The 3GPP has announced the finalization of the other half of the 5G standard, bringing the overall standardization process to a close. If you’re having a flash of deja vu from this announcement, it’s because this is the second 5G standard that’s been completed. The first, which is intended for non-standalone deployments, was finished in December. The second section of the standard is intended for standalone deployments, and has just wrapped up.
5G is expected to usher in dramatically faster internet speeds, and it’ll do so (mostly) using existing 4G infrastructure. That’s the reason for there being two versions of the standard in the first place. One of them (non-standalone) is intended to be deployed on top of existing LTE installations, while the other (standalone) is for new installations.
One reason why 5G development is rather difficult to keep track of is because there’s a great many moving parts underneath the hood. 5G incorporates two distinct frequency ranges — one below 6GHz, and one from 24-86GHz, with the exact spectrum used depending on the carrier, country, application, and even the location of the user. Millimeter-wave technology is expected to be deployed for ultra-high-bandwidth over short or line-of-sight distances, while longer backhaul will use lower frequencies. Small cell deployments and beamforming are going to be critical to maximizing 5G connections, which is one reason why 5G service could actually wind up being more expensive than LTE.
Here’s how Samsung described the most recent standardization work:
The completion of SA specifications which complements the NSA specifications, not only gives 5G NR the ability of independent deployment, but also brings a brand new end-to-end network architecture… Balázs Bertényi, Chairman of 3GPP TSG RAN, said: “The freeze of Standalone 5G NR radio specifications represents a major milestone in the quest of the wireless industry towards realizing the holistic 5G vision. 5G NR Standalone systems not only dramatically increase the mobile broadband speeds and capacity, but also open the door for new industries beyond telecommunications that are looking to revolutionize their ecosystem through 5G.”
5G is being treated as a game-changer for wireless networks. Not only is it expected to be the network of choice for billions of IoT and IIoT (Industrial Internet of Thing) devices, it’s designed to offer a greater degree of implementation flexibility than LTE did.
Up until now, the primary devices hooked into a cellular network were, well, cellular phones. In the future, 5G deployments are anticipated for everything from home appliances to industrial automation equipment. Cars, laptops, televisions, — everything short of the family dog is expected to connect via 5G, at least in theory. With an expected achievable data rate of 100Mbps (not the actual theoretical maximum), there’s far more available bandwidth than ever before. That should enable new devices and experiences from every aspect of the market.