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3GPP sets 2018 as freeze date for 5G air interfaces

LTE control plane will help ease carrier transition

The 3GPP has told the industry to get cracking on standardising the air interface for 5G.

The standards body wants the “5G New Radio” (NR) to be frozen by June 2018, which should help vendors have devices ready for the planned 2020 date for 5G standards to be ready to fly.

Behind the radio, there will be two architectures: one, called standalone, will be all-5G with a new control plane; the other, non-standalone, will graft the new air interfaces onto the LTE control plane.

The air interfaces will have to support both sub-6 GHz frequency, and the emerging bands above 6 GHz.

The standardisation effort will target “enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), and “ultra-reliable and low latency communications” (URLCC) applications. The latter, Vulture South believes, is a cumbersome way of describing the much-touted Internet of Things.

By September 2016, the 3GPP work plan stipulates that the requirements for the radio interfaces be completed. Layer 1 and Layer 2 specs would then be completed by December 2017, with an initial focus on licensed bands.

3GPP 5G timeline

The 3GPP's timetable for 5G air interface work

The 3GPP announcement stresses that both radio and protocol design be forward compatible, “as this will be key for phasing-in the necessary features, enabling all identified usecases, in subsequent releases of the 5G specification”. ®

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