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5G Network Slice Project Trial in China

China Telecom is excited to announce a new 5G network slice project trial in China, which will soon be leveraged in enterprise and industrial applications. Along with leading technology partners from around the world, China Telecom participated in the “5G Slicing + MEC + Intelligent Manufacturing” trial to explore the uses of 5G network slicing and Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) in 5G networks to enable intelligent manufacturing and Industrial IoT applications in China. This research will pave the way for 5G smart factories, and other scenarios and use cases for 5G in the enterprise.

Introducing 5G to the Intelligent Manufacturing Industry

5G is likely to be far more advantageous to the business market than to the consumer market. Within the business market, the technology itself is sound, but the greatest concerns lie in implementation. 5G network slice technology is ready for business use on a technical level, but it needs to be tested in practice. Both business and pricing models are yet to be brought to market.

Regardless, 5G is necessary for any industry that currently operates with the Internet of Things. 5G will be able to extend into intelligent warehousing, logistics, and supply systems, in addition to manufacturing and production. Through 5G, manufactures are going to be able to better leverage their intelligent technology and their smart systems capabilities to gain unprecedented real-time visibility, edge processing with isolation and control of mission-critical operations.

5G Network Slicing Breakthroughs to Come

China Telecom, as a leader in Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), is presently working with technology partners and the ETSI to explore standards and specifications for deploying network slicing in MEC-enabled 5G networks. According to ETSI, “Network Slicing allows the allocation of the required features and resources from the available network functions to different services or to tenants that are using the services,” and the potential to give customers the ability to create instantly validated, low-latency slices, improving the overall functionality and security of the 5G ecosystem – a potential major advancement for enterprise networking. Analysts are optimistic on MEC for manufacturing as well, with Research and Markets predicting that the MEC market in support of manufacturing in Asia will reach $194.4M by 2024.

To support the demand, China Telecom was able to achieve a 5G end-to-end call through the 5G trial network with a commercial chipset terminal in 2018.  This year,  China Telecom has been further conducting standalone trials at manufacturing facilities, to show the true power of 5G network slice with MEC processing. In the first ever test of this type of technology in a manufacturing setting, industrial vision inspection equipment and an AI-based industrial vision analysis system running on nearby MEC servers were used to identify anomalies and in the production line from multiple high-definition (20 Mbps) video streams with a delay of less than 20ms to immediately alert workers if anomalies were discovered.

This highlights the potential uses of 5G in a manufacturing capacity. With the higher speeds and larger volumes of data available, smart devices like tele-robotics and robotics in industrial automation use-cases are able to perform exceedingly complex tasks in real-time. This opens the door for additional automation, flexibility, and significant improvements in manufacturing, shipping, logistics, and other industrial applications.

The Benefits of a 5G Network Slice

Around the globe, countries are trying to figure out how they are going to manage the implementation of 5G. 5G slicing allows for the creation of isolated, end-to-end networks on the same physical network. A single physical network can be used to virtualize a multitude of networks, thereby making it possible to support 5G solutions. At present, 5G solutions have vastly different levels of requirements. Unlike 2G and 3G, a one-size-fits-all approach cannot be used.

China Telecom’s experiments with 5G slicing will make it truly feasible to utilize 5G devices within an organization’s infrastructure, thereby facilitating all the benefits that come with 5G technology.

Network slicing vastly improves security through network segmentation. With network security being one of the primary concerns with smart devices and internet of things devices, this is a major draw and selling point. Through 5G slicing, companies are going to be able to leverage fully secured solutions, without compromising performance.

China Telecom Will Deliver First End-to-End 5G Network Slicing

This experiment will ultimately lead to the first 5G smart factory, which will then be used as an example and prototype for future 5G use. This exciting technology is something that manufacturers have been waiting for, as the technology allows them to leverage new smart machines and smart devices with low latency and greater reliability.

Ultimately, many believe that network slicing is going to be the determining factor regarding whether 5G wireless is going to be a success. But China Telecom is excited to announce that the benefits of 5G have already been proven, and that there will be more to come.