5G industry news Telecommunications Topic | Standards

5G and 6G Standards-Do you need to be involved?

  • 5 minute read
  • Published by Crispin Moller on 1 Dec 2022
  • Last modified 28 Nov 2022
The industry body setting global standards for 5G (and probably for 6G as well) is the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP).

This was founded by ETSI following their successful development of standards for GSM (2nd Generation mobile). It includes 6 other regional telecoms standards organisations including ATIS (US), TTA (Korea), TTC (Japan), CCSA (China) and TDSI (India) and so can be considered truly global. The 3GPP administrative support team, known as the Mobile Competence Centre, is run by ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) based at the Sophia Antipolis technology park in South East France.

3GPP is currently holding most of its meetings online although plans are being made for a European face-to-face meeting in 2022. Companies can participate in 3GPP meetings by joining one of the 7 regional standards organisations. However, an advantage of joining via ETSI is that it gives you access to a full range of Telecommunications Standards activities including topics such as point-to-point radio systems for cellular back-haul.

The standards for 5G are strongly influenced by the larger ‘incumbent’ vendors and service providers which have established global markets. The vendors want global standards to ensure that their equipment can be used in any network worldwide, and the operators want global standards to ensure interoperability of services and to reduce the costs of purchasing equipment through commoditisation.

Is there a place in 5G and 6G standards for the majority of CW members who may be SMEs or are from university department? The costs of engaging a member of staff who may spend a large part of their time on standards needs to be weighed carefully but can reap rewards by ensuring a global market for their equipment or through the exploitation of patents.

If you have a new idea or a patent in the 5G/6G area, you may want to increase its visibility and value by participating in standards development with the intention of gaining financial support to develop the idea further or to sell the patent to a larger group. If the patent is ‘essential’ for the implementation of a standard (a Standards Essential Patent or SEP) you will be asked to make it available on ‘Fair and Reasonable Terms’ (FRAND) which could be negotiated as a 5% return on your investment. Even if your invention is not essential to the implementation of a standard, it could still be valuable to a larger company wishing to expand its portfolio.

Another reason for a company to be involved in ETSI or 3GPP is to get an early insight into emerging standards which could influence their product development strategy. An example which could impact on a future product’s EMC Compliance is ETSI TR103774 published in February 2022 entitled “Technical Characteristics for Radio Equipment used for power transfer and communication with associated peripheral devices using the 917,5 MHz RFID interrogator channel”. This report could lead to the publication of specific standards in the future which are relevant to future devices being developed for the periphery of 5G/6G systems.

For those of you who might be thinking of making contributions to standards, an example of a success story is the award-winning company AccelerComm Ltd which is a member of ETSI and 3GPP. Prof Rob Maunder (CTO) writes,

AccelerComm was founded as a spin-out from the University of Southampton in 2016. That year, I represented the budding spin-out in the 3GPP RAN1 standardisation of 5G NR channel coding. Despite being a very small fish in a very big pond, I was able to make a significant impact on the standards, by leveraging my academic experience of coding theory and my industry experience of their practical implementation. This 3GPP participation was foundational for AccelerComm, allowing the company to generate some early 5G implementation patents and develop deep insights into the design of the 5G channel codes, which was leveraged to produce AccelerComm’s leading products in this area. Since 2016, AccelerComm has continued to engage in 3GPP standardisation, as well as in interface standards from O-RAN and the Small Cell Forum”.

Article authored by David Faulkner and Nigel Wall.

David Faulkner is a director at Climate Associates Ltd (CAL) providing consultancy on sustainability and telecommunications. His experience goes back almost to the birth of optical fibre communications. He did much formative work on this in his PhD and in his research career in British Telecom. He Chaired the Conference on Networks and Optical Communications from 1995-2016 and was visiting lecturer at Essex University. He became active in the area of climate change mitigation whilst still in BT and in 2006 chaired the ITU-T Focus Group on ICT and Climate Change. He was finalist in the 2011 BT Innovation Awards for the Best Patent. He set up CAL in 2009, when he left BT, to continue work on Climate Change Mitigation, advising ICT companies how to reduce their carbon footprint and save money. At home, in 2019, he gave his house a clean-energy makeover by installing a heat pump, solar panels and a house battery, saving 5 tonnes CO2 entering the atmosphere each year.

Nigel Wall is a director at Climate Associates Ltd (CAL) providing consultancy on sustainability. CAL has participated in several European R&D projects providing design for sustainability guidance and GHG lifecycle assessments of the resultant designs to projects such as “VICINITY” - investigating IoT connectivity and “BATS” on broadband augmented by satellite, as well as commercial contracts. Nigel’s specialism is in Connected and Autonomous Vehicles, having led BT’s mobile data research team. Nigel has worked on standards for many years including ITU-T, ISO, CEN and ETSI.