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Written by Sindhu Yogish | August 1, 2023

MNT Tech Insights (part 1): Telecom 4.0

This new blog series called MNT Tech Insights is based on sessions from the MNT Forum, an inhouse hybrid event hosted by Rohde & Schwarz in Munich. The forum was attended by the industry professionals from the cellular network ecosystem to exchange innovative ideas.

MNT Tech Insights (part 1): Telecom 4.0

As a beginner myself in the mobile network testing industry, it was a great opportunity to get a dive into trending topics such as Telecoms 4.0 which is clearly a futuristic approach. Here I had a chance to talk with one of the speakers Tom Collins, Research Engineer and Consultant from Citymesh and ask him a set of questions that had piqued my interest.

Sindhu Yogish: Industry 4.0 is talk of the town, but what is Telecom 4.0?

Tom Collins:

Telecom 4.0 is a term we’ve used in-house to describe the trend in mobile network solutions, where demand is moving from design-to-scale, and towards design-to-requirement solutions, especially seen for private networks, slicing and novel QoS methods. We’ve found the big vendors are still focused on large country-size deployments, making their solutions less competitive for private networks.

The trend appears to be driven by the same technological and business innovations in the industrial manufacturing world, where competition is becoming less about single-source, mass scale, generic products and more towards ideas around open ecosystems, customization, batch-size-one and listening to the ‘voice of the customer’.

It seems traditional players offering public services have a hard time adapting to the changing and diverse demands, leaving new entrants to leverage more modular, more data-driven and software-defined tools that increase flexibility, lower costs and give a little smarter than today. So essentially, it’s what makes us challenger to the typical connectivity status-quo we see today.

Well explained! Since you are intending to close the gap and address the group who are looking for customized solutions but still are part of the innovations in the manufacturing industry.

Sindhu Yogish: Could you give us some insights how Citymesh is unique in the industry?

Tom Collins:

Two technical USPs really make us stand out, we are a mobile operator with nationwide spectrum, that focuses entirely on B2B services, so mission and business critical services. Second, we pioneer Drone-as-a-Service, with a world-first Safety Drone Shield network where we start with 70 available drones across Belgium that will be available from 10 BVLOS ROCs for a range of services, primarily focused on emergency use, industrial inspection and later environmental monitoring.

We also develop our own products and services when the market can’t deliver and we have a strong portfolio and references in offshore, dense campus networks and large factories and dockyards.

I understand that the scope is wide and you also invest time in developing your own products which means there is a strong interest in research and development.

Sindhu Yogish: As we are looking towards a promising future, can you introduce us to your research projects?

Tom Collins:

Three active research projects we are excited to share, combine our strategy for ad-hoc temporary networks, through to dedicated on-prem solutions with sophisticated network optimisation and network sharing capabilities.

Bolster is a Beyond 5G, Open-RAN compliant tactical network, supported by the Belgian Defense.

BOLSTER - Is a Beyond 5G, Open-RAN compliant tactical network, supported by the Belgian Defense. Our goal is to support civil protection and disaster response with a “tactical bubble” supporting search and rescue and communications when public networks fail. The project involves MCx, PTx, drone operation contribution using 5G broadcast and our academic partners will explore various anti-jamming and security techniques.

You can read more here: https://www.belspo.be/belspo/defra/projects/BOLSTER/BOLSTER_fiche_en.pdf

LIVE-G - Through this initiative we have explored broadcast capabilities in 5G, to improve media distribution at live events and for public safety purposes.

LIVE-G - Through this initiative we have explored broadcast capabilities in 5G, to improve media distribution at live events and for public safety purposes. In Live G we have had a positive collaboration with Rohde & Schwarz using their 5G Broadcast solution, including the BSCC2 which was demonstrated successfully earlier this year. We believe there is a massive potential for new services and enabled by lower network costs in comparison to the typical unicast technologies prevalent today.

Read more here at our partners website IMEC: https://www.imec.be/nl/vlaamse-innovatiemotor/samenwerking/imec-icon/projectportfolio/live

And here: https://www.rohde-schwarz.com/solutions/broadcast-and-media/content-distribution/5g-broadcast/5g-broadcast_250909.html

5GECO - is a Cross-domain Intelligent Neutral Host Architecture for 5G and Beyond

5GECO - Is a Cross-domain Intelligent Neutral Host Architecture for 5G and Beyond, so using the concept MoNeH, we go further to provide ARP, Slice and 5QI options to define resources and quality guarantees. We work at the IDLab from the University of Gent and the University of Antwerpen, and several other commercial partners, where we consider novel optimisation for radio, transport and compute SDx resources, as well as the implication of cross-domain. You can find out more in a paper published in IEEE InfoComm Conference on Computer Communications at https://infocom.info/workshops/track/NG-OPERA

Together, these projects position us with knowledge and experience with many new mobile trends that will become products and services in the coming years.

As the projects are future focused and during the course of the project you might have noticed some gaps which can have an impact on the industry. I think we agree that there is a new challenge every day.

Sindhu Yogish: In your perspective, what are the challenges faced by the test and measurement industry in the future?

Tom Collins:

Along with all the opportunities that open innovation brings us, there are perhaps more challenges to face in order to realize them. We see Open-RAN as promising change in the market, however using this in mission-critical services may need special SLAs and heavy redundancy especially where multi-vendor solutions exist.

The market for private networks is growing, with key uses on mobility, voice and information transfer today, but these clients recognize that beyond pilots and novel use cases, the benefits of 5G and beyond can enhance their operational and automation needs.

We see a trend in private network SLAs moving from simple response times, to availability and to performance guarantees of the network. In the future I suspect more and more the operator will have to guarantee the end-to-end performance of specific over the top applications which will be interesting to see.

Sindhu Yogish: Here is my last question to you, considering all the opportunities and challenges: What is your view on collaboration and projects with Rohde & Schwarz now and in the future?

Tom Collins:

With the rollout of our national network we have many obligations so we hope to grow our relationship, beyond early stage research and towards our flex, private and national network service teams. Our experience with the QualiPoc and ROMES solutions has been compelling and expect a great benefit from these. We have seen just a few of R & S's many capabilities and ability to respond with speed and deliver to the market, so I believe a fruitful and strong partnership will be formed over the coming years.

Thank you, Tom, for some great insights on Telecoms 4.0 from the perspective of Citymesh. Looking forward to future collaborations.

To all our readers, watch this space for interesting discussions coming your way. Stay tuned!

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