Industry Specification Group (ISG) Fifth Generation Fixed Network (F5G) Activity Report 2021

Chair: Luca Pesando, Telecom Italia

Studying the evolution of the fixed network needed to match and further enhance the benefits that 5G has brought to mobile networks and to communications; defining improvements with respect to previous solutions and new characteristics of what represents the 5th generation fixed network.

We are entering a new era of communications where the evolution of fixed networks will play a vital role in the success of 5G and future mobile systems. Building on previous technology iterations, this ‘fifth generation’ of fixed networks will target three main goals of delivering full-fibre connection, enhanced fixed broadband and a secure, low-latency, reliable experience in both industrial and consumer applications.

Fibre and fibre-based optical networks are the key technical enablers of our society's twin transitions (green and digital), providing sustainable and cost-effective communications with high bandwidth, stability, reliability, and improved latency. In addition, fibre’s evolution enables sustainable economic growth through advanced services and applications for individuals, businesses, and industries.

For home scenarios, emerging services such as Cloud VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) video streaming or online gaming introduce the necessity for ultra-broadband, extremely low latency and zero packet loss. Business scenarios such as enterprise cloudification, leased line, or POL (Passive Optical LAN) require high reliability and high security. Industrial applications have specific requirements on the deployment of fibre infrastructures, including tolerance for extreme environmental conditions related – for example – to humidity, temperature, or electromagnetic interference.

Our Industry Specification Group dedicated to specifying the fifth generation of Fixed Network (ISG F5G) aims to study the fixed network evolution required to match and enhance the benefits that 5G has brought to mobile networks and communications. Its goal is to define improvements with respect to previous solutions, opening up new opportunities by applying fibre technology to various scenarios and turning the ‘Fibre to the Home’ paradigm into ‘Fibre to Everything Everywhere’.

Published in February 2021, Group Report GR F5G 002 represents an initial release of use cases for the 5th generation fixed network, considering both consumers and enterprise organizations.

In September F5G ISG published Group Specification GS F5G 003, titled ‘F5G Technology Landscape’ that explores technical requirements, existing standards and gaps for a number of new use cases for home, enterprise and industrial needs. Representing a cornerstone in the group’s work, this GS forms the basis for future F5G standards on architecture, end to end management, security and other aspects related to specific applications of fibre optics based broadband.

Published in June, GS F5G 009 specifies a framework to coordinate public demonstrations of Proof of Concepts (PoC) to validate key technical components developed within ISG F5G. It is accompanied by a dedicated page on the ETSI website that offers an introduction to the F5G PoC Framework and related resources, including templates for PoC proposals and PoC reports.

A number of further Group Specifications and Group Reports are currently in development, with three deliverables approved by the ISG and in their final editorial review phase for publication. These are: the Architecture specification, setting the first overall architecture for F5G, enabling the services defined in the Use Cases by implementing the requirements identified in GS F5G 003; a specification exploring end-to-end quality of experience (QoE) factors for demanding F5G services such as 8K video, interactive gaming and VR/AR; and a security threat vulnerability risk analysis report. With these documents ISG F5G has completed its suite of Release 1 specifications in two years.

Other work in progress addresses: end-to-end management and control of F5G networks; a specification of countermeasure for security threats as a follow-up of the analysis report; a collection of use cases/requirements for PON (Passive Optical Networks) in industrial applications; second release of F5G use cases; a telemetry framework and requirements for access F5G networks; and a further release of a technology landscaping document.

See the full list of current ISG F5G Work Items here.

July 2021 marked publication of ETSI White Paper #47, titled ‘Fibre Development Index: Driving a Gigabit Society’. The second White Paper developed with contribution from ISG F5G members, it explains the methodology used to define a fibre development index. The paper also provides migration path recommendations to countries with different levels of fibre development, and highlights the importance of setting policies to underpin twin (green and digital) transformation.

Since the group’s formation at the end of 2019 more than 75 new members and participants have joined the 10 founding members of ISG F5G. This brings participation to over 85 stakeholders including tier-one operators and manufacturers.

During 2021 officers and members of ISG F5G participated in over 20 conferences and industry events.

ISG F5G continues to liaise with other standardization, technical and industry bodies including ITU-T, BBF, IEEE, IETF, WFA, TM Forum, IEC and ISO.