3GPP has recently confirmed the approval of plans that will allow for quicker development of 5G NR or New Radio specifications in under six months. Because of this move, some network operators may even manage to pump out their 5G services in less than two years by 2019.
Basically, this approval means NR specifications will be finalized before the end of 2017 rather than the previously proposed timeline of 2018 June-July. Naturally, this allows for greater number of vendors to start working on standardized 5G solutions and equipment quicker than expected.
Another advantage of the latest 3rd Generation Partnership Program or 3GPP announcement is that we could see a version of 5G in public use by 2019 already that will be dubbed, “non-standalone”. This 5G service will work in conjunction with current 4G networks.
As shared by the current chairman of 3GPP, a major decision was pending on the future of 5G standards. Owing to the timelines, it was decided that an intermediate milestone is necessary to ensure early completion of 5G NR mode and thus non-standalone or NSA 5G was proposed.
Unfortunately, not all telecom companies are happy with the accelerated timelines. This particular proposal has met with criticism from all corners of the globe but more so from European service providers such as France’s Orange and Spain’s Telefonica. Standalone version of technology usually is a proper jump or enhancement over previous generations and a non-standalone does not actually justify the move. Nokia too has expressed similar concerns.
Those opposing the accelerated plan are in favour of the standalone version that will include the 5G NR specifications plus a brand new core network. While opposition to the proposed accelerated plan grew initially, many proponents have since swung over behind the 3GPP resolution released this week. US service providers, Verizon Communications Inc. is one such example.
3GPP has however confirmed that the acceleration plans will not hinder commitment to complete standalone 5G work and that should finish by mid of 2018. “Commitment towards standalone mode is still the main priority, consider this more as a stop-gap to quickly introduce 5G to the world”, said Heavy Reading principle Analyst, Gabriel Brown in a recent interview.