployed in various modes. These impose new requirements on transport network management and control.

A 5G transport network management and control platform should provide the following functions:
 Agile and flexible service provisioning
Provides plug-and-play, automated planning, and fast deployment, and support minute-level, on-demand, and automated service provisioning.

 Multi-layer and multi-domain flexible end-to-end (E2E) control
Implements cross-layer and cross-domain service deployment and efficient O&M.

 Network slice-based management and control
Manages and controls slices that carry network resources to meet the network slicing requirements of the upper-layer network, which includes automated network slice deployment, slice resource isolation, service deployment on slice networks, and slice network O&M.

 Efficient and intelligent O&M
Provides intelligent network O&M capabilities such as service-centric intelligent troubleshooting, AI-based fault analysis, self-healing, and service performance monitoring. This allows the implementation of automatic, closed-loop, and intelligent O&M throughout the network lifecycle.

 Compatibility with existing networks
Gradually introduces functions, such as E2E service orchestration and intelligent O&M, to smoothly upgrade the existing network, protect existing investment, and reduce network O&M labor, complexity, and costs.

 Unified interfaces
Provides unified northbound interfaces (NBIs) with excellent scalability as well as southbound interfaces (SBIs) that support multiple network protocols and can be gradually opened.

Focusing on BiDi and PAM4 technologies to promote optical module industry development

5G creates huge demands for optical modules, especially modules with higher rates, longer transmission distances, wider temperature ranges, and lower costs. New techniques and technologies are required to reduce optical module costs.

For 5G transport, new 25/50/100 Gbps and Nx100/200/400 Gbps high-speed optical modules will be introduced in the access layer and the backhaul aggregation/core layer, respectively.

5G fronthaul fiber resources are limited, and single-fiber bidirectional (BiDi) optical modules are urgently needed. The IEEE has started developing IEEE 802.3cp as a 25/50 Gbps BiDi standard, and the CCSA in China has started developing a 25 Gbps BiDi standard. If the transmission distance is less than 80 km for midhaul and backhaul, various types of optical modules can be used, for example, 25 Gbps non-return to zero (NRZ) and 50/100/200/400 bit/s PAM4 modules. If the transmission distance is over 80 km, coherent optical modules will be mainly used. PAM4 electrical chips with high linearity have already been launched, and 25/50 GBaud lasers and detector chips with high linearity are still being developed.

Preparing transport networks for 5G

Transport networks, which provide basic pipes, must be 5G-ready before wireless networks. By the end of 2019, transport networks will undergo a key period of 5G-oriented construction. Operators need to reserve infrastructure resources, such as optical fibers, optical cables, equipment room space, and electrical power, for transport networks. They must also analyze whether their existing networks meet 5G service requirements, determine feasible solutions, and carry out pilot construction based on their own network characteristics.

Currently, multiple operators in China have completed infrastructure resource checks and have started reserving resources such as optical fibers, optical cables, and electrical power. The pilot construction of 5G transport networks is underway in many Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Hangzhou, and the requisite technologies and solutions are being developed. In China, large-scale 5G pilot construction will likely begin in 2019 to meet 5G commercialization requirements in 2020.

Many countries and operators have started 5G trials and launched strategic plans to develop the 5G industry and seize a strategic command point. China has made a string of achievements in 5G technology R&D, testing, and industrialization. By increasing support for 5G transport R&D and innovation in the future, China hopes to continue making breakthroughs in key fields such as core chips and SDN-aided intelligent management and control. China will also promote the development of 5G standards, carry out 5G tests, and construct network infrastructure to accelerate the industrialization of 5G transport devices, chips, and test instruments. This will boost the coordinated development of 5G and 4G, laying a solid foundation for 5G commercialization as part of an innovative ecosystem.

Fast Tracking Telcos to Digital Transformation

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Telcos are missing the AI trick

We’ve spoken about this before, but our bugbear has been renewed at The Great Telco Debate; telcos have too narrow a view on artificial intelligence (AI).

