3GPP puts some items on hold to meet December deadline on 5G NR

The industry is getting a little help in meeting the December deadline to complete the nonstandalone (NSA) version of 5G New Radio (NR). 

At the plenary meeting in Sapporo, Japan, a couple of weeks ago, the decision was made to put a handful of study items on hold until December, but the time lost on the study items will be recovered in the first half of 2018, according to Nokia’s Balazs Bertenyi, chairman of the 3GPP RAN, who provided an update on the plenary meeting via a Sept. 25 webcast.

“Given the challenges we have to finish Release 15 on time, we are going to put the study items on hold,” he said. “We’re very much going to be dealing with these in the first half of 2018.”

The items on hold include nonorthogonal multiple access, unlicensed spectrum for NR, nonterrestrial network (channel modeling), eV2X evaluation methodology, and integrated access and backhaul.

The most recent RAN meeting, identified as RAN #77 Plenary, is the subject of the latest Signals Research Group (SRG) report that provides an update on the standardization efforts.

“Surprising to us, there wasn’t any discussion pertaining to delaying the December deadline,” SRG wrote. “We’re sure this idea would be a nonstarter given operator [overly aggressive] statements regarding their near-term 5G ambitions, but we think it would have been the wiser decision given the industry is stuck with 5G/NR and its evolutionary path for at least the next decade. In theory, the 5G/NR air interface is designed to be forwards compatible and capable of supporting new features, capabilities, and use cases that do not exist today. Only time will tell.”

3GPP made several decisions that have implications for the industry, the researchers said. “These decisions, which include reduced functionality for at least the December release, impact LTE-NR coexistence, uplink data compression, scheduling, to include duplexing modes of operation, and how to address potential interference issues that can occur when a mobile device transmits LTE and NR simultaneously,” SRG said. “Surprising to us, Apple took a very strong interest in this last topic, even though this issue is of far more interest to a company designing a 5G chipset and RF front-end then a company designing a 5G handset. Just saying.”

RELATED: Nokia confident December 3GPP deadline will be met for nonstandalone 5G NR

In March, the industry agreed, through 3GPP, to complete the NSA implementation of 5G NR by December 2017, paving the way for large-scale trials and deployments based on the specification in 2019 instead of 2020. AT&T said it could start some commercial deployments by as early as late 2018 given the revised deadline.

Some stakeholders questioned earlier this year whether completing all the work required to meet the December deadline would be achievable, but industry leaders expressed confidence that it would get done.