3GPP agrees plan for first release of 5G specifications, including the New Radio access technology


The latest plenary meeting of the 3GPP Technical Specifications Groups (TSG#72) in Busan, Korea, has agreed on a detailed work plan for Release-15, the first release of 5G specifications. The plan includes a set of intermediate tasks and check-points to guide the ongoing studies in the various Working Groups. Key dates to watch out for:

  • September 2016: completion of Technical Report on New Radio (NR) requirements
  • December 2016: start of SA2 normative work on Next Generation (NexGen) architecture
  • March 2017: the beginning of the RAN Working Group’s specification of the 5G NR.

The 3GPP also made progress during the Busan meeting on defining the new radio (NR) access standard, agreeing the target scope for its eventual inclusion in Release 15. It has been decided that the NR must work in both standalone and non-standalone configurations – and by non-standalone they mean using LTE as the control plane anchor. Standalone mode implies full control plane capability for the NR. This is made possible because of the agreement to separate the control plane from the data plane, which is a familiar concept if you have been following TelecomTV’s coverage of NFV and next generation architectures.

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Qualcomm announces 5G NR sub-6GHz prototype system and trial platform

Qualcomm has announced its 5G New Radio (NR) prototype system and trial platform. The 5G NR prototype system operates in the sub-6GHz spectrum bands and is being utilized to showcase the Company’s innovative 5G designs to efficiently achieve multi-gigabit per second data rates and low latency.

“The 5G NR prototype further demonstrates our leadership in developing a unified, more capable 5G air interface, building upon our long-standing expertise in delivering OFDM chips and technology with LTE and Wi-Fi,” said Matt Grob, EVP and CTO, Qualcomm Technologies.

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3GPP SA1 completes its study into 5G requirements

Four new Technical Reports from 3GPP SA1 outline the New Services and Markets Technology Enablers (SMARTER) for next generation mobile telecommunications. All four were approved at the recent 3GPP SA#72 meeting, which now clears the way for the subsequent normative specification work to begin.

The Study started in 2015, with the identification of potential 5G use cases, resulting in TR22.891 which contains more than 70 different use cases. These use cases have been categorized in to different groups;

  • massive Internet of Things
  • Critical Communications
  • enhanced Mobile Broadband
  • Network Operation


Telefonica and Huawei sign joint innovation agreement on 5G&NG-RAN

The joint cooperation in the 5G and Next Generation RAN covers CloudRAN, 5G Radio User Centric No Cell, 5G Core Re-Architect and Massive MIMO innovation projects, aiming to improve the spectrum efficiency and build a cloud-native architecture. 5G Core architecture evolution and research on CloudRAN will be the major cooperation areas between Telefonica and Huawei.

The collaboration with Huawei in this area allows sharing the true requirements of a global operator as Telefonica, and helping to focus on providing the right solutions on this Advanced Network at the right time.” adds Enrique Blanco, Chief Technology Officer, Telefonica Group.


Will the US gain first-mover advantage with new 5G frequency bands?


I was asked the other day if we were about to enter another “mobile war” between the US and Europe as testing for 5G systems picks up pace, similar to the WCDMA and CDMA-2000 spat that characterised 3G development. No, was my unequivocal answer. The situation is very different this time.

However, what we might be seeing is the US trying to take a head start on higher frequency spectrum allocation – so-called cm and millimetre wave frequencies of 6GHz to 100GHz. The sub-6GHz frequencies were discussed at the last WRC international spectrum conference, but frequencies higher than this will not be debated at global governmental level until the next WRC event in 2019.

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Which waveform technology will make it into the new 5G Air Interface?


Test and measurement specialists Rohde & Schwarz have published a document that outlines the major potential 5G waveform candidates – vital for air interface design – listing their advantages and disadvantages and comparing them to Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM), which is used in LTE and LTE-Advanced.

Rohde & Schwarz have plenty of expertise in this field, and were vital to the introduction of GSM back in the early 1990s (and, incidentally, the subject of my very first telecoms article 25 years ago, when I naively suggested delays in test equipment could jeopardise the introduction of the new digital cellular). So much for 2G, with the forthcoming 5G Rohde & Schwarz is staying well ahead of the game.

The company says OFDM has certain limitations that makes it not the most suitable waveform for all the proposed applications envisioned for 5G. True, its continued use ensures backward compatibility with LTE, but can new services be better supported by an alternative waveform that can complement the weaker aspects of OFDM? Rohde & Schwarz lists the reasons why OFDM is not ideal for 5G, and anyone interested in the technical minutia should read the company’s report.

So what will a new waveform scheme have to support?

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Swisscom and Ericsson launch “5G for Switzerland” programme

Martin Buerki, Ericsson Head of Switzerland, said:

“We are delighted to partner with Swisscom and EPFL to extend our “5G for Europe programme” to Switzerland where we can address the innovation potential that 5G communications technology will bring by working together with local industries.”

Heinz Herren, CTO and CIO Swisscom:

“5G is still in the early stages of development. For Swisscom it is essential to be in on the planning from the start, preparing for future applications.”


Is the migration to 5G really as easy as Plug and Play?

“5G will be driven by new use cases requiring higher performance – from connected cars with perfect driving records, to immersive augmented reality for remote surgery, to multi-K movies on mobile devices,” said Arun Bansal, SVP and Head of Business Unit Radio at Ericsson. “5G will unlock new consumer and industrial applications, and with our 5G field trial plans already well underway, we are now introducing Ericsson 5G Plug-Ins, which enable the evolutionary steps that operators need to take as they develop networks to secure their 5G future.”


EU launches major industry-wide consultation on 5G


The European Union has launched a consultation to ensure the coordinated introduction of 5G networks in Europe – and it’s not limited to telcos, as it is seeking views from representatives of all industries involved in 5G technologies, which means verticals can also play a part.

For the past couple of years, we at TelecomTV have been disappointed by the inward telco-focus of early 5G work and calling for more involvement from major verticals at the standardisation stage. Historically, the telecoms sector has found it difficult to engage with their counterparts in verticals. However, the EU is now giving industry the perfect chance to have their say on what they want from 5G systems – hopefully they’ll take the opportunity.

As well as seeking input from the telecoms and ICT community, The EU also seeks contributions “from any sector that perceives benefits from connectivity to improve its process, products or services”.

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37 per cent of company executives have no idea about 5G; tell that to the telcos


Two surveys have landed on my virtual desk at TelecomTV this morning. Whilst both focus on 5G, one has been completed by telco executives and the other by vertical businesses around the world. No surprise that there is a huge disparity between the two.

Let’s take the findings from Ericsson first. It commissioned a detailed survey of 100 technology leaders from telecom operators in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Central and Latin America, and asked them about their plans for 5G adoption. The headline figure is that 87 per cent agreed with the statement: “5G will be a real game-changer for us.”

It also revealed that 92 per cent of respondents agreed that 5G paves the way for the emergence of new technologies, 86 per cent believed that 5G enables a wider range of services than any network has done before, and 86 per cent also believed that 5G will enable new disruptive business models and technology in industries. These are extremely high percentages and really come as no surprise.

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