ETSI proposes non-IP packet technology for telecoms

April 06, 2021 // By Nick Flaherty
ETSI proposes non-IP packet technology for telecoms
European standards agency ETSI has published three reports on the problems with TCP/IP packets for telecoms systems and possible alternatives

The Internet as we know it is fundamentally based on TCP/IP networking. The IPv4 and IPv6 packet structure dominated the zetabits of data that move across all kinds of networks. However there are problems for telecoms networks that want to deliver quality of service and streaming services using TCP/IP.  

The ETSI Non-IP Networking group (ISG NIN) has just released its first three Group Reports on alternatives for TCP/IP. The first report, GR NIN 001, details the shortcomings of TCP/IP for fixed and mobile networks; the second, GR NIN 002, considers testing Non-IP Networking over 5G cellular Radio Access Networks; and GR NIN 003 describes the networking model that is the foundation for the new technology.

“Finding new networking protocols more suitable to the 5G era was essential. These reports set the scene for standardization of technology that meets the requirements of mission-critical systems such as industrial control, intelligent vehicles, sound reinforcement for live events, and remote medicine,” said John Grant, Chair of ISG NIN.

The first ETSI report describes the challenges of IP-based networking for fixed and mobile networks and ways in which new network protocols can result in improved performance and more efficient operation. Topics covered include efficient use of the cellular radio spectrum, naming and addressing (including addressing lifecycle), Quality of Service (QoS) and time-sensitive traffic, security, network management, efficient forwarding, and migration.

Implementing Non-IP networking over 3GPP cellular access recommends approaches to test Non-IP Networking (NIN) using mobile radio access. This includes existing mechanisms specified by 3GPP for both LTE and 5G Radio Access Networks, as well as guidance on enabling a non-IP protocol stack directly atop the 3GPP PHY (physical) radio layer. The Report suggests test scenarios appropriate to proof-of-concept testing for low-power IoT devices, for video and audio services, and for tactile feedback in applications such as remote surgery.

Most packets are not an isolated event but are part of a flow, for example a TCP, QUIC, etc., session or


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