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Ericsson raises its low latency game

Swedish kit vendor Ericsson has launched some new software that claims to guarantee consistent low latency for things like VR and remote control.

If anything is considered to be truly novel about 5G it’s low latency. More bandwidth and arguably better IoT support are merely refinements of was is already available but the near-eradication of delay across mobile networks is expected to unlock all kinds of whizzy new use-cases such as mobile-enabled virtual reality and the ability to remotely control things over 5G.

That technological new dawn has been slow to arrive, however, which is what Ericsson is seeking to address with its new Time-Critical Communication software toolbox. The vendor claims it ‘will guarantee the consistent low latency and high reliability demanded by time-critical applications and services,’ according to the press release.

“Ericsson continues to introduce innovative 5G solutions that fuel the global uptake of 5G,” said Per Narvinger, Head of Product Area Networks. “Now we are taking 5G to the next level with Time-Critical Communication, a solution that will give our customers the tools to expand their offerings for the consumer, enterprise, and public sectors and further monetize 5G effectively.”

We were a bit surprised to learn such a thing was necessary after all the hype around 5G and low latency, so we spoke to Marie Hogan, Head of Mobile Broadband Voice & New Business at Ericsson, to seek a bit of clarification. “Current mobile networks including with 5G are built for mobile broadband type of services, optimizing for data rates or high throughputs without any guarantees regarding latency,” explained Hogan.

“In contrast, Time-Critical Communication is designed to secure data delivery within specific latency bounds with the desired reliability. By introducing Time-Critical Communication in 5G Networks, the latency aspect has been prioritized over throughput, which is a fundamental difference when comparing with enhanced mobile broadband, which is best effort only.

“Ericsson has identified six major causes of latency and interruption in mobile networks, which include congestion, radio environment, mobility, standards or protocols, power saving, network topology. Ericsson approaches Time-Critical Communication by addressing these sources of latency and interruptions while efficiently co-existing with enhanced mobile broadband and other services in the network.”

Presumably this software comes into its own during network slicing, when a customer is seeking to prioritize the low latency capabilities of the network over all others. It is, however, an add-on to the broader Ericsson RAN offering that you have to pay extra for, so it’s only available to Ericsson RAN customers.

Ericsson trotted out a few of them to talk about their low latency adventures and, suffice it to say, they all said it’s great. We’re not aware of any equivalent launches from Ericsson’s main competitors, so this could give Ericsson an advantage in this space. Having said that, many of the use-cases, such as mobile VR, are still some way from proving their commercial viability.

It’s obviously a big deal for Ericsson though, they even got the main man to do a vid about it.


2 comments

  1. Avatar Akbar Sayeed 26/10/2021 @ 5:02 pm

    This is interesting and intriguing. Thanks for reporting on it. Low latency is the pink elephant in the room when it comes to 5G and beyond. While all the issues mentioned in the article, like congestion and mobility are a factor, the biggest seems to be the networking protocols (“standards and protocols”) in the list. And there is far too much momentum behind TCP/IP to alter it in any major way. So, I am looking forward to how this pans out. We need it.

  2. Avatar David Chapman 02/11/2021 @ 5:54 pm

    I am glad low latency is getting attention- but software can only do so much when backhaul is the largest and most costly component.

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