AI is the buzzword of 2018, and perhaps this is one which is justified. In years gone we’ve seen the likes of digital transformation and virtualization become so over used they becomes tedious to discuss, but the scale, breadth and depth of AI mean each time it is mentioned it is almost an entirely new conversation.

That is, until you talk to a telco about it.

For many telcos, AI seems to directly translate into another phrase; network optimisation. Now there is nothing wrong with trying to create a lean, mean, analytical machine, all the best companies do it, but with such a narrow focus on a single area of the AI bonanza, you have to question what the long-term consequence will be.

A couple of weeks back we had the chance to attend the Telco Data Analytics and AI conference in London where Tractia Research Director Aditya Kaul suggested roughly 60% of all AI R&D investments at the telcos was heading towards network optimisation. This is a significant proportion, and you have to wonder whether tricks are being missed.

That is certainly the case for Google’s Mike Blanche. Network optimisation is clearly an obvious contender for AI research funds, as the network swallows up such a considerable amount of CAPEX and OPEX, but there is low hanging fruit which can have a more immediate (and positive) impact on the business. Skipping over this fruit will necessarily not have a detrimental impact on the business, but why miss out on easy wins which can add value?

Charlie Muirhead of CognitionX also echoed this point, stating there is so much more to AI than just network optimization, while Marisa Viveros of IBM reeled off the work which her team is engaged in. The point is, there is more to AI than network optimisation, but not much if you generally speak to telcos.

Going back to the Telco Data Analytics and AI conference, at the time we asked BT’s Pratik Bose, who was appearing on a panel session, whether he thought the intensive focus on network optimisation is a dangerous game to play. His response was simple; sort out the network and that leaves a lot of free time and cash to explore more interesting AI applications. This is a perfectly reasonable idea, but you have to wonder when that time comes will the telcos be playing catch-up to others who have been more adventurous with their AI research.

Chris Lewis of Lewis Insight made a couple of fair points at The Great Telco Debate. Firstly, concentrating all the AI efforts on one aspect of the value chain will mean new opportunities and applications will be missed. The telcos are searching for diversification and additional revenues streams, and considering the role connectivity is going to play in every aspect of our lives from here forward, the telcos could be a useful partner to various members of the ecosystem. But not if research is being laser focused on a single segment.

But why is this? Telcos are of course less adventurous than the webscale players, though this is partly due to the business model and pressure from investors who have bought into a certain type of business model, but another point (made again by Lewis) is from a leadership perspective. A lot of the CEOs throughout the telco world are business managers. Compare this to the Silicon Valley fliers who have technologists in-charge, and you start to see why AI is playing the role it currently is. If you have an accountant in charge of the business, that person is naturally going to be more risk adverse, leaning towards technologies which create operational efficiencies.

Bouke Hoving, EVP of Networks & IT at KPN, pointed towards the digital transformation journey his business went through recently, and part of the reason it was such a success is the digital-first, engaging and adventurous mission was led by the CEO. The culture of a business is led from the boardroom, and the strategy reflects the nature of its CEO. Perhaps this is why BT went down the audaciously flashy and risky route of sport content and Kevin Bacon (Gavin Patterson was a marketer), and why T-Mobile US has such a colourful approach to telecommunications (John Legere is John Legere).

Of course, it is worth restating there is nothing wrong with making a business more efficient. However, in this case it is a dangerous road to take. Such initiatives will only make a business more profitable, improving what is already there. This should be an objective for the telcos, though a bigger concern should be securing new revenues. The telco industry is massive, but it is not growing. For all the money which is being spent on improving and enhancing connectivity, others in the ecosystem are claiming the vast majority of the newly created value. This is not something which the telcos can allow to continue.

Three completes 5G outdoor trials in Hong Kong

3HK, the third largest mobile operator in Hong Kong have completed 5G trials on both the 3.5 GHz and 26 GHz bands.

