Interworking for 5G networks and digital twins were two key work items for oneM2M standardization during TP62.


January 2024 - In this interview, Roland Hechwartner summarizes the latest developments from oneM2M’s recent Technical Plenary #62. Roland is the Chair for oneM2M’s Technical Plenary (TP) and responsible for the coordination of the overall management of the technical work within the TP and its Working Groups (WGs). He is a representative of Deutsche Telekom (DT).

Q: Would you begin with an overview of the key developments at TP62?

RH: TP62 was hosted by the Association of Radio Industries and Businesses (ARIB) and the Telecommunication Technology Committee (TTC), oneM2M’s founding Partners in Japan, and held at TTC’s Tokyo offices in Tokyo over the period 4 to 8 December 2023. 

During the week, we held a oneM2M Industry Day which is one of our open events where we discuss wider industry topics and delve into oneM2M’s roadmap and deployment experiences for a wider industry audience. This was a complementary event, held in person and online on 6 December with organizational support from ARIB and TTC.

We made further progress on the newly formed Academic Relations Group and held discussions over some new work items dealing with Digital Twins and oneM2M’s interworking capability with 3GPP standards.

Q: Before we come onto TP developments, what was on the Industry Day agenda?  

RH: The event began with opening remarks from Seiji Nishioka, Executive Director at ARIB and me before proceeding to three segments. The first of these, which addressed oneM2M features and benefits, comprised presentations from Professor JaeSeung Song, TP Vice-Chair (Sejong University), Andreas Neubacher (Deutsche Telekom), Bob Flynn, TDE Chair (Exacta) and Massimo Vanetti RDM Chair and representative of the EU’s Small Business Standards (SBS) body.

The next segment focused on oneM2M Adoption & Deployments. There were presentations from Andreas Kraft (Deutsche Telekom), Miguel Angel Reina Ortega (ETSI), Rana Kamill (British Telecom), Poornima Shandilya (C-DOT, India) and Professor JaeSeung Song, TP VC (Sejong University).

We closed the session with the third segment which took the form of a panel discussion on “oneM2M as an Interoperability Framework” before closing the day with a Q&A session. 

In addition to the in-person attendees, we had about 90 online attendees. One of the key conclusions from the Industry Day discussions was to affirm oneM2M as an Interoperability Framework that goes beyond the “connectivity layer”. Moreover, oneM2M’s common service functions (CSFs) enable the exchange of information, as distinct from merely IoT data, among multiple entities, that may include external systems, by taking advantage of semantics principles.

Q: What progress do you have to report about the Academic Relations Group?

There was agreement on a revised version of the Terms of References for the newly founded ACR (Academia Relations Group), as introduced by Professor Luigi Liquori. He is one of three Convenors of the adHoc group:

  • Professor Luigi Liquori, Inria volunteered to act as the convenor from Europe.
  • Professor Kwanghyun Ro, Hansung University volunteered to act as the convenor from Korea.
  • Professor Kyusun Choi, Penn State University volunteered to act as the convenor from North America.

In early 2024, we will hold a web-meeting to commence the discussion amongst the universities and establish a plan of action for 2024.

Q: In industry discussions, it seems that Digital Twins are viewed as an integral part of IoT systems. What is the new oneM2M work item you mentioned on this topic?

RH: Before I get to the work item, I think it is important to note that the idea of a digital twin has always been a part of the oneM2M philosophy and something that is central to the standard. In oneM2M terminology, we have the concept of a Resource Tree which is a representation of the different elements in an IoT system, obviously customized for each given deployment. With new requirements emerging, there are many reasons to enhance this basic capability, and this is one motivation for the new work item.

The new work item, on Digital Twins enablement, is supported by SBS, Telecom Italia Mobile, Exacta Global Smart Solutions, and Sejong University. The scope of this work item is to capture new requirements that are needed to support Digital Twins in oneM2M and where needed, to define appropriate mappings and/or extensions to existing specifications to satisfy said requirements.

This work item also showcases an example where oneM2M is in collaboration with one of our Partners or other Standards Development Organizations (SDOs). In this case, ETSI has created a Specialist Task Force (STF 628) to investigate requirements and standards for Digital Twins. The main objective is to cover the missing key elements of modelling and making uniform the communication concept of IoT Digital Twins and their blueprint communication reference architecture.

