Working Together with 3GPP on 5G

3GPP Meeting June 2017Last week I had the opportunity to participate at the 3GPP plenary meeting in West Palm Beach, Florida, USA, at the invitation of the 3GPP liaison to the IETF, Georg Mayer. In addition to attending meetings of 3GPP’s radio access network group and system architecture group, I had the chance to kick off their new “Wednesday Speaker Club” series with a discussion of how 3GPP and the IETF can cooperate on 5G standardization.

The push towards the next generation of wireless networking technology has been gaining increasing attention and spurring new work across the industry, SDOs, and open source projects. 3GPP participants are investing tremendous effort to define and prioritize 5G requirements to help bring this technology to fruition. They are also working against very tight timelines, with the initial set of 5G standards due to be completed by June 2018. It is therefore both timely and important to identify whether dependencies between 5G and IETF work exist, as well as to identify mechanisms to ensure smooth collaboration.

The IETF and 3GPP have a long history of working together and many successes to build on, including our experience with SIP/IMS, EAP-AKA, and Diameter. Because 5G encompasses a broader swath of folks than those who have been involved in previous joint efforts, I spent part of my time at the meeting introducing how the IETF works, our focus on broadly deployable internet technology, and what we work on. I highlighted some areas of existing IETF work that may be of relevance in the 5G context, including our work on data models, service chaining, deterministic networking, and QUIC (look for more details on these areas in a forthcoming blog post). And I engaged with 3GPP participants around specific strategies to help our two organizations collaborate. You can see my slides here.

The speaker club Q&A session focused on the potential and practicalities of improving collaboration. We talked about the need to have technical experts from each group engage directly with each other (in addition to our existing liaison managers working in both directions), opportunities to provide more introductory presentations in both directions so people not familiar with 5G or specific IETF work can learn more, and ways to identify potential 5G requirements that may yield IETF protocol dependencies early on, even if later analysis in 3GPP reduces the urgency of the need for IETF protocol work.

IETF 99 should serve as a useful opportunity to continue this dialogue and gain more clarity about what specific dependencies we might expect between the 5G plans and IETF work. As noted in my recent post about BOF proposals, we’ll have a slot on the agenda to discuss some of the network slicing work motivated by 5G, in addition to numerous hallway conversations and ad hoc discussions I’m sure. For those working on other aspects of 5G not covered in the BOF proposals and who may be looking for guidance or input about overlaps with IETF work, feel free to reach out to the IAB, the IESG, or our liaison to 3GPP, Gonzalo Camarillo, with questions and comments. Several of us have been working to understand the 5G requirements better and would be happy to hear from you.

Alissa Cooper
IETF Chair