The trials have been going on since the operator obtained temporary permits from the government of China’s “special administrative region”, for indoor and outdoor tests on the two frequencies in May and June respectively. The trial on the 26 GHz band used 400 MHz frequency resources and achieved a downlink peak speed of 3.2 Gbps, while the 3.5 GHz trial used 100 MHz resources, hitting speeds of 2 Gbps. The latter trial was on Massive MIMO technology, which enabled 3HK to claim to be the first to conduct live outdoor broadcast via a 5G network in the 3.5GHz band, although the operator hastened to add a footnote that the “first” claim was made “based on publicly-available information”.

“Three Hong Kong took the initiative to carry out end-to-end trials in various 5G bands in preparation for a new era of mobile communications,” said Kenny Koo, CEO of Hutchison Telecommunications Hong Kong, of which 3HK is a subsidiary. “We welcome the government’s decision to allow various of its premises to accommodate 5G base stations, and we hope the application and approval processes can be simplified and accelerated to help Hong Kong’s 5G development.”

3HK explained the rationale behind trialling out on both 3.5 GHz and 26 GHz. It believed that long-term development of 5G technology requires different spectrum bands to complement one another. The mmWave band (for example the 26GHz and 28GHz bands) delivers high-speed service but the cells’ coverage is limited. To achieve greater coverage the mmWave band needs to be complemented by the 3.5 GHz band. Such an arrangement enables operators to extend coverage and provide a seamless 5G experience and to meet all the various demands on 5G applications.

While China may not be the first country to go live with 5G – its mobile operators are more likely to by-pass the non-standalone mode and go full blown to standalone mode – Hong Kong is often among the leading markets to adopt the latest technologies, as was the case in 3G and 4G. Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, and the site of 3HK’s massive MIMO trial, Causeway Bay, is right in the centre of the commercial and business district.

The diversification dilemma; making money and meeting expectations, can it be done?

Diversification is an accepted truth in the telco industry nowadays, but are the telcos resourceful and adaptable enough to chase after new revenues while also achieving their connectivity responsibilities?

This was one of the questions facing the panel during the opening session of The Great Telco Debate 2018; should the telcos confine themselves to connectivity or should the aim be to chase new revenues? Of course, the answer to this question is relatively simple, diversifying to build alternative revenues streams is an absolute must, but how this is done and whether the telcos have the capabilities to do so is a bit more of a murky area.

First of all, lets address the overarching question, which has to a degree become redundant nowadays. With customers expecting more in terms of speed and capacity, but not necessarily willing to pay for the upgrades, diversification is a necessity. The equation is not balanced anymore and the connectivity business model is failing. Analyst Chris Lewis pointed out that while the telco industry is worth in excess of $1.6 trillion, it isn’t actually growing.

Those who confine themselves to connectivity revenues will only find their own expenses going north, while ARPU remains relatively stable, or increasing ever so slightly. In the developed markets, subscription growth has more or less hit a glass ceiling, therefore telcos are spending billions on swapping customers between themselves. This is an industry which is heading towards bankruptcy unless new ideas are sought, and, more importantly, put into practise.

However, there is a problem with diversification; the telcos are not doing the basics properly. When you look at broadband and mobile coverage, or average download speeds, the telcos fundamental mission has not been completed. Coupled with a disastrous relationship with the customer, NPS for telcos is lower than with airlines, you have to question whether the telcos have the right foundations to do anything aside from their basic purpose.

The foundations of this journey to profitability and growth are certainly shaky, but the issue is there is no time to fix them, ultimately the telcos are under threat. For all the billions which have been spent on 4G, you could argue the rewards for the telcos have been minimal. 5G will be more expensive, so you have to question whether the telcos could survive another G which went down this avenue.

