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Private 5G Networks for Connected Industries

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - 5G CONNI (Private 5G Networks for Connected Industries)

Reporting period: 2019-10-01 to 2020-09-30

A key promise associated with the fifth generation of mobile communication networks (5G) is the expansion of its scope beyond individual human end users towards an integrated communication system, which also provides wireless connectivity to new vertical applications driven by industries such as manufacturing, automotive, health or agriculture. Sparked by this promise, the last years have seen a surge in research and development activities targeting 5G technologies around the globe. With 3GPP Release 15 finished in mid-2018, the first commercial deployments of 5G networks are being rolled out at the moment.

Meanwhile, the ongoing proliferation of information and communication technologies (ICT) into industrial production is regarded today as a new stage in the industrial revolution, commonly termed as “Industry 4.0”. Future Smart Factories envisioned in that context will leverage Industry 4.0 technology to increase flexibility and efficiency of the manufacturing processes. This will enable more demand-oriented manufacturing with reduced lot sizes and more product variants while simultaneously improving quality control and cost efficiency. Wireless communication technology and especially 5G is widely regarded as a key enabler for Industry 4.0.

The use cases for wireless communications introduced by Industry 4.0 applications pose new technology requirements for individual KPIs such as latency, packet delivery jitter, reliability or achievable throughput but also regarding the systems dependability, i.e. the ability to make guarantees for deterministic behaviour. These requirements are typically quite distinct from those that have traditionally guided the design and deployment of public land mobile networks, especially for mobile broadband use cases. While 5G technologies such as network slicing may accommodate industrial applications in public networks, the generational leap offers the opportunity to not only re-architect the network, but also operator and deployment models. Private 5G Networks, operating locally and highly optimized towards specific applications, are envisioned by the 5G CONNI partners to be an important component in helping both 5G and Industry 4.0 deliver on their promises.

The 5G CONNI project brings together major players in ICT and Industry 4.0 from Europe and Taiwan with the joint vision of paving the way for industrial 5G applications and accelerating deployments. Academic and applied research is complemented by leading industry partners in both do-mains for a strong end-to-end system coverage.

The overall objective of the 5G CONNI project is to demonstrate 5G radio, network and cloud technologies as enablers for future Smart Factories by integrating private local 5G networks into a multi-site end-to-end industrial communication testbed. It will explore new operator models, planning and deployment strategies for private 5G networks to provide input to industry fora and the ongoing national and international regulation efforts.

In pursuit of these objectives, 5G CONNI will
- Realize at least two selected industrial 5G use cases at interconnected real-world trial sites in Europe and Taiwan
- Conduct measurements and develop tools for application specific coverage prediction and network planning with focus on indoor industrial environments
- Investigate key enabling technologies for industrial applications with focus on mobile edge computing and URLLC communication
- Provide input to regulatory bodies to facilitate realization of the developed operator models
- Develop methodologies for and conduct end-to-end 5G system verification with focus on interoperability and use case specific KPIs (e.g. latency, reliability)
- Foster the collaboration of European and Taiwanese key players from both communications and production industries allowing them to leverage synergies and thus realize an increased impact on internationally harmonized regulation and standardization, creating better commercialization opportunities
During the first year of the project, much of the work was focused on the conceptual foundations for the realization of industrial private 5G networks. The main results from these efforts include:
- An in-depth review of related activities and documents of 3GPP,
- The identification and analysis of innovative use cases, their description and documentation, and an elaborate analysis of a subset of them with their associated requirements on 5G in an industrial setting,
- Selection of suitable use cases for proof-of-concept demonstrations,
- The identification, analysis and documentation of use case-unspecific functional requirements that are relevant in the context of private 5G network operation models for industries,
- Definition and discussion of suitable architectures and associated operator models in a common ownership and governance framework, and
- Analysis of 5G system integration into enterprise processes by means of user stories.

Furthermore, activities working towards the development of network planning tools and technical enablers for industrial 5G resulted in:
- The development of a new spacially resolved channel sounding system for the frequency ranges of interest,
- The development of a novel algorithm for building connectivity maps,
- Detailed radio planning and simulation for the Taiwanese demonstration site,
- Development of the 5G RAN Core and mobile edge computing technology components to be used in the demonstrations,
- Investigation of mechanisms for URLLC communication.
5G CONNI will make important contributions for a better understanding of these peculiarities and for enabling the use of private 5G factory networks in the future. That being said, the project seeks to advance the state of the art in four areas:
1) Architecture and Operator Models for Private 5G Networks: Development of suitable deployment strategies and operator models, which may support different levels of autonomy for the factory owner with different levels of cooperation with established mobile network operators
2) Design, Planning and Operation of Private 5G Networks: Extensive channel measurements and novel algorithms for radio and resource planning
3) Enabling Technologies for Industrial Applications: Development of RAN, Core, Mobile Edge Computing and application components to support industrial private 5G networks
4) End-to-End Integration of 5G and Industrial Technologies: Suitable architectures for private 5G factory networks, including their integration into the existing infrastructure

To the best of our knowledge, 5G CONNI will be the first major EU project having such a strong focus on private 5G networks and thus trigger both, a lot of innovation and competition. Innovation may be triggered as completely new ecosystems may emerge around private 5G networks, which may enable start-ups and other players to offer tailored products and services, for example for planning, maintaining, monitoring, or even operating such networks. Competition, on the other hand, may be in-creased as established players from the ICT industry (e.g. traditional mobile network operators) may face new competitors and thus are forced to adjust their business models as well. First steps in this direction can already be seen today, as major operators start offering dedicated campus network solutions as well. This increased competition will eventually trigger additional innovation and may be beneficial for the whole society at the end.
5G CONNI Testbed Overview