by Thomas Zemen (AIT Austrian Institute of Technology) and Toon Norp (TNO)

5G standardisation and first system trials have generated significant interest in the new system capabilities and use cases of 5G. 5G aims to increase the peak data rate to 10Gbit/s, and focuses strongly on business applications where a latency (transmission delay from transmitter (TX) to receiver (RX)) of 1 ms and a battery lifetime of up to 10 years are key performance parameters. Clearly, a 5G system will not provide all the performance targets simultaneously for a single communication link. In fact, 5G provides a combination of three different use case categories, within one system. These three use cases are: (a) enhanced mobile broad band (eMBB) for data rates up to 10 Gbit/s, (b) massive machine type communication (mMTC) with low energy consumption for a battery life of 10 years, optimised for low data rates of 10 bit/s; and (c) ultra-reliable low latency communication (URLLC) providing 1ms latency at low frame error rates of 10-5.

URLLC has the biggest consequences for the existing eco-system of service providers, network operators and network vendors. Due to the required short latencies, a change in the overall system architecture is required,  in addition to the new wireless technology (5G). Application processing cannot be carried out by central cloud services but must be carried out very close to the terminal. This leads to “edge cloud” architectures, which must be developed in connection with the actual radio technology.

To support different applications with different requirements on a single network infrastructure, 5G supports the concept of slicing. With slicing a 5G network can support multiple “slices”, or virtual networks, each optimised for a particular application and with a different service level agreement. The goal of slicing is that 5G should support the wide range of applications envisaged in the digital society without requiring a multitude of dedicated infrastructures. On the other hand, for applications that have such specific requirements that implementation on a general network infrastructure is not feasible, it is also possible to implement non-public networks using 5G technology. Non-public networks can, for instance, be used for factory networks that have to support automation control, with very low latency requirements.


This special theme on 5G outlines a wide range of ongoing research activities within Europe. In the keynote from B. Barani, the future 5G eco system is described from a political point of view as well as ongoing trials and future research directions in the upcoming Horizon Europe funding scheme.
G. Dürrenberger’s contribution describes the special regulatory situation in Switzerland with respect to maximum electromagnetic ffield strength and the effects on the future 5G rollout.

In the article from M. Corici et al., the Open5GCore is described, which is used in multiple European 5G research projects. The 5G Playground in Berlin and its experiments with network slicing are presented. An end-to-end facility in Greece that is based on the Open5GCore is characterised by the contribution from C. Tranoris et al. The project 5G-Vinni aims to validate key performance indicators for end-to-end connections in different vertical industries. O. Apilo and his colleagues report on the project 5G Test Network (5GTN), that focuses on sport wearable devices and media broadcasting. Real-life use cases with cellular internet of things technologies (CIoT) were investigated empirically to shape the future development of CIoT in 5G systems.

A special deployment method for 5G network in light poles is presented by J. Varis from the LucTurrim5G project for establishing 5G mmWave networks. In the article by H. van den Berg et al. ultra dense 5G networks are envisioned that have a “self-planning” function using data driven machine learning concepts.

S. Faye et al. investigate methods to simulate connected automated vehicles and compare several wireless access methods ranging from IEEE 802.11p up to 5G. 5G can also be used to improve road safety, as discussed by T. Ojanperä in their article about the 5G-Safe project, which investigated crowd sourcing information for road maintenance inspection as well as improving the safety of autonomous vehicles. In the work of D. Loeschenbrand and T. Zemen, a new distributed 5G massive MIMO software defined radio (SDR) testbed is presented that enables the investigation of signal processing algorithms for vehicular URLLC links. The focus of the project MARCONI is on time-variant propagation conditions in massive MIMO systems.

M. Elshatshat et al. discuss device-to-device intercell interference coordination (ICIC) in 5G networks. The ICIC is optimised by utilising small base stations that operate as relays.

Factory communication is the focus of the contribution of H. Zhang. The project Clear5G and its approach to investigating non-orthogonal multiple access (NOMA) for machine-type communication with high node densities is presented.

Application scenarios for the integration of 5G aerospace networks are described by M. Bacco et al. A special focus is given to new techniques such as software defined networks (SDN) as well as network function virtualisation (NFV).

The security of the 5G standard is investigated in the contribution from L. Hirschi et al. They describe formal methods to verify the security of the 5G authentication and key agreement (AKA) protocol. Their found vulnerabilities led to a new and improved 5G AKA protocol version.

D. Hazael-Massieux presents the project Web5G. Their work investigated cross layer methods to reduce latency and allows for adaptive congestion control. With these improvements, applications such as augmented reality and 8K video streaming over 5G will become a reality.

Finally, E. Vlachos et al. discusses methods to realise tele-immersion (TI) for real-time interaction using 5G network and their edge computing infrastructure.
The articles in this special theme give a good overview of the diverse research required to realise the goals of 5G. With work on Release 16 currently ongoing and the targets outlined in the keynote of B. Barani, we can expect many interesting research questions into the future, even after the first 5G networks become operational.

Please contact:
Thomas Zemen
AIT Austrian Institute of Technology
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Toon Norp
TNO, The Netherlands
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Next issue: July 2019
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