Diversification was the resounding message to come out of this morning’s debate, but what is critical is doing it in the right way. Veon, Google, Softbank and many participants from the audience pointed towards joint ventures and partnerships, with stories such as BT’s venture into TV as a lesson of the disaster which can occur when you go it alone. But where do you start? Carrier billing is an obvious choice.

As Google’s Mike Blanche pointed out, more of the world is becoming digital meaning more transactions will have to happen in the virtual world. Unfortunately the virtual world is full of horror stories concerning theft and fraud, while consumers are constantly warned about safe-guarding credit card details online. The telcos established billing relationship with the customer is a simple exercise to add value, drive additional revenue and lean on already existing processes.

Having Google present at this event was an interesting twist as well, as it puts a face onto the big, bad OTTs. For years, these companies have been portrayed as the enemy, but the telco of tomorrow should really be leaning on the success of these guys. Why, for instance, would you want to compete with the billions being spent by Netflix on content and marketing, when you can just partner with it? In most cases, the OTTs are virtual companies with limited presence in the physical world, the telcos high-street retail presence and field-engineering workforce can aid the OTTs. The idea of wholesaling business processes and assets takes the telcos into a new world.

This is one of the important takeaways from this morning’s session, diversification is critical but, as the former CEO of Veon Jean Yves Charlier put it, you have to diversify as close to the network as possible. Exploring the exciting new opportunities might sound like a wonderful idea, but you have to question whether the telcos are competent enough to move too far away from the network. Without sounding rude, we suspect there aren’t many.

So this is the diversification dilemma. Telcos need to diversify, but they aren’t good enough at the core business to justify the new journey. Unfortunately, there isn’t an alternative.

Qualcomm pumps $100mn into AI start-up fund

US mobile chip giant Qualcomm has created a $100 million investment fund to support artificial intelligence (AI) startups in an effort to put mass-market devices, rather than the cloud, at the heart of AI activity.

The Qualcomm Ventures AI Fund will “focus on startups that share the vision of on-device AI becoming more powerful and widespread, with an emphasis on those developing new technology for autonomous cars, robotics and machine learning platforms,” the company announced.

“As a pioneer of on-device AI, we strongly believe intelligence is moving from the cloud to the edge,” said Steve Mollenkopf, the CEO of Qualcomm, in a company statement about the new investment fund, which was unveiled at Qualcomm Ventures’ 5G & AI Summit in San Francisco. “Qualcomm’s AI strategy couples leading 5G connectivity with our R&D, fuelling AI to transform industries, business models and experiences.”

Qualcomm has already picked one lucky recipient of its largesse: Qualcomm Ventures has participated in a Series A funding round for AnyVision, a “face, body, and object recognition start-up”, though there are no details about how many greenbacks the chip giant deposited in AnyVision’s bank account. That $28 million funding round was announced in July this year: It was led by German multinational Bosch, but no other investors were named at the time.

Qualcomm, of course, isn’t the only industry giant backing the AI trend in the communications device world: Chinese behemoth Huawei Technologies has been banging the AI drum for quite some time.

For more on this story, check out the full details at our sister site, Light Reading.

China will dominate the US in gigabit broadband race

New research has found the US will be dominated by China in the gigabit broadband race, even falling slightly behind Europe.

A report from Rethink Technology predicts 57 percent of gigabit connections by 2023 will be in China, or 68 percent when accounting for Asia as a whole.

Europe will take second place with 18 percent. North America will take an 11 percent share, while Latin America will fall behind with just three percent.

gigabit-broadband-availability

Over 42% of Chinese homes will have access to 1Gbps services thanks to “a series of massive build-outs led by China Mobile”. That’s an impressive number considering China’s ~1.4 billion population which pales in comparison to North America’s ~364 million.

Most of the world is expected to use fibre technology, while the US is expected to predominantly use DOCSIS 3.1.

“Laggards in percentage terms will include the United Kingdom and Germany and much of Latin America,” said Rethink.

