NOKIA is leading a new revolution in global connectivity. Their networks businesses are enabling a new type of network, converging mobile and fixed broadband access, IP routing and optical networks, with the software and services to optimise network performance.

Nokia’s Mobile Networks business delivers end-to-end mobile broadband products and services that help customers adapt to meet the ever-increasing demand for content and connectivity, scale with efficiency, and deliver a high quality and reliable mobile broadband experience.

Here we discuss with NOKIA about their role in ICT4CART and the latest telecommunication technologies.

NOKIA in ICT4CART: What is your role?

NOKIA provides a test network located in the City of Ulm and its surrounding area. In the first phase of ICT4CART the radio technology LTE is available, which is complemented in the second phase of ICT4CART with 5G New Radio. NOKIA’s test network covers many types of roads, from motorway to small inner-city side streets. Vehicular applications, which use cellular connectivity can therefore be tested in a wide range of traffic scenarios. Our focus lies on the strict latency requirements needed for automated and autonomous driving. This is realized by providing infrastructure located at the edge of the radio access network, i.e. in close proximity of the users to avoid long transmission paths for time-critical data. Solutions such as Mobile Edge Computing (MEC), edge cloud, and virtualisation of mobile services are applied.

During the ICT4CART project phase, the test network will be also enhanced by Real Time Kinematics (RTK) to allow very high position information provided directly by the mobile network.

The main interest of NOKIA is to understand the specific requirements of vertical applications in the automotive sector in order to improve, e.g. the performance of the underlying radio technologies.

In addition, NOKIA supports the activity to elaborate exploitation plans resulting from the ICT4CART applications.

Can you explain how the specific requirements of the automotive area can be met by the communication networks?

In ICT4CART a hybrid communication approach was adopted to safeguard seamless and continuous communication amongst the different actors, such as OBUs in vehicles, RSUs, and application servers. Hybrid communication based on cellular communication networks (3GPP LTE/5G) and ad-hoc networks (ETSI ITS G5) is studied. NOKIA focuses on the requirements, which have to be met by cellular communication networks.

Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) use their cellular networks to offer mobile communication to a wide range of customers with highly diverse requirements. The requirements are often categorized in enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communications (URLLC), and massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC). eMBB type of service may be needed for in-vehicle entertainment systems, while URLLC is needed for time critical information such as collision warnings from and to vehicles for automated driving, and mMTC for sensor data such as engine status or smart city IoT applications.

Network slicing is one central aspect to meet the specific requirements: Network slicing is a network architecture where logical networks/partitions are created within the cellular communication network with appropriate isolation, resources, and optimized topology for service categories or customers and their specific requirements. The idea behind network slicing is to reduce costs for a specific service by sharing infrastructure while at the same time to be able to meet the latency, reliability, throughput, and security requirements of the service.

Network slicing allows independent deployment of Edge Computing, isolated from the remaining network infrastructure of a mobile network operator. Edge Computing is the second central aspect to meet the stringent latency requirements of a service. Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC), also called Edge Computing, is a technology that provides cloud and IT services within close proximity of mobile subscribers, therefore reducing the end-to-end network latency.

If vehicular messages have to be transmitted between an OBU and an application server via the cellular network and the Internet, a transmission latency of 50 ms and more is not uncommon. This transmission delay is too high for time-critical applications, such as Collision Warnings or Autonomous Driving. The transmission latency can be shortened to 10 ms in LTE and may be reducible to up to 1ms with 5G NR.

What is NOKIA’s perspective regarding the feasibility and challenges of bringing these technologies into real-life, daily driving with automated vehicles?

The main challenge is the financial aspect. The key advantage of cellular communication networks is that they are already deployed and provide sufficient coverage in many countries. Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) communication via a mobile network can thus be provided in a very cost-efficient manner.

However, the quality of service (QoS) requirements of vehicular services have to be met, especially for time and mission critical messages, such as Collision Warnings. The QoS is measured in terms of transmission latency, reliability, throughput rate, etc. A low transmission latency and very high reliability can be achieved, however comes with the cost of reserving radio resources and transmission capacity in cellular networks with network slicing, and with the deployment of edge computing. It is therefore essential to determine for vehicular services their requirements and find the most cost-efficient solution which still meets the set requirements.

The new 5G mobile communication standard was explicitly designed to allow network slicing and edge computing. It can therefore be expected that the costs for network slicing and edge computing will drop in the next years. 5G New Radio (NR) also has the potential to reduce the transmission delay on the radio interface, which in combination with edge computing will make it very feasible for services requiring Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communication.

You mentioned also Real-time kinematic positioning (RTK). How can precise localization as a service be provided?

GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems) receivers such as GPS are nowadays often used in base stations of a cellular network to synchronise the communication between them and other network elements of the cellular communication network. MNOs have thousands, if not tens of thousands base station sites. A vehicle connected to a cellular communication network is typically between some hundred meters to 10 km distant from its serving base station.

RTK is a technique to enhance the precision of position data derived from GNSS. This correction data can be generated at base station sites and made available to vehicles. As a rule of thumb, the closer correction data is generated to the current location of the vehicle, the higher the location precision available for the vehicle. MNOs therefore can provide cheaply RTK as value added service to vehicular applications – which may run on Edge Computers – and thus to vehicles in the proximity of its base stations.

This interview is part of the “Meet ICT4CART Interview series”