3GPP already looking to Release 16

In December last year the 3GPP finalized the non-standalone 5G New Radio (NR) specification, paving the way for early commercial deployments that will use an upgraded radio connected to LTE core networks. The international standards-setting body met this week in Indian, and Lorenzo Casaccia, Qualcomm vice president of technical standards, made the point in a recent blog post that there’ still lots of immediate and long-term work to be done.

In summary, Casaccia said the upcoming major action items are:

  • “Stabilization” of the non-standalone Release 15 specification;
  • Finalization of the standalone 5G NR specification with updates to the core network;
  • And looking ahead to Release 16 “and beyond to further expand the 5G ecosystem.”

The standalone variant of the standard is due out in June 2018; Casaccia highlighted the operative advancements: “NSA and SA share common 5G NR physical layer specifications for the air interface, so these common aspects were completed as part of the December 2017 milestone. Therefore, the main focus for the SA standardization is on the upper layers will full user and control plane capability and on the next-gen core network architecture, including, for example, network slicing, a more granular QoS model and a more advanced security architecture.”

Network slicing is the ability to create multiple, service-specific virtual networks on a single physical network. By automatically spinning up optimized data pipes, operators can provide services tailored to the needs of specific applications or enterprise users while simultaneously making the most efficient use of its network and spectrum resources.

Speaking to the move from interworking 5G radio with a totally new 5G core, Oracle VP of Product Management John Lenns told RCR Wireless News, “It’s going to be a little while.” He said the request for information (RFI) process is starting, which will give way to lab work.

With support for network slicing and microservices architecture, “I think the efficiencies…might come from how products will be deployed in the IoT and 5G space where the operators are now asking for microservice-based deployments.” Instead of “monolithic,” vertical software stacks, Lenns said, “The architecture demands are going to be such that these solutions be deployed in a container-based, microservices architecture. Only those microservices that are needed for that particular offering at that particular time will need to be turned up. It will be a new way to deploy very rapidly and turn it up, turn it down for the service, and be very efficient.”

Looking ahead to Release 16, Casaccia said the goal will be expanding to “new types of services/devices, new deployment/business models and new spectrum bands/types…Qualcomm has already started work on the next wave of 5G NR technologies.”


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