W3C Workshop on Web5G:
Aligning evolutions of network and Web technologies

May 10-11 2018, London, UK

James Padolsey


The workshop report is available.

The minutes of day 1 and minutes of day 2 of the workshop are available.

The slides presented during the workshop are linked from the minutes and from the agenda.

The position papers submitted to the workshop are also available.

What was the purpose of this workshop?

The primary goal of the workshop was to bring together telecommunications operators, network equipment providers, content delivery networks, browser vendors, and application developers to evaluate and prepare for the impact of 5G and other network-layer technologies on Web standards.

The workshop covered 5G New Radio (5G-NR), new network topologies resulting from the split of session control from mobility management, and the increasing importance of Network Function Virtualisation, Software Defined Networks and Multi-Access Edge Computing. It aimed to cut through the 5G hype and instead address what is new in 5G, what was going to happen anyway and where new opportunities lie, putting acronyms and ‘G’s’ to one side.

Why the Web is critical to 5G deployment?

Fifth generation networks (5G) are intended provide higher bandwidth, lower latency and better coverage than today’s 4G networks. Improvements to both the physical network and its control plane are expected to make the network more reactive, flexible, and with better performances, and enable better cooperation among its end points.

In setting the direction for 5G, the ITU envisioned ambitious use cases. But while network capabilities are necessary to their realization, the application layer must also be up to the task. Equally the changes in 5G architecture offer the potential for the application layer to interface directly into policy and control functions in the 5G network.

There are many application platforms to choose from, but the most ubiquitous and scalable is the Open Web Platform — the collection of technologies that enables the Web. The Web plays a predominant role in the distribution of content and services: there are a billion Web sites, most connected devices feature browsers, and software developers identify as “Web developers” far more often than other roles.

Why 5G matters to the Web?

A number of recent advances in Web technology have led to significant increases in network traffic, underlining why it is so important to consider the evolution of the Web and network in tandem. Users will appreciate 5G improvements for network-hungry applications, including:

Real-time audio and video
The Web Real-Time Communications (WebRTC) protocol enables real-time video and audio in both browsers and native mobile applications, without plug-ins. Analysts predict that 2 billion people will be making use of this technology by 2019 , revolutionizing telecommunications.
In the past few years, video consumption has led to dramatic increases in network traffic, accelerated by the adoption of the HTML5 Web standard. It is easy to imagine the demand skyrocketing as the Web expands to accommodate UHD, HDR, and 360° videos.
Virtual Reality
Though not yet common, there is a lot of excitement about adding immersive virtual reality experiences to the Web for commerce, communication, entertainment, and much more. A WebVR API would make virtual reality a first class citizen of the Web.
Web of Things
The Internet had existed for years when the Web was invented in 1989, but it took the harmonized application platform of the Web to usher in the Internet economy. W3C holds a similar view of the “Web of Things” as a uniform application layer that will make it much easier to develop Internet of Things applications that leverage 5G’s low latency and wide coverage.
Connectivity is driving automotive industry interest in platform enhancements for in-vehicle, inter-vehicle, and vehicle-to-infrastructure services. APIs from W3C that provide access to external sensors will benefit from 5G’s low latency.
QUIC and protocol innovation
With QUIC expected to bring new performance characteristics to HTTP, and with ongoing discussions to bring QUIC as a primitive in the Web Platform, plenty of network innovation and exploration can be expected via browsers in the years to come.

Although different industries emphasize different use cases, in many cases the required capabilities are common to multiple industries. W3C’s diverse, international community of stakeholders helps build the Web for converging requirements across industries.

Furthermore, many of the expected network evolutions require interactions between the networking and application layer that be at odd with the security and privacy architecture of the Web: it is thus critical that these inconsistencies be understood, mapped, and if possible, corrected.

What is needed to make the Web 5G ready?

For many years, the telecommunications industry and other stakeholders at W3C have sought to improve integration of the network protocol layer with Web applications, to improve monitoring of network performance, control of network transport characteristics, and discovery of and interaction with of network services.

We expect that 5G-enabled applications (e.g., automotive, e-health, augmented reality) will require even more fine-grain network customization. We also expect that as more and more network traffic is encrypted, approaches to optimization based on monitoring will lose their effectiveness. These changes call for a more ambitious evolution of the Open Web Platform architecture to address the needs of 5G.

To ensure that Web improvements for 5G applications scale globally, a flexible architecture ready for customization around monitoring, control and service discovery is likely needed.

Examples of network/application integration

A number of recent projects have adopted similar approaches to brokering, suggesting such a “Web5G” architecture can be achieved:

Are there lessons from these examples and others that could be usefully generalized to bring greater beneficial integration between networks and the apps they support?

What is W3C?

W3C is a voluntary standards consortium that convenes companies and communities to help structure productive discussions around existing and emerging technologies, and offers a Royalty-Free patent framework for Web Recommendations. We focus primarily on client-side (browser) technologies, and also have a mature history of vocabulary (or “ontology”) development. W3C develops work based on the priorities of our members and our community.


Program Committee