5th Workshop on “5G – Putting Intelligence to the Network Edge” (5G-PINE 2020)

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Motivation

 

The 5th 5G-PINE Workshop has been established to disseminate knowledge obtained from ongoing EU projects as well as from any other action of EU-funded research, in the wider thematic area of “5G Innovative Activities – Putting Intelligence to the Network Edge” and with the aim of focusing on Artifical Intelligence (AI) in modern 5G telecommunications infrastructures.

This should take place by emphasizing upon associated results, methodologies, trials, concepts and/or findings originating from technical reports/deliverables, from related pilot actions and/or any other relevant 5G-based applications, intending to enhance intelligence to the network edges.

 

Internet grows into a more “complex” and “sophisticated” entity than it was originally intended to be some years ago. Actually, it is much more than “simply a modern communication system” as it comprises of numerous essential parts and/or “components” of modern networks, platforms, infrastructures and of related (usually innovative) facilities together with multi-generated “content” and a variety of connected equipment and devices. Internet is the essential “core” of our modern world towards creating a real knowledge-based society and a variety of businesses providing numerous challenges for development and growth. New and unexpected applications and services are nowadays emerging from cutting-edge technological developments that “shape” the requirements for future progress and this dynamic evolution makes the entire context of reference “more fascinating”. Internet’s rapid evolution also influences socio-economic, environmental and cultural aspects of modern society. The Future (Internet-based) Networks aim to enable smart connectivity for all, anywhere, at any time at the highest speed and efficiency fulfilling the overwhelming demands of today’s modern societies, but also overcoming challenges about security, privacy, etc.


The convergence of telecommunications and IT systems in future networks will result in open platforms which will enable new opportunities for innovation and new business models for all involved market players (especially for the SMEs). This will, in turn, require more systematic adoption of software defined networking (SDN) concepts to adapt future networks to new requirements allowing continuous and fast innovation cycles in the communication infrastructures and in the Internet as well as for the promotion of modern network and service management features.

In any case, the communication network and service environment of the future will be enormously enhanced and much more complex than the one of today.  The corresponding network infrastructures will be capable of “connecting everything” according to a diversity of application-specific requirements, that is: People, things, processes, computing centres, content, knowledge, information, goods; and all these in a quite flexible, really mobile, and powerful way. Thus, it is expected that the Future Internet (FI) -based context will encompass an intense variety of connected sensors, connected (smart) vehicles, smart meters and smart home gadgets way beyond our current experience of tablet and smartphone connectivity. As a consequence, the forthcoming and purely innovative 5G technological framework promotes the design/establishment and operation of a next generation network that will provide reliable, omnipresent, ultra-low latency, broadband connectivity, and will be able of managing critical and demanding applications/services, which are further modified by new challenging personalised applications, proliferate at an immense rate.

The new generation of mobile and wireless systems, identified as 5th Generation (5G), intends to deliver solutions to the continuously increasing demand for mobile broadband services associated with the immense penetration of wireless equipment while, simultaneously supporting new use cases associated to customers of new market segments and vertical industries (e.g., e-health, automotive, energy). Consequently, the vision of the future 5G Radio Access Network (RAN) corresponds to a highly heterogeneous network with unprecedented requirements in terms of capacity, latency or data rates. To efficiently cope with this enormous heterogeneity and complexity, the RAN planning and optimization processes can benefit -at a large extent- from exploiting cognitive capabilities that embrace knowledge and intelligence.

In this direction, legacy systems already started the automation in the planning and optimization processes through Self-Organizing Network (SON) functionalities. In 5G, also by assessing the dawn of big data technologies, it is envisioned that SON can be further evolved towards a more proactive approach able to exploit the huge amount of data available by a (Mobile) Network Operator and to incorporate additional dimensions coming from the characterization of end-user experience and end-user behavior. Then, SON can be enhanced through Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based tools, able to smartly process input data from the environment and come up with knowledge that can be formalized in terms of models and/or structured metrics that represent the network behavior.

This will allow gaining in-depth and detailed knowledge about the whole 5G ecosystem, understanding hidden patterns, data structures and relationships, and using them for a more efficient network management.

Moreover, 5G aims to deliver intelligence directly to network’s edge, exploiting the emerging paradigms of Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) and Edge Cloud Computing (ECC). In particular, 5G targets at offering rich virtualisation and multi-tenant capabilities, not only in term of partitioning network capacity among multiple tenants, but also offering dynamic processing capabilities on-demand, optimally deployed close to the user. Furthermore, the Small Cell (SC) concept, will be enriched in the context of 5G with virtualization and edge computing capabilities, so as to support improved cellular coverage, capacity and applications for homes and enterprises, as well as dense metropolitan and rural public spaces in a dynamic and flexible manner.

The potential benefits from such a combined approach of Network Virtualization, Edge Computing and Small Cells with the aim of improving network management, trigger the interest of Communications Service Providers (CSPs) such as Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) and Over-The-Top (OTT) content and service providers, by generating the emerging of new business models and allowing them to gain an extra share in the network market by pursuing emerging business models.

