3GPP Release 16 provides new 5G opportunities

Telecoms.com periodically invites expert third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece, Oliver Korfmacher, Vice President of Product Management at Enea, reviews the new capabilities that come with the latest iteration of the 5G standard.

It is finally happening – well almost. 5G Standalone (SA) is slowly but surely coming to fruition. According to a recent study, in the next 12 – 18 months, 27% of operators will deploy 5G SA and a further 10% will deploy it within 24 months. Better late than never. This makes the impending Release 16 rather timely. Announced by 3GPP – the international group that governs cellular standards – the release is scheduled for completion later this year and operators around the world are trying to get their ducks in a row.

Release 16 is significant. For the first time a stipulation clearly demarcates a split between 5G data and 5G functions. It also requires that different network functions on the 5G Core should no longer have their own database, but instead share one single database that links to a Network Data Layer (NDL), which comprises of a repository for structured and unstructured data.

This, combined with specific rules and guidelines outlined in the release will allow operators to utilize ‘best of breed’ solutions, affording them true flexibility and freedom as their dependence on big vendors starts to ease. Network providers will be able to mix and match vendors on a domain level or even as single network functions, allowing operators to optimise costs and functionality like never before.

What can operators do to prepare for Release 16?

In a major change from Release 15, non-functional elements such as alarming configuration, fault management and KPIs are now all standardised. Thanks to this dynamic and open approach, operators have more control and can flex their muscles to strengthen their networks and their market position. By leveraging Release 16’s cloud-native data-centric architecture, operators can for instance build their own alarming mechanism or are able to pick their vendor of choice to integrate one.

Therefore, to truly take advantage of the new release, operators around the world will need to start adopting new strategies to introduce the underlying infrastructure for a cloud that is not vendor-dependent. Combined with network slicing operators will be able to deliver tailored services for different vertical segments to monetize different enterprise use cases.

Notably Release 16 places greater emphasis on the interoperability between 4G and 5G, and is very much being positioned as the bridge between network generations. This will allow operators to take a phased approach to rollouts as not every consumer will immediately adopt new SIM cards and subscriptions. This interoperability is crucial, not only for consumer continuity, but for the management of data and a database itself.

The handling of data

The Unified Data Management (UDM) system – the 5G successor of Home Subscriber Server (HSS) and the Home Location Register (HLR) – manages subscriptions, and subscribers may be able to switch between 4G and the new 5G system. This will make it simpler for operators to migrate subscribers and is the same for IP mobility between 4G and 5G.

Figure 1. 5G Core architecture allows vendors with choice and interoperability, thereby, allowing extreme scalability and improved service availability.

To effectively manage data on all levels, operators will need to be cloud-native and have containerized micro services architecture that can deal with the new traffic models. Not only that, but this architecture should be scalable and open to automation to meet future needs.

Being able to launch new features on networks quickly is going to require continuous integration and deployment models on the 5G Core. The 5G core is also the main facilitator of multi-access edge computing (MEC). For many operators this is going to take some adjustment, and many will need to adopt a new mind set – simply upgrading old products will not work at this stage.

Ready, set, monetize 5G!

Operators will welcome the fact that Release 16 makes monetizing 5G easier. Being able to unify operations significantly reduces operational costs for network providers, while simultaneously providing a faster time to market for new features operators want to innovate and launch.

Savings can be made in other places too. In the past, it was common for operators to have multiple alarming systems to contend with from different vendors. While that is still very much an option, it’s now also possible to use one single overlaying system resulting in vastly simplified architecture. The initial outlay might cost more in the short term, but the savings in the long term are undeniable.

With 5G SA and Release 16, operators can offer high bandwidth, low latency use cases for IoT by leveraging the 5G core and the Network Data Layer. Network slicing allows operators to monetize these new services as 5G SA regional data centres will offer 10-20 millisecond latency. Edge and deep edge data centres will offer latencies of around 1 to 10 milliseconds.

Potential issues

Release 16 is an excellent start, but there is room for improvement. For one, more standardisation. Some large incumbent vendors have actively been trying to block greater standardisation to protect their own interests. Well, that is to be expected. After all Release 16 is a real game changer – it empowers operators to offer a wider range of use cases for new and existing devices. It also gives operators more choice – an à la carte approach to selecting what vendors they can use.

Another issue is the interface specification for unstructured data. While it’s good enough for subscriber and device data at the moment, it’s not yet mature enough to handle more dynamic data like binding data and sessions. I am confident that 3GPP will address these soon.

To 5G and beyond!

Release 16 bridges the gap between two significant mobile generations – 4G and 5G – seamlessly while laying the foundation for something truly future-proof as the 5G architecture can become the overall architecture for all data networks, embracing legacy, non 3GPP wireless and wireline. Therefore, it impacts operators and vendors alike, levelling the playfield for vendors and makes the market truly competitive for operators. It will be interesting to see how the vendor market evolves over the coming months and years and how operators unleash 5G’s true potential. Not too long to wait.

 

Oliver Korfmacher is responsible for portfolio and product management of Enea’s Telco Solutions for Core Subscriber, Policy, Authentication network functions. He is defining and developing solutions scope in the telecommunications space as well as the company’s strategic position in this challenging market. His current focus is to pave the way to cloud native architectures and align the standardization definitions (for instance from the emerging 5G concepts) with the market realities for user and machine communications networks. Prior to this position, he served as stream lead for Policy solutions in various large telco vendors and system integrators, and as principal consultant for an international mobile messaging and identity management company for many years.

ZTE wins a chunk of China Mobile’s 5G core work

Chinese kit vendor ZTE has won the bid for a bunch of work on the standalone 5G core of China Mobile.

