How time-sensitive networking (TSN) is enabling new 5G use cases for industry

TSN (Time-Sensitive Networking) is gaining momentum as a scalable, standards-based solution for deterministic time-sensitive applications, including industrial automation, real time audio and video transmission automotive networks, and safety critical applications. TSN capable networks will be able to manage automated operations while reacting to inputs from multiple sources in real time, creating highly transparent, digitally observable systems. Time-sensitive data can enable enhanced AI decision-making, greater efficiency, and expanding customization capabilities. That kind of potential shouldn’t be tied down—many applications would benefit greatly from the flexibility and physical freedom of wireless connectivity. 

“We can derive a reasonable prediction of which TSN capabilities and applications will be initially supported over wireless.”

Dave Cavalcanti, Intel.

Fortunately, analysis from multiple independent industry stakeholders has concluded that TSN can be extended over wireless segments. The Avnu Alliance, 5G-ACIA, Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) and others have taken a close look at current TSN, Wi-Fi, and 5G capabilities. They’ve also collected data about projected use cases and market requirements. From this information, we can derive a reasonable prediction of which TSN capabilities and applications will be initially supported over wireless. We also have enough information about how wireless segments will be integrated into TSN domains and managed to begin planning for this future.

 TSN domains 

TSN applications require significant reserved bandwidth to ensure guaranteed data delivery. Though time-sensitive data can coexist with other data on a Local Area Network, in reality, it’s likely to be impractical in most cases for an entire enterprise network to be TSN-capable. More likely, the time-sensitive applications will reside within a TSN domain, a protected subset of the network wherein all devices are TSN-capable. We can assume the same will hold for WTSN (Wireless Time-Sensitive Networking) segments: they will be supported throughout the extension of the TSN domain from wired to wireless medium. 

Figure: Examples of CUC and CNC Wired and Wireless TSN domains.

 Figure: Examples of CUC and CNC Wired and Wireless TSN domains. (Image credit: Intel.)

“As WTSN applications emerge, they will primarily be segments of a larger TSN domain with both wired and wireless links.”

Dave Cavalcanti, Intel.
Networking