Further Mission-Critical Features Planned for 3GPP Release 17
Monday, December 16, 2019 | Comments
The latest Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) meetings set out a list of approved content for Release 17, including mission-critical features, set to be finalized by September 2021.

For Release 17, the physical layer work in RAN1 will start at the beginning of next year, while radio protocol and architecture work in RAN2 and RAN3, respectively, will start in the second quarter.

In RAN1, several features to address different needs of vertical industries were approved. These features include sidelink enhancements to address critical communications and automotive industry needs. This feature could have implications similar to direct mode for public safety. In addition, positioning enhancements to address stringent accuracy and latency requirements for indoor industrial cases and more functionality to better support low latency and industrial internet of things (IoT) requirements were added.

The RAN2 new release is expected to add support for public-safety multicasting and venue-casting, enabling large numbers of users in specific geographies to simultaneously receive warnings or other notifications.

SA6 is the working group where public-safety and critical communications specifications have been determined and integrated into the 3GPP standards. Release 16 completed the enhanced mission-critical push to talk (MCPTT) architecture phase two, along with enhanced mission-critical communications interworking with LMR systems work items, among several others.

The SA6 group expanded its scope to take on other forms of mission-critical services, including railway communications work and Isolated E-UTRAN Operation for Public Safety (IOPS), a new Release 17 feature. Work has started on how mission-critical services can be ported to the 5G system.

In a late September webinar, Suresh Chitturi, SA6 working group chair, introduced the group’s work to provide application layer functional elements and interfaces that will serve the needs of new industry sectors by providing a middleware layer as a common service platform for 5G implementations.

The main purpose of the common application programming interface framework (CAPIF) is to have a unified north bound API framework across several 3GPP functions. There is a single and harmonized approach for API development, with a number of 3GPP specifications on the work, to specify a framework to host APIs of public land mobile networks (PLMN) and to allow for third parties to leverage the CAPIF framework to host their APIs.

CAPIF was delivered in Release 15, enhancements coming in Release 16, and is integrated with the northbound APIs developed by 3GPP SA2 and 3GPP SA4.

The CAPIF architecture has three main entities specified: CAPIF core function (CCF), API exposing function (AEF) and the API invoker. The CCF is the central repository for all of the APIs, taking care of authentication, onboarding and aspects related to logging and charging. The AEF wraps around the 3GPP functions to enable the APIs to be exposed.

Many of the industries considering running applications over 3GPP systems may need similar core capabilities as others and benefit from work already done. TS 23.434 specified an architecture that can allow pieces of functionality (services) to be used across different verticals.

Service enabler architecture layer (SEAL) services are supported for both user equipment (UE) on network and off network in a business-to-business model. The work also looked at interconnection — between multiple SEAL servers to enable distributed SEAL deployments — and interservice communications for interaction between SEAL servers, to allow a user to create a group based in a particular location.

The SEAL architecture has the SEAL client for client-side functionality and the SEAL server on the network. The SEAL client entity includes all of the various clients related to services such as group location, key and identity management, and the same concept is on the network side.

Vertical application enablers allow an application support layer for vertical applications such as vehicle to everything (V2X).

EDGEAPP is a new activity, with groups across 3GPP starting to look at this. The aims are to enable applications to be hosted on the edge of the 3GPP network. One of the main areas focused on is to minimalize the impact to edge-based applications, so they do not need major app redevelopment for UE use at the edge.

More information on SA6 work is outlined in the blog and webinar here.

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