Correlation between the above conceptual approach and AI-based tools may be the “key issue” for a variety of factors that could ensure the proper development and exploitation of 5G telecommunications infrastructures in modern economies!

 

Experimental platforms for 5G in Europe are the results of private and public efforts at national and European level. Accelerating trial capabilities and other pilots, the platforms remain subject to continuous efforts targeting the full 5G picture and future evolutions. As such, actual 5G infrastructure deployment roadmap is highly dependent on the capability to deliver relevant and comprehensive set of platforms addressing remaining gaps & challenges.

From a high level perspective, one way to “view” the 5G ecosystem is in terms of Platforms (Hardware (HW) and Software (SW)), Services and Use Cases (UCs). For new Platforms and Services to be created, investment and development are required. Key decisions need to be taken, both business-wise and technically. Business cases have so to be developed, and tests, trials and evaluations conducted to satisfy the various stakeholders that expected outcomes are being achieved. Considering vertical sectors, these will make use of the new Platforms and Services and generate Use Cases for their particular sector. Again investment and development will be required (new processes or ways of doing business may need to be considered), key decisions taken, business cases developed and evaluations conducted.

 

Among others, the 5th Workshop on “5G- Putting Intelligence at the Network Edge” aims to investigate and give answers to the following research questions:

·         What are the requirements for the successful “combination” of the three fundamental concepts, i.e. NFV, Small Cells and Edge Computing, towards serving more efficient network management?

·         How the above concepts could be correlated to suitable autonomic-cognitive cycles?

·         How SON functionalities can properly be integrated in modern 5G infrastructures and how such functionalities can be enhanced through appropriate AI-based tools?

·         Which applications/services may benefit most, e.g., Internet of Things and Fog Computing?

·         Which may be the new business models that may arise due to the “Intelligence at the network edge”?

·         How progress at the network edge can support development of eMBB and V2X solutions, especially relevant to global 5G challenges also aiming to serve the automotive sector?

·         How evolution of innovation at the network edge can support the establishment and the operation of platforms to act as “5G enablers”?

·         What are the security and privacy implications of placing intelligence at the network edge?

·         How to guarantee continuity and quality of service also within the framework of the wider “quality of experience”, while placing intelligence at the network edge?

·         Are there any foreseen trade-offs, e.g., low latency vs. increase of intra-domain traffic?

·         How to handle the explosion of the traffic and provide the necessary capacity, spectrum?

·         How to flexibly accommodate novel classes of services (IoT, M2M, or content-based, and others which are not known today) whilst keeping low CAPEX and OPEX?

·         How to develop use cases of interest in verticals and to examine opportunities for growth in the broader telecommunications market?

·         How to promote new applications in the fields of network softwarisation and virtualisation?

·         How to develop the Small Cell-as-a-Service (ScaaS) context in 5G-oriented scenarios?

·         How to propose suitable business models to fulfill expectations originating from 5?.

 

The effort is expected to be around the thematic context of the actual MCSA EU-funded project “MOTOR5G” (Grant Agreement (GA) No.861219).

The main objective of the project MOTOR5G is to motivate and skill competitive young researchers through involvement and engagement in a variety of research activities enabling them to work on real-life technical issues, across multiple European countries and organizations, and providing a strong networking opportunity through participation as speakers in conference and workshop events and through engagement with industry and other stakeholders (e.g., standardization). The project focus is upon embedding artificial intelligence into 5G communication systems for the smarter use of network-generated data, the automated enabling of network operators and service providers to adapt to changes in traffic patterns, security risks and user behavior and thus paving the way towards safe and reliable next-generation wireless ecosystems. MOTOR5G considers aspects such as use of drone-based technology for enhanced multi-antenna and data forwarding techniques, use of artificial intelligence for novel adaptive digital beamforming techniques applied on realistic antenna arrays; communications in the millimetre-wave bands, blockchain-based approach to spectrum management and sharing, use of machine learning for enhanced quality of experience, and would in parallel focus on novel business models to sustain profitable operation of beyond 5G ecosystems.

Three demonstration scenarios have been planned: localization, drone-based communications, and combined 5G-based video production and video distribution network in a stadium.

In addition, the effort is also to be oriented to the context of the actual EU-funded project “5G-DRIVE” (Grant Agreement (GA) No.814956), which aims at testing and validating the interoperability between EU and China 5G networks for V2X (“Vehicle-to-Everything”) scenarios, being the only EU-funded project in this thematic area. 5G-DRIVE will trial and validate the interoperability between EU and China 5G networks operating at 3.5 GHz bands for enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) and 3.5 & 5.9 GHz bands for V2X scenarios. More specifically, 5G-DRIVE: (i) Predicts for joint trials and research activities to facilitate technology convergence, spectrum harmonisation and business innovation before large scale commercial deployments of 5G networks take place; (ii) aims to develop key 5G technologies and pre-commercial testbeds for eMBB and V2X services in collaboration with the twinned Chinese project led by China Mobile, and; (iii) promotes trials for testing and validating key 5G functionalities, services and network planning, as will be conducted in eight cities across the EU and China. The project “triggers” the roll-out of real 5G networks and V2X innovative solutions, thus driving new business opportunities. Therefore, 5G-DRIVE intends to support 5G harmonisation & R&I (Research & Innovation) cooperation between EU and China through strong connected trials & research activities, with a committed mutual support from the China “5G Product R&D Large-scale Trial” project led by China Mobile. The 5G-DRIVE effort will test and demonstrate the latest 5G key technologies in pre-commercial 5G networks. The project will run three extensive trials in Finland, Italy and UK.

