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5G-Xcast Report Summary

Project ID: 761498
Funded under: H2020-EU.2.1.1.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - 5G-Xcast (Broadcast and Multicast Communication Enablers for the Fifth-Generation of Wireless Systems)

Reporting period: 2017-06-01 to 2018-06-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

5G-Xcast is designing point-to-multipoint (PTM) capabilities for 5G New Radio (NR) and the Core Network as built-in delivery features integrated into the overall 5G system architecture, providing a unified PTM framework for relevant verticals and applications, including automotive, Internet of Things (IoT), media and entertainment (M&E), and public warning (PW). In addition, the 5G-Xcast vision also encompasses the opportunity for the convergence of fixed, mobile and broadcast networks in 5G.

The 5G-Xcast project objectives are to:
• Develop PTM capabilities considering vertical use cases for M&E, automotive, IoT and PW.
• Design a dynamically adaptable network architecture with layer independent network interfaces to dynamically and seamlessly switch between unicast, multicast and broadcast modes, or use them in parallel.
• Experimentally demonstrate key innovations for the M&E and PW verticals.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

WP2 has defined the use cases, requirements and KPIs that the project is using as a basis for technical developments in the technical WPs and for evaluation of its results.

WP3 has first completed radio access network (RAN) benchmarking of LTE eMBMS in 3GPP Rel-14 and ATSC 3.0 as state-of-the-art, identifying potential limitations and areas of improvements. The design of the 5G-Xcast RAN over 5G NR Rel-15 is on-going. Two different PTM NR air interface designs are considered - Mixed Mode for dynamic and seamless switching between PTP and PTM transmission, and Terrestrial Broadcast Mode to enable the reception in devices without uplink capabilities (downlink only mode). WP3 is also contributing to the 5G-PPP IMT-2020 Evaluation Working Group.

WP4 has analysed the limitations of PTM in LTE (Rel-14 eMBMS) and designed building blocks for the service-based 5G architecture defined by 3GPP in Rel-15. Different architecture options have been defined - including an option with minimal changes to the LTE eMBMS, and one that leverages the 5G core architecture (transparent multicast transport). Regarding convergence of fixed and mobile networks, WP4 has described the key drivers, benefits and use cases for full network convergence. WP4 has further developed relevant initial call flows to achieve the multicast and broadcast services within the network. Work on the detailed call flows and procedures are currently ongoing.

WP5 has developed the content delivery framework to clarify how the network capabilities being developed can be best exploited. The framework allows an underlying PTM network capability to be used to achieve scalability within an otherwise unicast delivery path, simplifying the interface between the content provider and the network operator. PTM is treated as an optimisation choice internal to a network and should not require modification of CDNs or end device applications. WP5 deliverable entitled “Content Delivery Vision” is being adopted by other technical work packages as they work on their technical designs and standards contributions.
The project partners were able to successfully highlight the importance of the topic in 3GPP, to the wider academic and industrial research community. In 3GPP there is consensus that a PTM framework for all verticals is required in 5G (known as mixed mode), except for terrestrial broadcast. The collaboration between partners, advisory board and external companies led to the approval of a study item titled “Study on LTE-based 5G Terrestrial Broadcast”, where the key requirements for 5G terrestrial broadcast would be evaluated and gaps related to LTE identified. The work done in the project, related to WP3 deliverable “Performance of LTE Advanced Pro (Rel’14) eMBMS” would be a useful baseline in this context.

WP6 has produced an initial plan for trials on test-beds, demonstrators and showcase. Trials are planned for three use cases based on LTE broadcast: M&E hybrid broadcast service (at IRT), M&E object-based broadcasting (at 5GIC) and PW multimedia messages (at TUAS). The trials are to be conducted in the three test-beds: Munich (Germany), Surrey (UK) and Turku (Finland). The test-beds are being updated to integrate the necessary components for the trials and some initial trials have been conducted in the first half of the project.

A showcase in the context of European Championships (EC) 2018 in Berlin and Glasgow in August 2018 will explore the possibilities of delivering audio-visual broadcast and on-demand content to various types of devices as a demonstration of how broadcasters and users may benefit of new delivery technologies in 5G networks. A demo on spectrum sharing was presented at EuCNC 2018, and a new demo for IBC 2018 is under development to showcase unicast and multicast ABR service delivery. The demonstrator from EC showcase will also be presented at IBC 2018.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

WP2 will continue to monitor the progress of the technical work packages against the original use cases and their related requirements and KPIs, results of which would be published in D2.2. WP2 will also look at future use cases enabled by the technical developments from the project in D2.3.

In WP3, based on the performance benchmarking, the development of 5G-Xcast RAN solution is ongoing, extending the 5G NR RAN from PTP to PTM. This includes tasks that were not originally specified in the proposal, e.g., to provide millimetre wave solutions and to participate the IMT-2020 Evaluation WG until the end of the project.

WP4 has targeted a solution for transparent multicast transport which was not in the proposal. In this solution, the network is considered as a transport pipe supporting multicast data where multicast related functions are located outside of network operator’s domain as opposed to the eMBMS approach in LTE.

WP5’s approach to treat PTM as an internal optimisation capability, rather than a service, is the key aspect that moves beyond the state of the art. It also lowers the barriers to adoption of PTM technology and allow highly efficient delivery of simultaneously consumed content. This contrasts sharply with the current approaches, which require the content provider to invest in integrating and managing their service with each network operator.

Performance and Societal Impacts
PTM capabilities enable the 5G KPI of 1000 times higher capacity with higher user-densities, through the efficient utilization of spectral resources. The use of PTM for 5G developed in this project is an essential enabler for massive connectivity – to 7 trillion devices and 7 billion people, since unicast has limited network access capability. The incorporation of PTM capabilities as built-in delivery features in 5G, and the integration of PTP and PTM modes under one common framework for all verticals enabling a dynamic use of PTM to maximize network and spectrum efficiency, paving way for new levels of network management and delivery cost-efficiency. The approval in 3GPP of the study item on 5G terrestrial broadcast based on LTE with support from the project will lead to significant impact in terms of standards and related products that enable wider delivery and access of PTM services.

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