Ericsson packages ‘defined latency’ for 5G networks

Ian Scales
By Ian Scales

Oct 26, 2021

  • If it behaves as promised it could represent a big 5G moment
  • Consistent low latency was always supposed to be one of 5G’s big features
  • And it’s here (due 2022) and works (according to its big trialists)

Ericsson is attempting to plumb what might turn out to be the sweet spot in terms of 5G service types - at least for this first stage of services roll-out. It has released a software product for mobile and other CSPs, along with industrial IoT environments and private networks, called ‘Time Critical for Critical IoT’. Not exactly catchy - it’s more like a slogan designed to follow the brand name itself. Maybe Ericsson is just waiting for brand inspiration to strike.

As its slogan suggests, this is all about developing 5G services with a critical latency requirement (not neck-snapping, but a solid step forward from 4G) together with very high reliability. ‘Consistency is a word which crops up a lot here. Latency and 5 nines reliability are all very well but are they engineered to be totally consistent? That’s probably the hard part.  ‘Time Critical for Critical IoT’ is designed to support applications which ‘must’ have data exchanged within defined time delays if they’re to keep on running - so no falling back to buffering. 

As such the idea is to address a broad range of application requirements and existing use cases across a range of verticals and markets - just what you want when, as a service provider, you’re at the early stages of introducing 5G. 

Another way to define the nature of ‘critical’ might be to reference the idea of human real time: when, as a human participant in a game or virtual process you’re interacting with, you can’t detect any appreciable lag. That means the Ericsson service could be applied to a wide range of use cases, including industrial IoT (process control), remote control (for drones, say)  and that catch-all, ‘immersive XR experiences’. 

According to Ericsson ‘Time Critical for Critical IoT’ is a ‘toolbox’ rather than an application: you use it to construct and manage time-critical services and it can be deployed on public and private networks and on any 5G frequency band. 

It combines the 3GPP-specified ultra-reliable, low latency communication (URLLC) standard with Ericsson innovations to mitigate major causes of latency. It therefore looks unlikely to become a standard because Ericsson says it’s used its expertise in Radio Access Network, Transport, 5G Core, Service Management & Orchestration, BSS, and support services, to deliver the consistent consistent low latency (50ms to 1ms) end-to-end at specified guarantee levels (99.9 percent to 99.999 percent) – enabling time-critical use cases at scale. 

Ericsson has been busy trialing the technology with a whole raft of customers, name-checking  BT and Hyperbat, Einride and Telia, Boliden, ABB, Audi, Fraunhofer IPT, DT and Rockwell.

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