A group of 15 mobile providers and seven equipment vendors have called for the acceleration of the 5G New Radio (NR) standardisation process to open the way for large-scale trials and deployments as early as 2019. The first 3GPP 5G NR specification is scheduled to be part of Release 15 – the global 5G standard that will make use of both sub-6GHz and mmWave spectrum bands – but, based on the current 3GPP Release 15 timeline, the earliest deployments based on standard-compliant 5G NR infrastructure and devices will likely not be possible until 2020. Instead, a new proposal put forward by the 22 companies advocates the introduction of an intermediate milestone to complete specification documents related to a configuration dubbed ‘Non-Standalone 5G NR’ to enable large-scale trials and deployments starting in 2019. Non-Standalone 5G NR would utilise the existing LTE radio and evolved packet core network as an anchor for mobility management and coverage while adding a new 5G radio access carrier to enable certain 5G use cases starting in 2019. The new proposal and the intermediate milestone also solidifies the schedule for the complete standard, including Standalone 5G NR in Release 15.
A statement from the group added that they are: ‘further committed to make forward compatibility a key design principle for the standardisation of the first release of 5G NR. This will enable in-band introduction of new capabilities and features in subsequent releases critical to enabling yet to be identified industries and use cases and achieving the 5G vision to connect everything to everything.’
The group comprises the following 22 companies: service providers AT&T, NTT DOCOMO, South Korea Telecom (SKT), Vodafone Group, BT Group, Telstra, KT Corp, KDDI, Telia Company, Swisscom, Telecom Italia (TIM), Etisalat, Sprint, LG Uplus and Deutsche Telekom; and vendors Ericsson, Qualcomm Technologies, Intel, Vivo, LG Electronics, Huawei and ZTE.