The main tasks of this STF are to:

  • Identify use cases and deployments where IoT Digital Twins can be effectively adopted. These Digital Twins use cases are analyzed to identify requirements and guidelines needed to define their functionalities.
  • Derive requirements and guidelines that address horizontal and cross-domain interoperability with the specification of a minimum set of requirements for usability of Digital Twins in the context of professional and public IoT services.
  • Outline a mapping between these use cases, requirements, and guidelines for IoT Digital Twins and the oneM2M framework to show how they can be implemented in oneM2M. Among the requirements that are identified, those that cannot to be implemented in oneM2M or are complex to implement in oneM2M will be highlighted.

The activities under this Work Item in oneM2M will consist of:

  • Sharing the outcomes and results of STF 628 to oneM2M technical plenary
  • Soliciting feedback from the oneM2M community to further augment and refine the findings from STF 628
  • Involving the wider oneM2M community with the intent of developing contributions to augment and refine the findings from STF 628, including development of requirements in oneM2M and solutions

There is a lot more detail about this work at the STF 628 portal.

Q: The other work item highlights the important and complementary nature of interworking 3GPP and oneM2M standards. Would you summarize this work item for our readers?

RH: The formal title of this work item is “3GPP interworking via NEF N33 API”. The work item was suggested by SyncTechno Inc. (Korea) and is supported by Deutsche Telekom, Exacta, Sejong University and Telecom Italia. It aims to develop an interworking capability between the oneM2M Service Layer and 3GPP’s NEF N33 Northbound API which is a part of 3GPP Rel-17.

To put this new work into context, it is worth remembering that oneM2M specified an interworking architecture with 3GPP mobile networks as part of oneM2M Releases 3 and 4. In effect, this enabled oneM2M to utilize Cellular IoT features developed by 3GPP. This architecture was based on 3GPP Rel-13, Rel-14, and Rel-15, where interworking makes use of the Service Capability Exposure Function (SCEF) Northbound API. SCEF is a network entity of the 4th generation 3GPP core network called Evolved Packet Core (EPC).

Since 3GPP Rel-15, 3GPP has been standardizing the 5th generation mobile network, the 5G System. The core network of the 5G System is called 5G Core (5GC). The architecture of the 5GC has undergone significant improvements compared to EPC. In one of the changes, the SCEF network entity has evolved into the Network Exposure Function (NEF). The NEF has largely inherited the functionality from SCEF but also new services exclusive to NEF were added. The NEF services are exposed to external applications via the N33 reference point, and the NEF N33 Northbound API is described in the 3GPP TS 29.522. The latest completed release version of TS 29.522 is Rel-17.

To expose services to 3rd party application servers such as the oneM2M CSE, mobile network operators deploy SCEF or NEF depending on whether their infrastructure works on EPC or 5GC. Interworking with NEF is currently lacking in oneM2M specifications. To support 3GPP interworking regardless of whether EPC or 5GC is employed by a mobile network operator, there is a need to upgrade oneM2M specifications to support 3GPP interworking via NEF N33 Northbound API, hence the need for this new work item.

The oneM2M Technical Specification on 3GPP Interworking (TS-0026) is the main target for enhancements and new features to support the NEF API in the oneM2M release 5. In addition, changes to the functional architecture specification (TS-0001), the security solutions specification (TS-0003), and the Service Layer Core Protocol specification (TS-0004) may be needed for alignment purposes. The finalization of the oneM2M release 5 is currently scheduled for early 2025.

Q: Let us come to the activities of the TP Working Groups (WGs). What were the highlights in each of those?

RH: Beginning with the Requirements and Domain Modelling (RDM) working group, the focus continues to be on Release 5 use cases and requirements. You may recall that these will subsequently be converted into architectural and protocol aspects by the System Design & Security (SDS) working group.

Peter Niblett (IBM) chairs this group which continues to make progress on Release 5 versions of the oneM2M technical specifications. Among these, stage 2 of AI enablement (TR-0071) has progressed and the WG agreed on AI/ML model management capability. This TR provides a summary of identified AI/ML-related requirements at Stage 1. It then investigates potential architectural solutions to support these identified AI/ML requirements. Based on the findings of this technical report, participating members will propose new features to enable AI/ML in the oneM2M system.

Lastly, the Testing & Developers Ecosystem (TDE) WG sessions were chaired by Bob Flynn (Exacta). Their focus was on the conversion to markdown of existing documents, so that these can be developed via the GitLab tool. Continuous improvement of the converter tool is being made as well as improvement of the scripts to generate CRs. The WG also discussed the Liaison statement to the Global Certification Forum (GCF) regarding expected market adoption of oneM2M releases, for better planning of the test environment.

Q: In closing, what are the plans for the next TPs?

RH: Our next event, TP63 will be hosted by Germany’s Federal Network Agency (BNetzA). This will be held in Mainz, Germany and structured as a hybrid event from 26 February to 1 March 2024.