One of the main differences between fifth-generation (5G) networks and previous ones is their greater focus on the corporate and industry segments. While the communications of previous generations were focused primarily on improving consumer experience and meeting the needs of the mass market, the new standards were developed proactively taking into consideration supporting corporate segment and IIoT objectives as important factors of the fourth industrial revolution. Undoubtedly, increasing data transfer rates and network capacity was the main priority, but at the same time, a number of features focused specifically on corporate use-cases were incorporated into the architecture early on.
First of all, the new standard increased network capacity and flexibility. The 5G standard eliminates the 4G networks' weak points that prevented them from being used effectively with a large number of relatively passive data consuming subscriptions — primarily IoT devices, transmitting limited amounts of data while having high energy efficiency requirements. Such technologies are essential for growing segments, like the Smart City, but more importantly, together with other innovations in the standard, they form a solid platform for digitalization of different industry facilities, enabling wide use of intellectual sensors and control tools for managing manufacturing processes in real time.
Another important aspect is the reduction of network access latency. 5G primarily focuses on radio access, but the proposed trend to locate critical applications as close to the radio part as possible (Mobile Edge) reduces core network or Internet tunnel latency, ensuring the applicability of 5G networks for processes that require operating in real time with ”zero” latency.
The third architectural aspect important for corporate customers is the technology of dividing the radio network into dedicated slices. This technology makes it possible to separate different types of consumers into non-overlapping segments at the network level, provide appropriate access conditions for each slice, and—something that is extremely important in commercial use—ensure service quality management. For example, by separating the traffic of employees' phones and process sensors, it is possible to guarantee the uninterrupted operation of critical control systems or a high response rate of automatic process control systems regardless of peak loads associated with, for example, major sporting events finals or the new season release of a cult series. This approach helps to reduce redundancy, required to build separate physical networks for automation and user networks.
The further step of this separation is the private mobile radio (PMR) use-case developed within the 5G standard framework, that not only allows for moving designated users to a dedicated segment of the radio network, but also allows complete isolation of corporate traffic from public networks with landing it directly to corporate networks, bypassing the telecom operator’s core. At the extreme, subject to local regulations, in this scenario the enterprise can become direct owner of such a network, without mandatory licensing, and ensure replacement of current unlicensed (or partially licensed) standards, such as Wi-Fi for data and TETRA for voice, with the unified technological base of 5G networks, decreasing dependency on specialized but limited end-user devices. This is one of the most promising scenarios, especially for large-scale industries, since it reduces dependence on public networks, their coverage, and the need to support different types of infrastructure for various conditions. In addition, the increased network throughput will facilitate the use of 5G networks for such critical and sensitive applications as video surveillance or transmission of high-volume data (for example, in healthcare or complex industrial processes) while reduced latency in combination with Mobile Edge architecture will enable completely owned process cycles within the enterprise, providing the required level of reliability, availability, and security.
All of the above changes have a significant influence on management and business support systems by creating new service models as well as their management and monetization approach. As a manufacturer of BSS systems, Nexign is actively developing support for emerging models in its solutions and cooperates with its key customers on details of their implementation.
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