Mobile industry majors propose pre-standard 5G radio interface for testing

By Tony Chan

The world’s leading mobile operators and technology vendors have voiced a commitment to accelerate the development of 5G with an initiative based to enable “large-scale trials” of a pre-standard radio interface on existing infrastructure.  The initiative, backed by a who’s who of the industry sector – AT&T, NTT DOCOMO, SK Telecom, Vodafone, Ericsson, Qualcomm, British Telecom, Telstra, Korea Telecom, Intel, LG Uplus, KDDI, LG Electronics, Telia Company, Swisscom, TIM, Etisalat Group, Huawei, Sprint, Vivo, ZTE and Deutsche Telekom – aims to introduce an “intermediate milestone” to the development of 5G.

Just ahead of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, the companies pledged to complete “specification documents” that will define a new “non-standalone 5G NR.”  According to the firms, the “non-standalone 5G NR” utilises existing LTE radio and evolved packet core network infrastructure as an anchor for mobility management and coverage while adding a new 5G radio access carrier to enable certain 5G use cases starting in 2019. This will enable large scale trials of 5G air interfaces ahead of the release of 5G specifications by the 3GPP, the firms said.

“Based on the current 3GPP Release 15 timeline the earliest 5G NR deployments based on standard-compliant 5G NR infrastructure and devices will likely not be possible until 2020,” the firms said. “The supporting companies are further committed to make forward compatibility a key design principle for the standardization of the first release of 5G NR. This will enable in-band introduction of new capabilities and features in subsequent releases critical to enabling yet to be identified industries and use cases and achieving the 5G vision to connect everything to everything.”


(This article first appeared in

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