Transport Network Leads to the 5G Promise

Abstract background of wires and glowing particles

By Kashif Hussain

Midhaul: As Critical as Fronthaul and Backhaul —

5G technology is touted as a platform that enhances our connected world. To deliver on this promise, 5G demands the network supporting it to be as flexible as the services running on it.

High-Level 5G Use Cases

The following high-level 5G use cases are well understood and documented by the wireless industry.

Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) — providing greater data-bandwidth services with peak data rates of 10 Gbps and beyond. This data rate enables new use cases such as augmented reality/virtual reality or ultra-high density (UltraHD) applications.

Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communications (URLLC) — providing ultra-reliable capabilities with availabilities in the range of 99.9999%, and extremely low latency features in millisecond range. Vehicle-to-vehicle communication over 5G networks is one prominent use case for this category.

Massive Machine Type Communication (mMTC) — supporting extremely large numbers of devices in the range of hundreds of thousands per square kilometer. Essential for this application class are battery lives up to 10 years.

The big challenge is how to support these use cases on the same network. (See Figure 1.) Much of the trade buzz to date has been centered on 5G-NR (new radio), virtualized core, and mm-Wave spectrum. Receiving far less attention, but equally important as the new radio interface, is the evolution of the transport network connecting 5G nodes that enable the key 5G use cases — simultaneously.

Figure 1. Importance of key capabilities in different usage scenarios. (Source: ITU IMT Vision)

5G lives and dies by the transport network supporting it. Learn why.

Originally published on isemag.com December 1, 2020