The beginning of a new era —  3GPP announces the completion of 5G NR Standalone Mode

Blog Post created by Sheri Employee on Jul 18, 2018

 A significant milestone in the final sprint toward 5G commercialization


Last month the 3GPP (Third Generation Partnership Project) approved 5G New Radio (NR) Release-15 standalone (SA) specification, paving the way for commercial introductions later this year.


Leading telecom operators, internet companies, and chipset, device, and equipment vendors contributed to this historic moment in 5G.  Release-15 introduces a new end-to-end network architecture enabling many new high throughput and low latency use cases that opens the door to new business models, and an era of everything connected. 


Does this mean 5G specifications are done? Not quite.  3GPP is working on additions to the current release and has already started work on phase II with Release-16 expected in 2019. The specifications add new capabilities and technologies that require leading-edge innovations in new designs. I am personally excited about the technology growth and advancements we will see in the next three to five years as the specifications evolve through Release-16 and beyond.

3GPP Release 15 photo by Keysight representative Moray Rumney.

3GPP Release-15 photo, courtesy of Keysight representative Moray Rumney.


The December 2017 announcement enabled operators to deploy 5G non-standalone mode (NSA) using existing LTE evolved packet core (EPC) for the control plane.  With the June 2018 Release-15, now 5G can operate in standalone (SA) mode using the completely new 5G RAN (radio access network) and core. This is a significant step forward because now 5G can support the many different use cases envisioned by IMT-2020, including high throughput on the mobile internet and low latency applications.  Enabling technologies such as flexible numerologies, massive MIMO and beam steering, and the use of mmWave spectrum dramatically changes designs of devices and network infrastructure.


Operators and network equipment manufacturers are already conducting 5G trials and plan for initial mmWave fixed wireless introductions in select cities later this year, and mobile smartphone services in 2019. Keysight has been working closely with these companies. Satish Dhanasekaran, senior vice president of Keysight Technologies, and president of the Communications Solutions Group (CSG) shared his perspective on the achievement: “We are excited to enable the industry at a threshold of 5G acceleration and commercialization. The completion of the standalone (SA) 5G new radio (NR) specification marks a distinct milestone and offers a playbook for a connected ecosystem to move forward, in making 5G a reality and unlocking huge potential for society. Keysight is engaged with market leaders, contributing to the 3GPP standardization development, and providing scalable 5G test and measurement solutions from L1 all the way to L7.”


What’s next? After a brief self-congratulatory pause, the focus quickly turns to work on a late drop of Release-15 planned for later in 2018 to fix some known issues. There is also the lengthy “to-do” list for Release-16 to address some critical challenges including reducing device power consumption, addressing network interference management, enhancing reliability in IoT use cases, and furthering the integration of licensed, unlicensed and shared spectrum into 5G deployments. There’s a long road ahead of us for 5G, and it’s not going to be an easy one. To stay up-to-date on 5G New Radio, check back on this blog or go to the 5G NR webpage to access white papers, webinars, and other informative content on 5G NR.


You can get more information about Keysight Technologies 5G solutions here.