5Qs on 5G: With 5G Lab Germany

5G Labs Project Leader Gerhard Fettweis

The 5G Lab Germany opened in September of last year as part of a partnership between Technische Universität Dresden (TU Dresden) and Vodafone. Inside5G spoke to joint-head of the programme, Gerhard Fettweis, to see how it was progressing.

What is the focus of your activities in 5G?

At our 5G Lab we are taking a holistic approach by addressing the challenge in four (overlapping) tracks. These are: (1) tactile internet applications (e.g. robotics, industry automation, connected cars & mobility), (2) edge cloud, (3) wireless and networking, and (4) semiconductors and hardware.

This way we are building a holistic understanding of the challenges and the specifications needed, as well as developing research breakthroughs in areas of strategic value.

What are your targets in terms of output and results?

“expect wide-scale global 5G rollout to start 2022”

We want to develop research breakthroughs that drive our vision of the Tactile Internet forward and make it possible. This way we want to ignite the industry within joint collaborations as well as help drive their vision in standards bodies.

We expect wide-scale global 5G rollout to start 2022, with a first test installation of a 5G network during the summer Olympics in Tokyo (2020).

“continuing to generate startups which capture some of the new markets made available by the arrival of the Tactile Internet”

We collaborate globally. So far our partners (with their country of main contact point) are Vodafone Group (UK), National Instrument (USA), Rohde & Schwarz (Germany), Nokia (Germany), Alcatel-Lucent (Germany) and Ericsson (Sweden).

We are also very much interested in continuing to generate startups which capture some of the new markets made available by the arrival of the Tactile Internet.

What use cases might this idea of tactile internet enable?

Obviously there are plenty. Firstly, cars being controlled and steered on streets, the ability to turn on a “personal bubble” as a pedestrian, thereby guaranteeing no accident can happen. Robots can also be steered in factories, enabling individualised manufacturing of goods at a price-point making this accessible to everyone (not at a price-point of a Rolls Royce).

“remote controlled humanoid robots, helping … everyone when handling difficult or dangerous tasks”

Then there is remote controlled surgery and remote controlled humanoid robots , helping fire fighters, construction workers, and everyone when handling difficult or dangerous tasks. And also ‘edutainment’ as well as emerging applications such as drones and swarm controlled agriculture harvesting.

What are the main challenges faced in the development and standardisation of 5G?

“massive reduction in end-2-end latency … massive increase in data rates … massive improvement in resilience and reliability”

The main challenges are the massive reduction in end-2-end latency (reaching 1ms), the massive increase in data rates of 10Gb/s and above and the massive improvement in resilience and reliability, reaching downtimes below 10-5.

In addition we see a further massive increase in connected sensors (reaching 10000/cell) and massive increase in security, to secure end-2-end safety and security.

And then there is spectrum. The World Radio Conference (WRC) of the United Nations of November 2015 will clearly mark the first bands, and we expect a large new portion to be assigned during WRC 2019.

What is the future of this network in terms of latency rates and cell density?

The end-to-end latency of remote interaction must be driven towards 1 millisecond. This is what human beings experience in a natural setting in a seamless real-time interaction with real and virtual objects. It is also the latency required for most machine-to-machine interactions when we are controlling the movement of machines (e.g. cars on a road or robot arms in a factory).

“technology that covers cities as well as rural areas”

It will be a technology that covers cities as well as rural areas. As we see that the 1ms end-to-end reaction time can be achieved with cell sizes of 10km radius, 5G Tactile Internet applications and the rollout is not restricted to cities alone.

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