Local Area Network (LAN) support in 5G Rel-16 is a pivotal feature that enables a 5G network to act as a private or localized wireless network within a confined area. Unlike traditional LANs, which are confined to physical cables and wired connections, 5G LAN support provides the same networking capabilities wirelessly. This means that industries can create their own localized 5G networks tailored to their specific needs, enhancing connectivity, control, and efficiency across various use-cases.

Benefits of 5G LAN Support for Industrial Use-Cases

  1. Enhanced Industrial Automation: 5G LAN support plays a critical role in industrial automation by offering reliable, low-latency connectivity between machines, robots, and control systems. In manufacturing, for example, robots can be wirelessly connected to a central control unit, enabling real-time monitoring and precise coordination. Rel-16’s LAN support ensures that these connections are robust, secure, and interference-free.
  2. Smart Factories: The concept of smart factories relies heavily on seamless connectivity and communication between various components. 5G LAN support facilitates the integration of Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) devices, sensors, and machinery within a factory environment. This leads to improved asset tracking, predictive maintenance, and overall operational efficiency.
  3. Remote Operations and Maintenance: Industries often have remote or geographically distributed facilities. LAN support in 5G Rel-16 enables remote monitoring, control, and maintenance of critical equipment and processes. Engineers and technicians can access real-time data, diagnose issues, and even perform maintenance tasks remotely, reducing downtime and associated costs.
  4. Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR): AR and VR technologies have gained traction in industrial training, design, and maintenance. With 5G LAN support, these immersive technologies can be seamlessly integrated into industrial workflows. High-resolution video streaming and interactive experiences become feasible, enabling better training simulations, remote assistance, and collaborative design reviews.
  5. Logistics and Warehousing: LAN support in 5G Rel-16 benefits logistics and warehousing operations by enabling real-time tracking of goods, autonomous vehicles, and inventory management systems. This leads to optimized routes, reduced delays, and efficient resource allocation.
  6. Energy Management and Utilities: LAN support is instrumental in enabling smart grid applications and intelligent energy management. Utilities can deploy sensors and monitoring devices across their infrastructure to gather real-time data, detect anomalies, and ensure efficient distribution of resources.

One scenario tested in R15 is shown below. The end devices require layer 2 connectivity to communicate with each other. This was solved by building L2TP VPN between the two nodes. This should not be required in R16, using 5G LAN Support.

High level 5G topology showing a layer 2 tunnel required prior to 5G LAN.

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