January 28, 2021

Integration of 5G with Time-Sensitive Networking for Industrial Communications

Fifth-generation wireless communications (5G) and time-sensitive networking (TSN) technologies are key to future industrial communications: 5G for wireless connectivity and TSN for wired connectivity. Both technologies have been designed to provide converged communication for a wide range of services on a common network infrastructure, including for time-sensitive applications that require deterministic, reliable and low-latency communications. Significant benefits can be achieved for corresponding industrial use cases by introducing TSN and 5G wireless communication, e.g., increased flexibility in the deployment of industrial equipment and the network.

This paper identifies the requirements of these applications, and describes the functional capabilities needed to seamlessly integrate 5G with TSN. The paper also provides brief overviews of the 5G and TSN functions needed to support time-sensitive applications. 3GPP specified 5G support for TSN in Release 16, with further enhancements in Release 17, to allow seamless integration of a 5G system (5GS) with TSN networks. In integrated networks of this type, a 5G system will simply be perceived as IEEE-compliant virtual Ethernet-TSN bridges. 

This white paper describes and examines integration of 5G with TSN for typical industrial use cases, namely controller-to-controller, controller-to-device and device-to-compute communications. The paper shows that 5G, as specified in Release 16 and 17, provides all functionality needed for integration with TSN for industrial automation.