3GPP accelerates Non-Standalone 5G NR standardisation process

14 Mar 2017

The 3GPP has agreed with proposals from operators and vendors to accelerate the standardisation process for the ‘interim’ Non-Standalone (NSA) 5G New Radio (NR) air-interface for enhanced Mobile BroadBand (eMBB), setting a new finalisation target of March 2018. The 3GPP release notes that in NSA mode the connection is anchored in 4G LTE while 5G NR carriers are used to boost data rates and reduce latency; the 3GPP target for completion of the Standalone (SA) 5G NR mode remains set at September 2018.

Last month a group of 15 major mobile network operators and seven equipment vendors called for the move to support large-scale trials and deployments of NSA 5G NR starting in 2019 utilising existing LTE radio and evolved packet core networks; since the proposal was made, two additional major companies, Telefonica and Nokia, have added their weight to the plan (whilst a notable large global player remaining uncommitted to the NSA scheme is Orange Group). In the wider 5G standardisation timeline, another 3GPP key target is ‘Overall 5G Core Network’ standards to be completed ‘by June 2018’.