“When will 5G finally be a reality, and what are the potential use cases?” For a few years now, these have been the most recurring questions from our service providers’ customers, and it’s no wonder because the fifth generation of telecommunications networks promises to completely transform the way we use the internet.
In Spain, 5G Core (5GC) Services experimentations began almost a year ago when we announced the launch of the Network Slicing 5G pilot, in which operators, technological allies such as Cisco, and entities including universities joined forces to demonstrate the capability of network slicing in a 5G infrastructure.
Since then, in collaboration with Telefónica, Securitas, Alisys, ZTE, and the Universidade de Vigo, we deployed the first European 5G Stand Alone (5G SA) private network, which is ultra-advanced, flexible, and adaptable to different types of services, with end-to-end transport network slicing capabilities for the surveillance sector.
This innovative project was made possible by a unique collaboration. Cisco provided the 5G SA network core and the software that facilitates virtualization, orchestration, and automation of services, along with the computing resources such as servers and transport through state-of-the-art switches.
For its part, ZTE provided the 5G SA radio with native slicing capabilities. In addition, as a partner of Boston Dynamics in Spain, Alisys supplied the Spot robot and the software platform for its remote control. As for Universidade de Vigo, it participated as a research center in 5G networks and was an active collaborator in the design, deployment, and validation of this demonstration, held Oct. 21 in Vigo, Spain.
So, what is network slicing, and what makes it revolutionary? A network slice is the software instantiation of required network functions, creating a logical sub-network that operates independently of the broader network. In this use case, the flexibility of this software-defined network supports the creation of a mobile network slice designed to support the very specific requirements of the robot.
Here, the most advanced robotics – a Boston Dynamics Spot robot – is connected to the 5G network to complement the physical surveillance tasks of Universidade de Vigo campus security, for which a specific slice or virtual network dedicated to critical services has been deployed. This guarantees the ultra-low latency and high bandwidth necessary for the successful remote control of the Spot robot, which is connected for the first time to a 5G SA network with slicing capability.
It should be noted that network slicing can also be applied to 4G, but 5G offers the ultra-low latency, ultra-high reliability, and extra bandwidth speeds that are needed to operate real-time robotics.
The capabilities of the Spot robot offer two possible scenarios in the field of surveillance of a venue in collaboration with Securitas. In the first, Spot is telecontrolled from a control center deployed to accompany the guard on her regular rounds in a way that complements and extends her physical perceptual capabilities by sending several video sequences in real-time with zoom, or thermal/360-degree vision. In the second, Spot performs a pre-inspection in environments that present a potential physical risk to the guard.
In both scenarios, the network capabilities support sending images and information streams in real-time, thus enabling the necessary measures to be taken from the control post.
A precedent for history
This proof of concept sets the tone for what 5G networks will be like from now on – ultra-evolved networks that have a direct impact on the digital transformation of businesses and society as a whole.
To dynamically adapt to different use cases, 5G networks must be flexible and programmable. We at Cisco are proud to supply the 5G core network slicing capabilities in this pioneering project that lays the foundation for the functionalities we expect to soon be available in the commercial network.
This co-innovation development will open up a wide range of possibilities for the digitization of multiple sectors in Spain and across Europe. Are you as excited as we are? Leave me comments on your visions of the scope of 5G around the world.
Discover more information about our 5G Network Architecture.