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3GPP Finalizes 5G SA Standard

It allows for deployment of the cellular service on new networks

LA JOLLA, Calif. — The 3GPP announced last week that it has approved the 5G SA (standalone) standard for next generation wireless. This follows the group’s approval last year of 5GNR, which allows standard to be built on existing LTE networks. The 5G SA standard allows for deployment of the cellular service on new networks. 3GPP is an international standards body that governs cellular standardization.

“The 5G System specification has now reached its official stage of completion,” said Erik Guttman, Chairman of 3GPP TSG SA (Technical Specifications Group Standalone).

More than 600 delegates from the world’s major telecom operators, network, terminals and chipset vendors, internet companies and other vertical industry companies attended the meeting, which 3GPP characterized as “historic.”

The finalization of the standard means that, in the words of 3GPP, the telecommunications industry can now take the “final sprint” towards 5G commercialization.

“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, making 5G a facilitator and an accelerator during the intelligent information and communications technology improvement process of enterprise customers and vertical industries,” the organization in announcing the milestone. “New business models will be enabled and a new era where everything is interconnected will be opened up for both mobile operators and industrial partners.”

“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,” said Balázs Bertényi, chairman of 3GPP TSG RAN (Technical Specifications Group). “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.”

Major U.S. telecom providers including Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile have already announced plans to deploy 5G—which will greatly expand cellular bandwidth, allowing for more robust video offerings—as early as this year.

In its comments marking the occasion, Verizon noted that it had recently marked two “industry firsts” in 5G development, including the successful completion of outdoor data sessions based on the 3GPP NR standard and the successful completion of multi-carrier aggregation, boosting the signals into the gigabit range.

Hank Kafka, vice president, Access Architecture and Standards for AT&T said that “commercial 5G services are closer than ever with the completion of 3GPP Release 15. This milestone will allow for more advanced testing using standards-compliant equipment and paves the way for our commercial 5G launch in a dozen cities later this year. We are proud to have been part of the process as the industry participants in 3GPP came together to achieve the acceleration, and now completion, of the first phase of 5G specifications.”