Last but not least, the effort will also be around the thematic context of the 5G-PPP (phase 2) EU-funded project “5G ESSENCE” (Grant Agreement (GA) No.761592).

The 5G ESSENCE addresses the paradigms of Edge Cloud computing and Small Cell-as-a-Service (SCaaS) by fuelling the drivers and removing the barriers in the Small Cell (SC) market, forecasted to grow at an impressive pace up to 2020 and beyond and to play a key role in the 5G ecosystem. Although this project will be completed by late of February 2020, due to the multiplicity of innovative research results coming from recent trials, it is expected that strong expression of interest will be demonstrated by the involved partners.

5G ESSENCE provides a highly flexible and scalable platform, able to support new business models and revenue streams by creating a neutral host market and reducing operational costs by providing new opportunities for ownership, deployment, operation and amortisation. 5G ESSENCE leverages knowledge, SW modules and prototypes from various 5G-PPP Phase-1 projects, “SESAME” (GA No.671596) being particularly relevant. Among the fundamental 5G ESSENCE objectives are: (i) Full specification of critical architectural enhancements; (ii) definition of the baseline system architecture and interfaces for the provisioning of a cloud-integrated multi-tenant SC network and a programmable RRM (Radio Resources Management) controller; (iii) development of the centralised SD-RAN (Software-Defined Radio Access Network) controller to program the radio resources usage in a unified way for all CESCs (Cloud-Enabled Small Cells); (iv) exploitation of high-performance and efficient virtualisation techniques for better resource utilisation, higher throughput and less delay at the network service creation time; (v) development of orchestrator’s enhancements for the distributed service management; (vi) demonstration and evaluation of the cloud-integrated multi-tenant SC network; (vii) conduct of a market analysis and establishment of new business models, and; (viii) maximisation of impact to the realisation of the 5G vision. The project has promoted innovative innovate solutions via dedicated trials to serve three selected uses cases directly coming from the vertical industries, that is: (i) Edge network acceleration in a crowded event within a stadium; (ii) mission critical applications for public safety (PS) communications providers, and; (iii) in-flight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) communications.

The above “joint approach” is expected to “delineate” a new conceptual approach with dedicated paradigms and scenarios of use of market significance that can serve as “guidelines” for any further evolution process.

Among the “core” aims will be the structuring of a novel 5G-oriented network architecture that will be able to serve not only modern mobile broadband applications/services but simultaneously multiple domains coming from vertical industries, thus promoting 5G inclusion in a variety of market sectors (such as health, transportation, tourism, agriculture, industry and many more). 

It is expected that other European 5G-PPP projects actually having cooperation with 5G ESSENCE, are also to “join” the 5th “5G-PINE” Workshop, by providing results and/or other experiences based upon their progress.

Some of these 5G-PPP projects  of phase 3 (i.e., those that are relevant to the 5G-PINE 2020 Workshop / AIAI 2020 framework) are to be officially invited to contribute to the Workshop.

The 1st 5G-PINE Workshop has been organised in the context of the AIAI-2016 International Conference (Thessaloniki, Greece, September 2016).

The 2nd 5G-PINE Workshop has been organised in the context of the EANN-2017 International Conference (Athens, Greece, August 2017).

The 3rd 5G-PINE Workshop has been organised in the context of the AIAI-2018 International Conference (Rhodes, Greece, May 2018).

The 4th 5G-PINE Workshop has been organised in the context of the AIAI-2019 International Conference (Hersonissos, Heraklion, Crete, May 2019).

The actual 5th 5G-PINE Workshop is proposed in the context of the AIAI-2020 International Conference as a conceptual “continuity” of the previous workshops, but now it should be more oriented to AI-based solutions and challenges, in order to promote solutions for more enhanced network management in modern 5G networks. Among others, special emphasis is to be given to actual trials and related efforts at European and at global level, promoting the validation and adoption of modern 5G-based solution and services.  

This is to take place according to the technical progress and the evolution of the 5G ESSENCE project (as well as to the evolution of other 5G-PPP projects of phase 3 (such as, for example, “5G-EVE”, “5GENESIS”, “5G-HEART”, “5G-TOURS”, “5G!DRONES”,“LOCUS”, “MonB5G”) and/or other invited H2020 projects (such as, for example, “RESISTO”, “FASTER”, “Cyber-Trust”, “YAKSHA”).

The 5th 5G-PINE Workshop intends to realize a framework of an open and interactive cooperation and for exchanging ideas, knowledge and practices between several EU-funded projects (coming from H2020 and 5G-PPP) covering several among the identified specific topics and possible application areas (as discussed in the section below).