Mobile milestone: Industry gives 5G standalone specifications seal of approval

15 Jun 2018

5G will enable ultra-HD videos for consumers on mobile devices. Image: mirtmirt/Shutterstock

The work to bring 5G to the masses reaches a critical point.

The mobile industry has achieved official approval of 5G standalone specifications, in what carriers and standards organisation 3GPP is dubbing “the final sprint towards 5G commercialisation”.

In December 2017, 3GPP approved the earlier ‘non-standalone’ specifications, which allowed chipmakers, networks and device manufacturers to begin building early 5G products that partially leveraged existing 4G and LTE infrastructure.

Final steps towards digital transformation

The release, which is known as ‘Release 15’ or ‘Rel-15’ was announced on 14 June. It is the culmination of close to three years of engineering efforts, and 3GPP was in Busan last month to organise the final steps needed to tie up loose ends.

Georg Mayer, chair of 3GPP TSG CT, made a statement commemorating the achievement: “Two years ago, 5G was seen as a vision or even just a hype. With the closing of Rel-15, 3GPP has made 5G a reality within a very short time.

“The outcome is an amazing set of standards that will not only provide higher data rates and bandwidth to end-customers, but which is open and flexible enough to satisfy the communication needs of different industries.”

Consumer benefits

For the average consumer, games consoles, virtual and augmented reality, and ultra-HD video are just a number of areas that will benefit from 5G connectivity, while industrial applications include smart city development and autonomous vehicles. The new standard opens up potential avenues for new business models in what will be the most interconnected era on record.

Numerous delegates from global telecoms companies and manufacturers such as Deutsche Telekom, AT&T, China Telecom and Samsung were present at the meeting in La Jolla, California. Many representatives spoke with enthusiasm about the potential the development holds for consumer users and businesses alike and noted the difficult journey the industry undertook to achieve its goal.

Carrying the momentum of 5G

Vice-president of China Mobile, Li Zhengmao, said: “The whole industry will carry the momentum to accelerate the maturity of the 5G end-to-end system, create a new ecology of cross-industry integration, cultivate a new model for 5G development and make greater contributions to the development of the global digital economy.”

The first commercial services are slated to go live in 2019, with even more aspects to be enabled once network operators reconfigure their core systems to be more software-based to allow for the ultra-low latency 5G is said to provide.

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects