Network slicing and mmWave communication are two major developments in 5G
At Cloud Expo Frankfurt 2018, Scientist Dr. Arash Asadi (Secure Mobile Networking Lab, SEEMOO, TU Darmstadt) gives an outlook into the future of connectivity in Germany and what role 5G can play here. In this interview he provides exciting insights into his topic.
Title: Panel: 5G: The Future of Connectivity in Germany
Location: Next generation Infrastructure Theatre
Time: 13.05 - 13.50, Thurs 8th Nov
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Question: International network operators and infrastructure providers work on technical requirements and applications of the fifth generation of mobile communications 5G for fast wireless data transmission. What is the current status of development?
Arash Asadi: Well, 3GPP released the first standalone 5G New Radio (NR) standard last June. So we can say that there has been progress in terms of standardization. There have been several trials around the world testing the early prototypes developed by 5G vendors (e.g., Qualcomm). In my opinion, 5G is fighting on two fronts. First, the eco-system and second the radio spectrum. To give you a brief overview, 5G NR aims at providing specialized communication solutions to support the so-called industry 4.0 and future connected vehicles. This is what I meant by expanding their eco-system. To accommodate these new services, the mobile operators require larger bandwidth. As a result, many countries have allocated new chunks of radio spectrum in sub-6GHz and millimeter-wave bands for 5G NR.
Question: You research on 5G at SEEMOO's research project NICER (Networked Infrastructureless Cooperation for Emergency Response) and conduct basic research for high efficiency of infrastructureless communication. What are you currently working on?
Arash Asadi: Digitization has transformed every part of our society and this leads to novel vulnerabilities. It is no secret that our day-to-day life is highly reliant on communication infrastructure, be they wired or wireless. I am not just talking about social networks and emails, but also the businesses. In the past decades, we observed a surge in the number of online services. This applies both to public and private sectors. LOEWE NICER was a proactive effort to find solutions which avoid a complete blackout when this infrastructure is affected, say by natural disasters or cyber attacks. Although the funding period of NICER is over, we are still researching on methods to protect our communications and our society from such scenarios. NICER helped us to better understand the depth of such disasters in our today's networks. Many countries, Germany included, are now investing in developments of the so-called smart cities where everything is connected. Given our prior experience in NICER, we are now focused on: 1) analyzing the complications that could arise in case of different levels of communication disruptions in such cities; 2) proposing solutions which ensure maximal robustness against such disruptions. A straightforward example of that is your cell phone. If mobile base stations run out of power, these fancy devices will be completely useless. Acknowledging these drawbacks in our current communication systems, we are currently working towards quick response emergency solutions that ensure critical services remain functional during disasters.
Question: The title of your session at Cloud Expo Frankfurt is „5G: The Future of Connectivity in Germany“. How will connectivity in conjuction with 5G look in the future?
Arash Asadi: It is indeed an exciting time for us, communication experts. At the current digitalization pace, most of our gadgets/devices require a connection and 5G community is aiming to meet this need. Of course, this is a very challenging task given the diversity of use-cases (e.g., robots communicating in a factory or vehicles in a highway) and their requirement (e.g., ultra-low latency or Gigabits-per-second throughput).
Now focusing on Germany as a global leader in several industrial and technological sectors, I see two major developments in 5G which will be hopefully exploited by German industries. The first is network slicing. For understandable reasons, industries would like to have guaranteed services and resources when using any communication system, be wired or wireless. This was not „easily achievable“ in the past as the mobile operators needed to make many customized changes to their network to provide such guarantees which were obviously very expensive. With the advent of networking slicing, the mobile operators have the capability to reserve and dedicate resources for a given customer, thus guaranteeing the required quality of service. For example, if Frankfurt Messe decides to connect all security cameras to their security headquarter without running kilometers of cable, the local operator can dedicate part of their infrastructure to Frankfurt Messe. To get a bit more technical, the operator can accurately estimate the required resources knowing the number of cameras, their video quality, and location; Hence, providing a guaranteed quality of service. Without network slicing, such operations had a major financial burden on Frankfurt Messe which could have potentially motivated a more relaxed security audit. This was a security example, but many industries could increase their efficiency significantly by leveraging such solution.
A second potential area is the millimeter-wave (mmWave) communication which refers to using frequencies between 30-300 GHz. Just to give a background, the majority of today’s wireless technologies (WiFi, LTE-A) operate in frequency ranges below 6 GHz which are shared by many other services including TV broadcasters. The achievable data rate in these frequencies is mostly in the range of several 100 Megabits-per-second. However, achieving several Gigabits-per-second is what we expect in mmWave communication. This opens up the path for using wireless communication for a whole new set of application. Let me give you an example for autonomous driving which happens to be a hot topic these days. An autonomous vehicle is expected to consume between one to two Gigabits-per-second of data. The existing 4G solutions are simply incapable of providing such data rate. However, 5G NR is moving towards integrating the mmWave band in their future releases. I think this is the prime time, especially for the German automotive industry, to focus on enabling mmWave communication in their vehicles. I do not want to get into technical details and research challenges of mmWave communication, but it suffices to say that establishing and maintaining mmWave communication is much more challenging than sub-6GHz technologies. Thus, it is important that the German automotive industries invest sufficient R&D to keep up with other international manufacturers.
Question: In the field of connectivity, this year's „Digital Economy and Society Index“ ranks Germany only 13th of 28 EU member states. What are the reasons for this moderate result?
Arash Asadi: I am not born in Germany. I have been in Germany only a couple of years. To be honest, this is a very tough and broad question which is probably best answered by a team of sociologist and economics rather than me. So I rather refrain from giving an uninformed answer. What I can say is that this questions reminded me of another question I had when I arrived in Germany. How come in Germany we still rely so much on cash instead of card payments?!
Question: Is it true that you share your office with your wife, who is also a Scientist? Do you also work as a team and which benefits does this situation offer to you?
Arash Asadi: This question is probably not related to the Cloud Expo but perhaps a good break from the technical details discussed so far. My wife and I had been an sharing office for more than eight years now. Although both of us focus on wireless communication in our research, we research different aspects of networking and different type of networks. I find it very helpful that at the end of the day your partner completely understands your problem and can even help you out when you are stuck, which is often the case for researchers. However, until very recently, we did not have any joint research work. It was only a few years ago where we started to work on joint research problems wherever her or mine expertise could complement my or her research. I must admit sometimes our discussions get a bit intense, but we both believe that the outcome is worth it. Nevertheless, we usually limit the joint project to one or two per year, just in case...