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Here’s how open APIs ensure 5G’s super-performance in IoT

Today’s IoT is just a start

We are already surrounded by many helpful and innovative IoT solutions - smart cities enhance our lives and keep us safe, smart meters help us control energy, while smart buildings improve efficiency and cut costs.

Today’s IoT devices connected by cellular mainly use 3G and LTE. 5G will open many new IoT possibilities.

Let’s take as an example a robotic manufacturing line. Every millisecond will count, as the robot line’s movements will need to be measured rapidly and the results fed back instantly to the controller for real-time processing.

Opening 5G networks to the world

The heart of this automated production line is the controlling software. Connected to the IoT platform, the control software submits requests and queries and receives huge amounts of data from IoT devices through Open APIs. Enabling these APIs to access the network services they need requires a network exposure platform. Today’s 3G and 4G IoT API exposure platform SCEF (Service Capability Exposure Function) can handle massive amounts of IoT devices, but the use cases remain within the 3G, 4G latency boundaries.

For operator IoT services, only 5G can achieve the ultra-low latency and super-high reliability needed for our robotic manufacturing use case, with end-to-end network slicing dedicating connectivity for the line’s exclusive use. So, a 5G Network Exposure Function (NEF) is needed to provide secure and fast access to IoT control and management APIs in a single, robust dedicated API gateway. The response time of API requests are critical for Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communication (URLLC) IoT use cases like robotic assembly, so the 5G NEF platform must provide superb performance.

To provide a seamless upgrade path for operators, Nokia has bundled SCEF into its 5G NEF functionality, allowing operators to evolve easily from 4G API exposure to 5G exposure when the need arises.

There is also a unique benefit of the Nokia NEF that comes into play once 5G end-to-end network slicing is available in an operator’s network.

Dedicating 5G exposure to one IoT service

The robot production line has tight latency and availability requirements, ones that can readily be met by a network slice. The slice has a dedicated NEF, which only accepts API requests from the line’s IoT control software - any other application’s query will be denied.

The 5G core network may receive many requests to its master-NEF from many different applications for use cases. These may apply to the whole network, but the slice-specific NEF will not be affected, thus maintaining its high performance at all times. If the master-NEF is overloaded for any reason, the slice-specific NEF remains functional.

This boosts the security of the service - other applications cannot access the slice related APIs. Similarly, API response time is improved, since the gateway is dedicated only to its own use case.

Because of this, slice-specific network exposure will be an important capability that operators can use to support many new IoT use cases and win new revenue.

The future ecosystem of IoTs

5G end-to-end network slicing promises to be a powerful catalyst for new use cases and 5G network exposure fits this concept with slice-specific NEFs. 5G programmable networks will become a fundamental platform for high-productivity automated manufacturing that can achieve higher efficiency and better-quality products. With its 5G API exposure platform, Nokia is providing a vital part of the value chain of manufacturers, system integrators, third party cloud application developers that is building the telco API-based open ecosystem.

For more insight about Nokia 5G API exposure please download our whitepaper.

Share your thoughts on this topic by joining the Twitter discussion with @nokia or @nokianetworks using #5G #cloud #IoT # IoTsecurity #API #NEF #core 

Zoltan Varnai

About Zoltan Varnai

Zoltan Varnai works in the Nokia Software Core marketing team. His professional passion is marketing of the core network with a special focus on 5G core programming capabilities. His personal passion is drumming – giving bands clock-like pace.

Tweet me at @VarnaiZoltan

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