Verizon, Axon Demonstrate Benefits Of 5G Network Slicing To Support Public-safety Video


By Donny Jackson

Verizon and Axon Enterprises this week announced a successful demonstration of 5G network slicing that allowed its network to sustain connectivity performance levels for mission-critical video through Axon Fleet 3 and Axon Respond services.

Network slicing is one of the most-anticipated features of the 5G standard for the critical- communications industry, because it allows a network operator like Verizon to optimize a broadband connection virtually to meet the requirements of an application or device. Characteristics like download data rates, upload data rates, latency and jitter can be optimized to meet the demands of a specific use case when the network has a 5G standalone (5G SA) core, as opposed to the 5G non-standalone core that is more prevalent today.

Verizon’s senior vice president of network technology planning, Adam Koeppe said that the carrier has demonstrated network-slicing functionality in enterprise and consumer-gaming environments, but meeting the performance for public-safety video is especially important.

“In the scenario with Axon, what we’re doing is looking at a specific use case for a public-safety agency, and we don’t have to explain how critical that is,” Koeppe said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications.

“The work with Axon was to take a network slice and program the network basically to say, ‘If Axon’s use case has these requirements—a certain throughput, a certain latency—to ensure a certain quality of that communication, we’re going to programme the network to deliver that for these use cases on these devices.’

“What network slicing allows you to do in that example is to create a path on the network that’s really optimized for the requirements of the specific use case, and that’s what the demonstration showed with Axon.”

Conducted on Verizon’s live 5G network in Phoenix, Axon ran side-by-side tests of its Axon Fleet 3 in-car video system and Axon Respond situational-awareness solution, with the test measuring the performance with and without network slicing, according to a press release about the demonstration.

Compared to Verizon’s commercial 5G Ultra Wideband network, services optimized with network slicing demonstrated a 68 per cent improvement in latency, an 83 per cent improvement in jitter, a 5 per cent improvement in start percent, and a 53 per cent improvement in the 95th percentile of time to the first frame of the video, according to the press release.

Axon’s senior director of product management, Blake Bullock said: “When engaging in a public-safety incident, accurate and timely live streaming and location information is mission critical for enhancing law enforcement’s situational awareness and its ability to make decisions based on real-time, accurate information,” Bullock said in a prepared statement.

“Our work with Verizon’s 5G lower-latency network slice improved streaming-rate success and accelerated time to first frame for our Axon Fleet 3 Respond services under both network-congestion and cell-edge conditions.”

Koeppe said that network slicing can allow carriers significant flexibility to optimize connectivity in a manner that meets the specific requirements of a particular use case, and Verizon is working with its Verizon Frontline users to identify various public-safety use cases.

“If you use the scenario, like we did with Axon, where there’s a downlink throughput, an uplink throughput and a latency required to make a video communication like this work, there are only so many ways—literally and figuratively—that you can slice that,” Koeppe said. “Operators will kind of gravitate to [saying], ‘OK, in this scenario—this video use case, this gaming use case, or whatever—these are the conditions that the network should be able to support.’

“I don’t expect that you’ll see too much difference on that. However, where we’ll differentiate is the ability to provide that consistently and reliably over Verizon’s network.”

Koeppe noted that the physical network capabilities to support network slicing already are in place, but he declined to speculate when public-safety agencies will be able to make network-slicing requests in the field.

“There is more to do there,” he said. “The commercial aspects [of network slicing] for consumers, enterprise and public safety are still a little ways away.”

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