Countries like the US suffer from a small number of large private broadband companies which avoid competing with each other in order to form localised monopolies. China’s state-owned telecoms businesses – China Telecom, China Unicom, and China Mobile – are focused on delivering gigabit broadband to as many as possible, as fast as possible.

The current major barrier to gigabit uptake is cost. Rethink believes in around two years “1Gbps broadband will become commonplace and inexpensive" and notes the percentage of users convinced to upgrade will move from five percent a year, to around eight percent in later years.

Finally, the report believes technologies which deliver increased speeds over existing infrastructure – such as G.fast – will quickly become obsolete as more buildings opt for full fibre connections.

Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this? Attend the co-located IoT Tech Expo, Blockchain Expo, AI & Big Data Expo and Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London, and Amsterdam.

ETSI publishes new spec and reports on 5G tech

The European Telecommunications Standards Institute, ETSI, has released new specifications on packet formatting and forwarding, as well as two reports on transport and network slicing respectively.

The new specification, called Flexilink, focusing on packet formats and forwarding mechanisms to allow core and access networks to support the new services proposed for 5G. The objective of the new specification is to achieve efficient deterministic packet forwarding in user plane for next generation protocols (NGP). In the conventional IP networks, built on the Internet Protocols defined in the 1980s, every packet carries all the information needed to route it to its destination. This is undergoing fundamental changes with new technologies like Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Control and User Plane Separation (CUPS), where most packets are part of a “flow” such as a TCP session or a video stream. As a result, there is increasingly a separation between the processes of deciding the route packets will follow and of forwarding the packets.

“Current IP protocols for core and access networks need to evolve and offer a much better service to mobile traffic than the current TCP/IP-based technology,” said John Grant, chairman of the ETSI Next Generation Protocol Industry Specification Group (ISG). “Our specifications offer solutions that are compatible with both IPv4 and IPv6, providing an upgrade path to the more efficient and responsive system that is needed to support 5G.”

The new specification defines two separate services, a “basic” service suitable for traditional statistically multiplexed packet data, and a “guaranteed” service providing the lowest possible latency for continuous media, such as audio, video, tactile internet, or vehicle position. It is worth noting that Flexilink only specifies user plane packet formats and routing mechanisms. Specifications for the control plane to manage flows have already been defined in an earlier NGP document “Packet Routing Technologies” published in 2017.

The report “Recommendation for New Transport Technologies” analyses the current transport technologies such as TCP and their limitations, whilst also providing high-level guidance on architectural features required in a transport technology to support the new applications proposed for 5G. The report also includes a framework where there is a clear separation between control and data planes. A proof-of-concept implementation was conducted to experiment the recommended technologies, and to demonstrate that each TCP session can obtain bandwidth guaranteed service or minimum latency guaranteed service. The report states:

“With traditional transport technology, for all TCP traffic passes through DIP router, each TCP session can only obtain a fraction of bandwidth. It is related to the total number of TCP sessions and the egress bandwidth (100 M).

“With new transport technology, new TCP session (DIP flows) could obtain its expected bandwidth or the minimum latency. And most [sic.] important thing is that the new service is not impacted by the state that router is congested, and this can prove that new service by new transport technology is guaranteed.”

Importantly, the PoC experiment showed that the current hardware technology is able to support the proposed new transport technology and provide satisfactory scalability and performance.

The report “E2E Network Slicing Reference Framework and Information Model” looks into the design principles behind network slicing. The topic of network slices encompasses the combination of virtualisation, cloud centric, and SDN technologies. But there is gap in normalized resource information flow over a plurality of provider administration planes (or domains). The report aims to “provide a simple manageable and operable network through a common interface while hiding infrastructure complexities. The present document defines how several of those technologies may be used in coordination to offer description and monitoring of services in a network slice.” It describes the high level functions and mechanisms for implementing network slicing, as well as addresses security considerations.