5G Around The Corner

In 2017, the first set of 5G specifications for standalone operations, also known as R15 (Release 15), was matured and approved by 3GPP Technical Specifications Group, who also announced the launch of “Phase 2” of 5G specifications, called R16 (Release 16), which goes beyond standalone operations. These moves are seen as the major work plans towards the pre-scheduled timeline by 2020.

Upon the completion of beyond-standalone specifications, the commercialization of 5G will soon be realized and offer the following network features:

1. enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB)

Considered as the initial project for 5G specifications, this deployment aims to expand the bandwidth based on existing 4G infrastructures to accommodate the future growth in data contributed by VR/AR and streaming applications.

2. massive Machine-Type Communications (mMTC)

mMTC aims to enhance the existing machine-type communications among intelligent embedded devices across industries.

3. Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communications (URLLC)

URLLC will target at end-to-end applications where latency shall be constantly minimized and reliability shall remain.

Sports Game As Stage for 5G

In recent years, major sports events have been used as the showcasing stage for 5G technology, for instance, Winter Olympics in Korea, Super Bowl, and lately the World Cup 2018 in Russia.

Indeed, large-scale 5G deployments have dramatically transformed the viewing experience of sports games. Today, audience are no longer passive viewers, instead, they are actively involved by using their smart mobile devices to upload, comment and share the games what they are watching. With 5G networks, games are streamed and delivered in an unprecedented speed and in 4K viewing quality to audiences who can now enjoy the games with VR glasses, and watch game as if they were in the VIP seats.

The successful roll-out of large-scale 5G networks will also revolutionize how broadcasting companies deliver their contents to their viewers. The broadcasting quality can be further enhanced and it will be a new opportunity to innovate subscription services.

MEC and CDN as Current 5G Deployments

The 5G specifications are defined to meet the requirements of ultra-low latency, full-reliability, instant responses, enhanced data bandwidth and end-to-end architecture. In recent roll-out cases, the infrastructures were largely based on MEC (Multi-Access Edge Computing).

In MEC architecture, multiple intelligent gateways are deployed as the local data center at the edge of the network, working closely with base stations and radio networks, also known as the RAN. A well-structured MEC will boost CDN (Content Delivery Network) efficiency for wireless communications by more than 30%.

MEC is also a cost-efficient architecture where white-box servers are used to function as the edge data center, rather than a proprietary server. In addition, 5G deployment largely leverages the existing 4G infrastructure, and thus saves the cost for investing physical facilities.

Recommended Hardware

White-box, commodity hardware with powerful computing performance, video transcoding and high throughput for virtualizations will serve as the optimal edge data centers in MEC architecture. For example, NCA-6210 and HTCA-6400 by Lanner Electronics are the good fits for MEC with their high-performance computing capability by powerful Intel® Xeon® processor family, open architecture and open architecture. Once installed with a high-performance video transcoding card, namely NCS-VT02A, these systems will be optimized for CDN applications in sports games and concerts.