Will 2018 lay the foundation for the 5G era?

Will 2018 lay the foundation for the 5G era?

3GPP approved the first 5G NR Standard last week, paving the way an accelerated implementation roadmap for 5G. Saleh Bari reports

3GPP, a consortium of telecommunications organisations which oversees cellular standards, approved the first standards for the Non-Standalone (NSA) 5G New Radio (NR) at the RAN Plenary meeting held in Lisbon last week. While the release was originally scheduled for March 2018, pressure from industry stakeholders meant that the release was brought forward to an earlier date. The specification forms the first part of the global 5G standard, which will herald a new era of mobile connectivity.

The release of the 5G NR specification is significant because it is the first agreed upon standard for companies to work on. These standards can now be used by chipset makers to design silicon parts for chips based on these standards. It will enable a healthy ecosystem for cost-effective, full-scale development of 5G and also create new vertical market opportunities. The specification is part of Release 15, which 3GPP plans to continue to develop, including added support for Standalone (SA) 5G NR operation.

According to reports, the standards cover support for spectrums from less than 1 GHz to around 50 GHz. The Standalone version is expected to be completed by June next year, which will define user and control plane capability for 5G NR using the new 5G network architecture.  

Current 4G networks simply cannot catch up with the demands of newer technologies such as the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality / Virtual Reality. The 5G standards approval is the first step in the full-scale implementation of 5G networks which will help to enhance wireless speeds, improve network capacity and reduce latency. When fully implemented, operators can also gain a high level of spectrum efficiency which can be leveraged to support more devices, roll out new services and increase coverage.

Now, that the specifications have been laid down, it is up to the operators and vendors to deliver on the 5G promise. The release means that companies can actually perform large scale field trials by next year and if everything goes well, even start commercial deployments of 5G by late 2018 or early 2019. The next year promises to be an exciting ride for the telecoms industry. Keep watching this space for more updates.

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