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High-tech and affordable 5G network roll-out to every corner

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - Affordable5G (High-tech and affordable 5G network roll-out to every corner)

Reporting period: 2021-09-01 to 2022-11-30

Affordable5G is a European project co-funded by the Horizon 2020 Programme of the European Commission.

The main objective that was reached during the Affordable5G project was the design and implementation of a cost-effective end-to-end 5G network, tailored for private companies and assist the emergence of new business models. To this end, Affordable5G consortium designed the appropriate system architecture, scrutinizing the relevant hardware components and selecting open-source technical solutions when applicable, while also enhancing infrastructure sharing techniques based on network slicing and neutral host concepts. The developed end-to-end Affordable5G system was deployed in two testbeds and validated through three pilots with stringent technical and functional requirements, identifying the challenges and difficulties of a disaggregated heterogeneous system.

The project was architected to be evaluated and validated in two vertical pilots , the Mission Critical Service (MCS) and the Computer Vision Analytics for Emergencies (CVAE) services.
Technological/Scientific Achievements
• The Project delivered an end-to-end network architecture for the deployment of non-public networks based on disaggregated multi-vendor 5G RAN components with open interfaces, a full-fledged 5G Standalone core and an efficient 5G transport network.
• Affordable5G showcased practical cost-efficient deployments of private 5G networks that are able to support a variety of pilots. Detailed description of the necessary infrastructure is provided, based on the integration of different 5G components that have been developed during the project, shaping the final network.
• Affordable5G project presented a concrete implementation of the two different instantiations of the Affordable5G network in the testbeds of Castellolí and Malaga, focusing on the measurement of the relevant KPIs (throughput, latency, etc.) to quantify the performance of the deployed 5G network.
• During the first year of the project, 6 demos were designed and demonstrated in the first review, showcasing the interconnection of O-RAN components, the implementation of AI/ML algorithms for control of the network resources and ad-hoc deployment of network slices, the application of time sensitive networks, as well as the
orchestration of network resources through efficient OSM deployment and the hardware acceleration for video processing.
• The present project included the demonstration of three pilots, namely a Mission Critical Service (MCS) deployed in Castellolí, a Smart city pilot and a Time Sensitive Network (balancing table use case) deployed in Malaga, showcasing the ability of Affordable 5G ecosystem to host diverse services and network requirements in
heterogeneous environments.
• The critical processes of integration and validation of the three pilots in the two testbeds illustrated the efforts, developments and encountered challenges to converge in a full functional system level solution consisting of disaggregated multi-vendor 5G RAN components. The reporting of the validation activities and the comparison to
alternative RAN solutions can be used as a guideline towards partial system integration, forming a baseline for upcoming deployments of private 5G networks.

Dissemination/Communication Achievements
• Project partners have participated in 30 relevant external events. Moreover, the project was featured in 29 news articles on a specialized sector publication and the developed technical networking solutions were presented in co-organized 4 events in close collaboration with related H2020 projects within the overall 5G PPP context.
• The project was presented in events that reached overall around 400,000 participants and has widely promoted its results and activities to more than 9,000 stakeholders. Moreover, almost 4,000 unique users visited Affordable5G website.
• The Affordable5G project significantly contributed to the relevant standardization bodies regarding key technological outcomes of the project, aligning with the originally designed exploitation plans. The project has performed several contributions to ETSI, O-RAN and NGMN communities.
• Technical results and research directions of the Affordable5G project were published on international scientific journals and conference proceedings . The research outcomes were also disseminated via presentations at several scientific conferences
and workshops.
Many vertical industries such as Manufacturing, Energy or even Smart cities are looking forward to 5G private networks / Non-Public Networks (NPNs) to get high-level service flexibility, high-quality and responsive communications and spread of deployment possibilities with a cost reduction in a specialized IoT market, especially if such 5G networks were affordable and easy-to-manage. Although the utilization of private cellular networks for industry scenarios is not new, the advent of 5G networks provides plenty of new business opportunities for multiple actors (industries, ISVs, operators, MVNOs, etc). 5G NPNs are expected to deliver high-speed and low-latency while support next-generation applications. In practice, ensuring continuity and adaptability of service in critical networks means building secure networks with high availability and reliability together with the supporting cloud-native deployment capabilities.

Affordable5G system requirements were elicited envisaging private network deployment scenarios and on three use cases regarding mission critical services, computer vision analytics for emergencies and manufacturing applications. Further elaboration on the system requirements and the architecture design, the thematic areas on which Affordable5G is introducing novelties are:

• O-RAN - The system will support disaggregated RAN with open interfaces following the O-RAN initiative allowing flexible and cost-efficient 5G deployments in private and enterprise networks.
• 5GCore - To investigate the full potential of 5G for NPNs, the Affordable5G system architecture includes a full-fledged 5G SA core based on an extremely flexible software architecture, on top of which the 3GPP NFs are implemented. The core is capable of interworking with the project’s O-RAN-based radio access infrastructure.
• Data analytics and AI/ML-based network optimization - the system architecture incorporates components supporting both network and management data analytics services standardized by the 3GPP, as well as components for AI/ML-based O-RAN optimization.
• Slicing - The slicing solution specified in Affordable5G can provision end-to-end slices in the compute, network, and access network domains and perform slice resource partitioning at the infrastructure, network slice, and vertical service levels.
• Resource MANO – The resource management and orchestration solution specified for the Affordable5G system provides an end-to-end orchestration capabilities in 5G infrastructures, composed of heterogeneous components (virtual network functions, MEC resources and specific hardware devices) with various underlying virtualized
infrastructure management technologies.

Affordable5G will impact society not only by providing support to the emergence of an European offer around disaggregated 5G technologies but also supporting several (9) SMEs in the consortium to consolidate their product competitive advantages and facilitate their commercialization paths.