An overview of physical layer design for ultra-reliable low-latency communications in 3GPP releases 15, 16, and 17

Le, Trung-Kien; Salim, Umer; Kaltenberger, Florian
IEEE Access, Vol.9, 23 December 2020

Ultra-reliable low-latency communication (URLLC) has been introduced in 5G new radio for new applications that have strict reliability and latency requirements such as augmented/virtual reality, industrial automation and autonomous vehicles. The first full set of the physical layer design of 5G release, Release 15, was finalized in December 2017. It provided a foundation for URLLC with new features such as flexible sub-carrier spacing, a sub-slot-based transmission scheme, new channel quality indicator, new modulation and coding scheme tables, and configured-grant transmission with automatic repetitions. The second 5G release, Release 16, was finalized in December 2019 and allows achieving improved metrics for latency and reliability to support new use cases of URLLC. A number of new features such as enhanced physical downlink (DL) control channel monitoring capability, new DL control information format, sub-slot physical uplink (UL) control channel transmission, sub-slot-based physical UL shared channel repetition, enhanced mobile broadband and URLLC inter-user-equipment multiplexing with cancellation indication and enhanced power control were standardized. This article provides a detailed overview of the URLLC features from 5G Release 15 to Release 16 by describing how these features allow meeting URLLC target requirements in 5G networks. The ongoing Release 17 targets further enhanced URLLC operation by improving mechanisms such as feedback, intra-user-equipment multiplexing and prioritization of traffic with different priority, support of time synchronization and new quality of service related parameters. In addition, a fundamental feature targeted in URLLC Release 17 is to enable URLLC operation over shared unlicensed spectrum. The potential directions of URLLC research in unlicensed spectrum in Release 17 are presented to serve as a bridge from URLLC in licensed spectrum in Release 16 to URLLC in unlicensed spectrum in Release 17.

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