The specification for 5G New Radio (NR) was recently finalized at the 3GPP Technical Specifications Group meeting in La Jolla, CA. In contrast to the prior announcement of 5G standards being approved in December, the new specifications are for standalone systems that do not rely on existing wireless networks to operate. The December release was for 5G non-standalone systems, which are more akin to transitional technologies, as they build on top of 4G technologies.
With the adoption of the new standards, known as "Release 15," hardware vendors will be able to begin manufacturing radios for use in phones, tablets, Internet of Things (IoT) hardware, and other mobile devices. The availability of this hardware is an important part of the deployment roadmap for 5G networks in the United States and around the world.
SEE: Enterprise IoT research: Uses, strategy, and security (Tech Pro Research)
AT&T has announced plans to provide 5G services in 12 markets by the end of 2018, while Sprint announced that it will roll out 5G to Los Angeles, Washington DC, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, and Houston. T-Mobile USA announced a plan to roll out 5G to 30 cities starting this year, with Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, and Dallas to have the service by 2019.
It's unclear how the pending merger of the two networks will affect these deployments, though the combination of T-Mobile's 600 MHz spectrum holdings and Sprint's 2.5 GHz holdings, the two are well positioned for building a 5G network.
Georg Mayer, Chairman of 3GPP TSG for Core Network and Terminals said in a press release:
"Two years ago, 5G was seen as a vision or even just a hype - with the closing of Rel-15 3GPP has made 5G a reality within a very short time. The outcome is an amazing set of standards that will not only provide higher data rates and bandwidth to end customers but which is open and flexible enough to satisfy the communication needs of different industries — 5G will be the integration platform for heterogeneous businesses. All this could only be achieved thanks to the willingness of the stakeholders to work together on a common goal and due to the effectiveness of 3GPPs structure and processes. Rel-15 only marks the first step of the 5G story and 3GPP will further develop it into the future, aligning it to the needs of customers and industries."
With this standard finalized, work is continuing on Release 16, which will center around ultra-reliable and low-latency communications (URLLC), which will be a vital component for 5G deployments in industrial IoT use cases, such as robotics and telepresence systems.
TechRepublic was present at the 5th annual 5G Taipei Summit, held earlier this month as part of Computex 2018. The summit was held in conjunction with European Innovation Week, as a collaboration between the European Commision as Taiwanese government agencies—with the issues presented by industry leaders in 5G applicable across the world. Check out TechRepublic's 5 big takeaways here.
Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
- New specifications have been released for standalone 5G systems, which do not rely on existing wireless networks to operate.
- The next step for 5G is finalizing standards for ultra-reliable and low-latency communications (URLLC), which will be a vital component for industrial IoT use cases.
- Special report: Harnessing IoT in the enterprise (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
- Wiring for wireless: 5G and the tower in your backyard (ZDNet)
- 5G mobile networks: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
- The biggest switch: 5G and the race to replace the future (ZDNet)
- How Governors Island became the launchpad for NYC's 5G initiative (TechRepublic)
James Sanders is a Tokyo-based programmer and technology journalist. Since 2013, he has been a regular contributor to TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research.