Mission-Critical Features for Release 17 Discussed at Latest 3GPP Meetings
Wednesday, June 12, 2019 | Comments

The Service and System Aspects (SA) working group that outlined mission-critical features in the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standards is pushing forward with those same features and expanded offerings for 5G technology in Release 17 of the standards.

“The great thing is our mission-critical requirements appear to be aligned with a number of other verticals and general things happening in 3GPP,” said Tero Pesonen, chair of TCCA’s Broadband Group.

TCCA provided input to the radio access network (RAN) Release 17 planning, noting a key operational requirement for Release 17 is 5G new radio (NR) support for the current mission-critical functionality defined for Long Term Evolution (LTE). The global association said critical communications needs for 5G included device-to-device (D2D) communications, user equipment to network relay, satellite connectivity, in-building coverage and multicast/broadcast capability. An end-to-end testing capability is also necessary for market growth, TCCA said.

Vertical markets that can also use these features and technologies include the medical industry for assisted surgery, internet of things (IoT) relays for smart city implementations, the automotive industry for autonomous vehicles and others, Pesonen said.

The RAN Release 17 planning was conducted the first week of June during 3GPP Plenary #84 in Newport Beach, California. The meeting tackled what will be covered in Release 17 and the deadlines. Completion of the release is 15 to 18 months away.

Also during the meetings, Release 16 Stage 2 of the SA working group was frozen, meaning the features can’t change, but the standards group has another nine months to work out technical details for features set in the release. Release 16 is scheduled to be finalized by the second quarter of 2020.

“We see the trend that what we did in LTE is now progressing into 5G and looking forward to have all the services native in 5G,” said Georg Mayer, chair of the SA working group. “I’m seeing it from a different perspective; the technologies we create with mission-critical people have been proven and now are pushing into 5G.”

During the December 2018 plenary, the support of public-safety direct-mode capabilities in 5G were discussed, potentially leveraging the existing vehicle-to-everything (V2X) work. V2X communications include D2D communications defined as part of proximity services (ProSe). As part of ProSe services, a D2D interface was enhanced for vehicular use cases such as direct car-to-car communication and platooning. In the vehicular environment, the D2D interface is referred to as “sidelink."

However, D2D has not yet seen commercial implementation, which is hindering nationwide public-safety broadband networks in the U.S., U.K. and South Korea.

“We see synergies on a technological level, and this is a very powerful feature and allows new industries to push together,” Mayer said. “Mission critical isn’t alone anymore; it’s a large set of delegates who are interested. It seems to me that we will have a larger market push now and a larger desire for these technologies. So, chip manufacturers need to get into gear to enable this market.”

Pesonen said D2D is an example of why joining with other verticals is so critical. “It is very important for mission critical to cooperate with other verticals to create a sufficiently large market for the gatekeeper companies like chipmakers to enable the technology,” he said. “It is a good message for public safety — although we are important for society, we are not that many. With the cooperation work being done for Release 17, I am very hopeful that we have managed to reach the critical mass.”

Asked about the impact of the U.S. government’s moves to prevent Huawei from doing business in the United States and other countries, Mayer and Pesonen said that the June meetings progressed with business as usual.

“From the mission-critical sector, it is very important that global standardization can proceed,” Pesonen said.

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