Late in December 3GPP completed work on the first version of Release 15 of the 5G New Radio (NR) specification. Originally planned for release in June 2018, the standards body agreed to speed up its work to accommodate demand for increased cellular data capacity, particularly for the Olympic Games in South Korea in February. About 450 people worked on the spec, contributing hundreds of hours to its development.
AT&T announced in January that because of 3GPP’s accelerated release it will introduce 5G service in a dozen markets by late 2018.
With these specifications now available, hardware, chipset and device manufacturers can start development. This allows us to provide mobile 5G services sooner. We’re confident this latest standards milestone will allow us to bring 5G to market faster without compromising its long-term vision.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is standardizing 5G as part of its IMT [International Mobile Telecommunication system] for 2020 and beyond initiative, with specifications from 3GPP and contributions from other standards bodies like ETSI and NGMN. Specifically, standards are being developed for new radio interfaces and a next-generation (NG) mobile core. These are being delivered in two phases, the first focusing on specs for enhanced mobile broadband and the second adding capabilities for advanced services like ultra-reliable, low-latency communications (uRLLC) and massive machine type communications (mMTC).
The first step
The initial Release 15 is for a non-stand- alone NR spec.
“We’ve released the non stand-alone 3GPP specifications, which means that you need an LTE anchor and besides the LTE anchor you have a 5G-NR cell,” Nokia’s Balázs Bertényi, RAN Chairman, 3GPP, told TelecomTV. “You basically do your control plane and control plane communications through LTE and boost the user data capacity with 5G NR and the new radio technology.”
The full release in June will encompass the so-called stand-alone system so that we will not have to rely on the LTE anymore for control plane communications, and it will have full control plane support for the new 5G radio.
Nokia’s Balázs Bertényi, RAN Chairman, 3GPP, told TelecomTV
Paving the way
This release lays the foundation for advanced 5G concepts like network slicing.
“This is the really deeper significance of the work we’re doing, not the specific features we deliver now but the fact that as we continue, both NR and the 5G core network are going to expand on the basis of the foundation we’ve provided in the last year of intense work,” says Samsung Electronics’ Erik Guttman, System Aspects Chairman, 3GPP.