At their working meeting in Lisbon, Portugal today, the 3GPP (3rd Generation Partner Project) has ratified the standard for the first 5G New Radio. Setting the specifications of this first 5G NR is critical as it becomes the standard by which carriers and manufactures use to build or utilize 5G networks respectively. The news isn’t surprising as they have been working tirelessly to come up with a standard early so the transition from 4G to 5G is as smooth as possible.
When 5G begins rolling out, it will leverage the backbone of today’s LTE networks and will focus primarily on data. It will also utilize sub-6GHz that many carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile have been purchasing rabidly. Because the focus of this first NSA 5G (Non-Stand Alone), specifications for calls are not outlined in the initial specification.
SA (Standalone) 5G has not been ratified and likely won’t be until the summer of 2018. This will be the replacement for 4G LTE we know today.
The important takeaway for readers is that a huge amount of work has already gone into defining what 5G is and how it will be leveraged by manufactures of phones and carriers. It is an important first step and, because it is happening well in advance of it becoming available, there will be no ambiguity of what they need to do in order to deliver 5G to you.
As you would expect, just like when 4G LTE came into being, phones will have to be manufactured to support 5G with Qualcomm, who is part of 3GPP, driving that effort. Carriers are already buying big swaths of sub-6GHz network as well as 24GHz network to prepare themselves for the coming 5G revolution.