With considerable contributions from the projects 6G BRAINS and 5G-VINNI, the white paper on “Non-Public-Networks – State of the art and way forward”, was published today. Experts from Eurescom, namely Anastasius Gavras, have contributed to this white paper.
Non-public networks (NPNs) push the integration capability of 5G a step further by not only offering the integration of service capabilities specific and tuned towards verticals but building an entire concept of infrastructure provisioning around verticals. This is achieved by extending the architectural alignment of service-based architecture and enterprise service architecture to the capability of provisioning 5G hardware infrastructure, down to base stations in vertical industry sites. The use of private site-specific spectrum, utilized for 5G infrastructure, can be complemented by the possibility to utilize roaming into operators’ wide-area connectivity, if needed for the specific use case. The use of local spectrum disconnects NPNs entirely from previous operator-dependent deployment models. Ultimately, the vertical customer’s extended enterprise service architecture is now realized as a distributed data centre that spans its various sites albeit with the ultra-low latency and service-centric capabilities that are enabled by 5G. This white paper presents the state of the art of NPNs in the 5G and beyond 5G context and provides an outlook on possible evolution paths of this concept.
Feel free to cite this white paper as:  Mahmood, Kashif, Gavras, Anastasius, and Hecker, Artur. “Non-public-networks – State of the Art and Way Forward”. Zenodo, November 17, 2022. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.7230191.
Johannes Gutenberg invented the movable metal-type printing process, Benjamin Franklin invented the lightning rod, and DABUS invented a beverage container. While the first two claims are widely accepted, the third claim has been the cause of a fundamental controversy on who can be an inventor. That is because DABUS is not a human being, but an artificial intelligence machine. And in conventional thinking, a machine cannot be an inventor, only a tool used by a human inventor.
According to the Wikipedia entry for “Inventor”, the matter is clear: “An inventor is a person who creates or discovers new methods, means, or devices for performing a task.” Ryan Abbott, a law professor at University of Surrey, has been challenging this common notion since 2013. He rejects that only a person can be an inventor and claims that an AI machine could be an inventor as well. “We’re moving into a new paradigm where not only do people invent, people build artificial intelligence that can invent,” said Abbott, who authored in 2020 a book with the title “The Reasonable Robot: Artificial Intelligence and the Law.”
The Artificial Intelligence Project
According to Abbott, corporations are unwilling to push the issue of AI inventions, if it means not being able to obtain legal protection for their products. Thus, he set up the Artificial Intelligence Project  and teamed up with Stephen Thaler, founder of Imagination Engines Inc., to build a machine whose main purpose is to invent. The result was DABUS, an AI machine that “invented” not only the aforementioned beverage container, but also a device for attracting enhanced attention. Abbott and a group of volunteering lawyers filed patent applications for these inventions in 17 jurisdictions listing DABUS as the inventor.
The quest of Abbott and his team to put man and machine on an equal footing under international patent law has been overwhelmingly met by a negative response from patent offices all over the world. As of November 2021, the patent application is pending in 11 countries. In the US, Europe, Germany, the UK, and Australia, the patent application has been rejected, and appeals are pending.
The European Patent Office (EPO) and the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO), for example, came to similar conclusions: they denied the patent applications on the grounds that an AI system cannot be listed as an inventor. The European Patent Convention and the UK Patents Act, which were the basis for the respective decisions, both require an inventor to be a named person. The same requirement is valid under the U.S. Patent Act.
The first patent for an AI machine
Despite the rejection by almost all patent offices, Abbott and his team finally had reason to celebrate a victory in July 2021: The Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC), an agency of the South African Department of Trade and Industry, granted a patent to the applicant Stephen L. Thaler and the inventor DABUS for a “Food Container and Devices and Methods for Attracting Enhanced Attention“, with the note: “The invention was autonomously generated by an artificial intelligence” . That has made South Africa the first, and, so far, the only country to grant a patent to an AI inventor. One of the reasons for this result could be that the term “inventor” is not defined in South African patent law.
The distinction between owner
In patent law, there is the distinction between the owner of an invention and the inventor. Depending on the jurisdiction in different countries, this distinction is important. The owner of the patent is usually the one who has the right to exploit it. Nonetheless, at least one name of an inventor has to be provided, otherwise the patent application gets rejected.
And this is exactly where current patent laws fall short, because Thaler did not invent the beverage container, it was DABUS, the AI machine he had built. If he had given his own name as inventor, more patent offices might have accepted his application.
The case of DABUS shows that current intellectual property and patent laws, which usually have been written decades ago, are getting increasingly out of sync with a fast-evolving technology landscape. The expected progress of artificial intelligence in all areas of life should sooner or later lead to a reconsideration of legal concepts regarding inventorship. Who knows, the next breakthrough invention may not be generated by an ingenious scientist of flesh and blood, but rather by an advanced AI machine.
In September and October, the 5G Verticals Innovation Infrastructure project of the 5G PPP, 5G-VINNI, which is funded under the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, presented selected results in a series of online roundtables. Topics included 5G-VINNI’s use cases as well as orchestration and automation of network slicing. The roundtables were organised and produced in collaboration with TelecomTV.
Roundtable about 5G-enabled use cases
On 21st September, TelecomTV published the first of two roundtable videos about 5G innovation for industry verticals. The session sponsored by 5G-VINNI partner Nokia featured two speakers from the project: 5G-VINNI Coordinator Pål Grønsund from Telenor Research and David Kennedy, Director of Eurescom. They discussed, how 5G-VINNI has contributed to unlocking the value of 5G-enabled use cases. Pål Grønsund shared the achievements and lessons learned through the 5G-VINNI project, while David Kennedy presented Eurescom’s perspective on the drivers behind the 5G PPP programme as a European, multi-vendor 5G environment for vertical industry-driven 5G use case trials.
Roundtable about orchestration and automation of network slicing
On 28th September, TelecomTV published the second roundtable video. This roundtable focused on orchestration and automation of network slicing, in particular on how 5G-VINNI has proved how zero-touch digital orchestration can simplify network slicing and lay the foundation for reliable, profitable, industry-specific 5G services.
The session featured two speakers from the project: Deepa Ramachandran, Director Product Management – Digital Operations at Nokia, shared insights into Nokia’s experiences with orchestration and automated network slicing. Dr. Ilangko Balasingham, Professor of Medical Signal Processing and Communications at the Intervention Center of Oslo University Hospital, talked about some of the health-related use cases explored and what they have shown.
On 5th October, an online Q&A session took place, in which anyone interested had the chance to ask questions to the 5G-VINNI speakers from both sessions.
On 21st September, TelecomTV published a roundtable video about 5G innovation for industry verticals. The session sponsored by 5G-VINNI partner Nokia featured two speakers from the project: 5G-VINNI Coordinator Pål Grønsund from Telenor Research and David Kennedy, Director of Eurescom. They discussed, how 5G-VINNI has contributed to unlocking the value of 5G-enabled use cases. Pål Grønsund shared the achievements and lessons learned through the 5G-VINNI project, while David Kennedy presented Eurescom’s perspective on the drivers behind the 5G PPP programme as a European, multi-vendor 5G environment for vertical industry-driven 5G use case trials.
On 5th October, a live online Q&A session took place, in which anyone interested had the chance to ask questions to David Kennedy and the other speakers from both sessions.
Military experts foresee that 5G will play an important role in future military operations, and 5G is today a hot topic in NATO. Ubiquitous connectivity, high bandwidth and low latency opens for many new use cases and military organizations all around the world are today experimenting with 5G and plan to use public 5G networks providing good coverage in combination with military-operated private 5G networks.