“Joya” means “jewel” in Spanish. And the city in California with this name was fitting indeed for the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) to announce the much anticipated jewel represented by the release of the full 5G Phase-1 standards on June 13.
3GPP is one of the leading wireless standards bodies that unites seven telecommunications standard development organizations, and provides its members with a stable environment to produce the reports and specifications that define 3GPP technologies. Its meeting in La Jolla last week marks another essential step in the standardization of 5G that will further provide a number of industries around the world with a foundation for a new digital economy and connected society of the future.
Here’s how we got to this point and what it means for the next stage of 5G.
A Long Yet Swift Journey
From March 11, 2015, when 3GPP introduced the SMARTER Study Item at its Shanghai meeting, to Sept. 17, 2015, when 3GPP held its 1st RAN Workshop in Phoenix, to the release of the new standard on June 13 in La Jolla, 5G’s history may seem to be a long journey. At least on one level, this seems understandable given the mammoth task of designing and defining what is possibly the most complex technology humankind has ever seen.
Yet in reality, this has been a swift journey compared to the more than four years it took for the relatively much simpler technology of 4G/LTE to develop. This swift journey has mainly been the result of exemplary industry collaboration and laudable contributions of hundreds of engineers from around the world.
What’s Happened Exactly
Following on the 5G New Radio (NR) specifications for Non-Standalone (NSA) mode, which were approved on Dec. 22, 2017, 3GPP has now approved the 5G New Radio (NR) specifications for Standalone (SA) mode. Importantly, this marks the completion of the 5G Phase-1 standards.
What this means is that, with the formal ratification of complete 5G Phase-1 standards, these new standards now enable the next waves of development:
- 5G commercial deployments to commence.
- 5G NR to be deployed standalone as a greenfield deployment, without using the existing 4G Evolved Packet Core, the framework that provides converged voice and data on a 4G/LTE network, as the control plane anchor.
- New end-to-end architecture (including the new 5G Core Network) that can be leveraged for new opportunity areas, especially in non-telecom industries.
5G-based solutions can now be developed and deployed based on global industry standards, delivering the benefits of a future-proof road map, interoperability, ubiquitous acceptance, and economies of scale.
As a next milestone, 3GPP will formally make the initial technology submission to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) at a major meeting in June 2019, and this will lead to the subsequent milestones for IMT-2020 within the ITU.
Although there is still a long way to go for the full vision to be realized, let there be no doubt that the release of this latest standard marks another major step toward the promising future of 5G, and another jewel in the new capabilities it will enable. Syniverse looks forward to playing a central role in this future, and helping our customers expand and strengthen their connections in the new 5G world in a number of new ways.
As Senior Strategy Director and Head of Industry Standards at Syniverse, Pradeep Bhardwaj serves as a senior technology adviser overseeing strategic initiatives to advance the adoption of leading-edge technologies and standards, such as 5G, the internet of things, mobile edge computing, LTE, and VoLTE. Pradeep joined Syniverse in 2005 and has built a career that encompasses more than 26 years of experience with mobile operators and telecommunication companies in the areas of GSM, fixed-line, international, wholesale, international roaming, messaging, signaling, satellite, data, and IP communications. Pradeep’s emphasis is on technology strategy, industry standards, systems engineering, and architecture. Among the leadership roles he has held in the industry, he served as the chairman of the GSMA Hubbing Provider Interworking Group from its inception to its end. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.