5G: essential for the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Staff writer
10 Oct 2017

5G Insights: You speak of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). How will 5G enable this new paradigm?

Vinai Sirkay: The 4IR is a revolution that will change the way we live, work and relate to each other through a range of technologies, including the Internet of Things (IoT), autonomous driving, artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, quantum computing, wearables, bio and nano-technology. 5G is an integral technology that will be necessary for these things to fulfil their potential within the 4IR, as well as other industry verticals such as healthcare, energy management and transportation. The 4IR needs 5G technology to enable the digital and global economy, and will have a profound impact at a societal level.

5G is all about the fast downloading of high definition video to your smartphone, right?

VS: 5G does provide an enhanced mobile broadband experience but it is actually so much more than that! It will enable the delivery and management of interactive, intelligent, energy efficient, and smart applications to any connected device in any industry sector, in near-real time. 5G is a multi-access technology that supports both wireless and fixed network access either individually or in combination to provide superior performance and an improved user experience. It will deliver a range of use-cases for multiple industry sectors, is seen as a societal game changer, and an integral part of the 4th Industrial Revolution.

5G has the potential to support a completely connected world across industry verticals. We are talking about supporting up to 1 million devices per square kilometer and speeds 10,000 times greater capacity than the cellular networks of 2010. Peak speeds of 10Gbps will be available and its 1 millisecond latency and five-nines reliability means that critical systems will be available for autonomous driving for mass transit, connected healthcare for developed and emerging markets, and wireless industrial automation.

Everyone is talking about ‘cloud-native’. Why is this so important?

VS: Cloud-native is about network software that’s been designed specifically for the cloud, from the ground up. A cloud-native network is essential to meet the service characteristics and network requirements of 5G and the new next-gen core standards have adopted cloud design principles. Some network vendors have only virtualized their core networks to run on servers but have not redesigned them to be cloud-native, meaning they do not take full advantage of what the cloud has to offer. Nokia’s Cloud Packet Core cloud-native architecture has the capability to deliver the performance to support increasing capacity, massive scalability, deployment flexibility and service characteristics such as low latency. This enables organizations to realize the economics of efficiently and reliably delivering diverse and demanding consumer, residential, enterprise and IoT/MTC services and applications.

So why won’t existing core networks be up to the job in supporting 5G and all of these new services?

VS: In reality, the evolution of the core network to a cloud-native architecture is a journey that builds upon the incremental advancements required today to support the requirements of 4G/LTE. To deliver today’s LTE and LTE-Advanced services, many organizations are migrating their networks to network functions virtualization (NFV) and a virtualized evolved packet core (vEPC) to increase scalability and improve network efficiency and resiliency.

This is the first step towards a 5G next-generation core, but more is needed. To realize the very different economics of delivering diverse services and applications, organizations need to fully embrace what the cloud has to offer, transforming their core networks into fully ‘cloud-native’ architectures that deliver massive scalability and deployment flexibility.

Read more about Nokia’s cloud native architecture: The foundation for 5G NGC

This article first appeared in Telecom Asia 5G Insights October 2017 Edition

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