Automating the Edge with Robotics

Look at that – a standalone 5G session on a multivendor commercial network

Look at that – a standalone 5G session on a multivendor commercial network

Consumers can be forgiven for assuming 5G networks are as established as local-area networks, given the intensifying marketing campaigns touting sketchy claims of compliance and use. A recent test revealed just how far service providers have come in deploying 5G – and how much work remains to be done.

South Korea’s SK Telecom last week claimed it had pulled off a standalone 5G data session on a commercial 5G network using Ericsson Inc. and Samsung Electronics equipment. Executives said it is the world’s first multivendor standalone commercial 5G network.

The data call happened Jan. 16 over SK Telecom’s commercial 5G network, and it will lead to what company executives say will be the world’s first standalone-5G service by July.

In a media statement, company executives said they were “standing on the threshold” of standalone-5G service offerings. No timeline was given.

A non-standalone 5G network, which is the type currently being deployed, actually is an updated 4G LTE system. It only has 5G features. A standalone 5G network is not based on 4G infrastructure.

Full 5G networks will facilitate the rapid expansion in capabilities of edge computing by opening up a greater flow of data online access compute capacity with low latency.

SK Telecom used standalone New Radio-compliant software on non-standalone 5G base stations. New Radio is a network-access standard within 5G written to speed mobile broadband and make it more responsive. The company then did the engineering work needed to make the Ericsson and Samsung network equipment operate with each other.

Network slicing also played a part in the project, according to SK Telecom. A networking technique, network slicing provides support for various 5G services. Through it, engineers partition one physical network into multiple virtual mobile networks.

Mobile edge computing (MEC) technology, used in creating the new network, offers a short cut for data transmission, minimizing latency. It calls for installing a small-scale data center at a 5G base station or router. The lower the latency, the better the performance of autonomous vehicles, networked factories and gaming in the cloud.

Days before announcing their 5G breakthrough, the companies said they were launching the so-called Global MEC Task Force.

Also included in the group are Singtel Group in Singapore, Globe in The Philippines, Taiwan Mobile and PCCW Global, a Hong Kong-based data and telecommunications firm.

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