David Leveque
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5G Makes Wireless Time Sensitive Networking a Reality

July 1, 2020
New industry work group explores ways to help manufacturers make the most of 5G enabled wireless time sensitive networking capabilities.

Recent advances in 5G and IEEE 802.11 wireless connectivity technologies to provide low-latency and high reliability communications continue to generate significant industry interest in extending time sensitive networking (TSN) capabilities over wireless. As TSN-enabled devices and networks continue to extend across verticals opening the door to similar capabilities over wireless is a natural next step.

“For manufacturers of end-devices and systems across IIoT and other market verticals, there are numerous benefits of implementing Ethernet-based time sensitive networking (TSN) as a technology – a few being TSN’s low bounded latency and high reliability,” Dave Cavalcanti, principal engineer at Intel and chair of the Avnu Alliance Wireless TSN. The Avnu Alliance is an industry consortium driving open, standards-based deterministic networking.

Cavalcanti tells IndustryWeek, manufacturers should be excited about the flexibility and reduced wiring costs as the next generation of wireless mobility becomes a reality. “TSN capabilities over wireless can enable manufacturers to easily reconfigure industrial automation and control systems as well as enable optimized routing and utilization of mobile robots and automatic guided vehicles,” he says.

Fortunately, the industry is well on its way to making TSN capabilities over wireless a reality. “Although most of the TSN standards and solutions developed so far are based on Ethernet, some of the fundamental TSN capabilities, such as 802.1AS-based time distribution, have already been extended to operate over 802.11/Wi-Fi and integration with 5G standards have also been developed,” he says. “Existing wireless capabilities can support proof of concepts in the area of time synchronization and time-aware scheduling over wired and wireless domains. Proof of concepts and testbeds are key to better understand the wireless applications and challenges in realistic industrial environments.”

Of course, more work is needed to bring wireless TSN capabilities to market, explains Cavalcanti. For instance, wireless specific TSN configuration interfaces, parameters and test procedures still require further development. This situation was also the driving force behind creating the Wireless TSN working group within Avnu Alliance.

“The WTSN workgroup work has highlighted that it is important to start early discussions and alignment on topics such as consistent TSN interfaces for wired and wireless technologies, interoperability testing, and certification efforts,” he says. “These and other ecosystem activities will need to be addressed to provide consistent TSN services across wired and wireless physical layers that address real user needs across industries.”