Having seen most of its development under the shadows of a global pandemic, Rel. 17 is putting a solid foundation for the next phase of 5G. The biggest focus of the standard has been expanding the benefits of 5G beyond traditional smartphone and broadband markets, to many industry verticals. It blazes a new trail supporting many path-breaking concepts such as eXtended Reality (XR), Non-Terrestrial Networks, Reduced Capability (RedCap) connectivity, and others. Rel. 17 also includes a whole slew of enhancements to features introduced in Rel. 16 such as Integrated Access Backhaul, precise positioning, Sidelink, etc., as well as fine-tuning of Rel. 15 features. The standard is expected to be finalized in early 2022.
The unprecedented circumstances of the pandemic forced 3GPP to move all the meetings online. This was a big setback for an organization where the progress is only made consensus achieved through intense face-to-face discussions. This resulted in the standard finalization being delayed and some of the features being down scoped.
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