3GPP puts finishing touch on Standalone version of 5G standard

The 3GPP officially completed the Standalone (SA) version of the 5G New Radio (NR) standard at a meeting in La Jolla, California, this week, marking a long-awaited target date for the standard.

The Non-Standalone (NSA) version of the standard was approved in December 2017. The NSA part of the standard leverages the legacy LTE core network while the SA portion provides for independent deployment.

In a collective announcement, the group said more than 600 delegates from operators, network, terminals and chipset vendors, internet companies and other vertical industry companies witnessed “this historic moment for 5G.”

“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, in a statement. “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.”

Erik Guttman, chairman of 3GPP TSG SA, agreed completion of the stage 3 freeze milestone for the 5G standalone system has great significance. “The 5G System specification has now reached its official stage of completion, thanks to the intense efforts of hundreds of engineers over the past three years,” he said. “A special acknowledgment is due to those who led this remarkable effort in diverse committees.”

RELATED: 3GPP declares first 5G NR spec complete

Not to pull the wind out of anybody’s sails, but there's still more work to be done. In a research note, SRG Research and Consulting Services noted that while it is partially correct to say that Option 2 and Option 3 of the standards are “finished,” it is not correct to say Release 15 is finished, and “it’s clearly not correct to say that work on 5G is finished.”

Despite all the work that has been completed up to this point, the devil is in the details. “We believe some RAN working groups will spend much of the remaining year addressing known gaps in the specifications, not to mention fixing things that member companies identify in the coming months,” SGR said.