Any deal win with China Mobile is significant as it’s the world’s largest mobile operator. It is generally expected that the majority of any such work will be given to Chinese vendors, as that’s the way things seems to be done over there. Most recently China Mobile awarded 86% of its 5G RAN work to Chinese vendors, with ZTE getting around 30% of the work.

It’s hard to work out precisely how big a piece of the 5G core pie ZTE has got, because the English language press release seems to have just been put through Google Translate, but it looks like ZTE did a bit bet in the core than it did the RAN.

“For the public-oriented network, ZTE has won the bid of 12 provinces in six regions, and secured the bid for 35% shares in 31 provinces in China for the industry-oriented network,” said the press release. “This well demonstrates the company’s industry-leading strength in the 5G SA core network.”

We also got a rare update on ZTE’s global 5G deal wins. “To date, ZTE has obtained 46 commercial 5G contracts in major markets, such as Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa (MEA),” we’re told. “ZTE commits 10 percent of its annual revenues to research and development and takes leadership roles in international standard development organizations.”

That number still puts ZTE well behind Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia. But is still a decent tally. Huawei doesn’t seem to have made any announcements regarding its share of Shina Mobile’s 5G core work, but it seems safe to assume it got most of the remainder.

Great expectations for the Next Generation 5G Core

The single biggest change in the telecoms landscape over the last year was that commercial 5G networks went live around the world. More than 50 networks in over two dozen countries had switched on 5G services by the end of 2019. Subscriber uptake was already faster than the same period when 4G was first introduced, according to data released by the South Korean operators. The research firm Ovum (now part of Omdia) predicted that over 1.3 billion subscribers are expected to sign on 5G by 2023.

(Here we are sharing the opening section of this Telecoms.com Intelligence special briefing to look into why and how the industry should start embracing the next generation 5G core (NG 5GC) and where we are now vs. the expectations.

The full version of the report is available for free to download here.)

Why we should embrace Next Generation 5G Core

5G has come with high promises. The technology was designed from the outset with service scenarios. The plan was for 5G to provide enhanced mobile broadband access (eMBB), ultra-reliable low latency communications (URLLC), and massive machine-type communications (mMTC), to serve both consumers and business customers. So far, although there have been limited tests of URLLC and mMTC, all the 5G commercial networks have primarily been marketing high speed internet access as its key selling point, both on mobile and in the form of fixed-wireless access.

What 5G operators can offer is constrained by the underlying networks that power the service, which in turn are constrained by the specifications process. No company would be happy to invest in a technology, only to discover soon after that it would not be interoperable with the industry standards. The current mode of 5G implementation involves overlaying 5G radio access network (RAN) on top of 4G core networks, the so-called non-standalone (NSA) mode. In order to offer more advanced services, such as end-to-end network slicing, the industry needs end-to-end 5G, or the standalone (SA) mode. 3GPP, the standardisation body, will publish Release 16 (R16) in the first half of this year, which will define the specifications of the Next Generation 5G Core (NG 5GC). Only after the specifications are frozen can the industry start serious investment in the latest technology.

The industry needs NG 5GC for multiple reasons. On the customer side, the excitement from fast internet access can only go so far, and even on this count, the underwhelming experience from today’s patchy coverage and inconsistent speeds have already raised eyebrows. Global Wireless Solutions, an American network benchmarking, analysis and testing firm, conducted a field test of the 5G networks in the centre of London towards the end of last year. The highest download speed of 470 Mbps was recorded on EE network, while the lower speeds of 330 Mbps and 320 Mbps were recorded on O2 and Vodafone networks respectively. These did not only fall far short of the “gigabit speed” promised prior to the commercial launches, but also could be achieved only if the customer stood next to the base stations. Probably more importantly, the Global Wireless Solutions tests have found no meaningful improvement in latency from 4G connectivity. Both failed deliverables, the speed and latency, come primarily down to the fact that the live 5G networks are in NSA mode and are limited by 4G’s Evolved Packet Core (EPC).

On the service provider side, they need to up their game to justify the 5G investment. With the exception of the South Korean operators, which have priced 5G at a considerable premium (entry price of $46 vs. average ARPU of $29), most operators in other markets have not vastly hiked the tariff of 5G packages. This may not hurt them too much, as it cost the operators less to deliver data over 5G networks than over 4G networks, calculated on per GB basis. However, to recoup and to increase return on investment in 5G, operators need to aim to provide higher value services to business customers, including URLLC, edge services, network slicing, among others, which need 5G in SA mode supported by NG 5GC.

Then there is economics. Building a telecom network is not too dissimilar to building a railway network. The investment in radio networks, transport, core, etc. is sunk cost, just like the money spent on laying the rail tracks. No operator would want to go halfway with 5G, with plenty of investment but only limited possibility of return. Therefore, there will be the need from operators to go all the way to SA mode including to deploy NG 5GC to power it.

The following sections of the report will look into the opportunities the era of aggressive SA mode 5G launches will open to telecom operators and adjacent industries, and how telecom operators can capture these new opportunities by embracing NG 5GC. Specifically, the rest of the report will look at:

  • What NG 5GC is about, and why we need it now
  • What the practitioners are doing
  • When we will have NG 5GC

The full version of the report is available for free to download here.

Nokia and Ericsson compete for KDDI’s 5G core business

Within hours of each other Nordic kit vendors Nokia and Ericsson issued press releases announcing the completion of 5G core trials with Japanese operator KDDI.

Nokia is all about the standalone 5G core when it comes to KDDI and the trial it just completed involved its AirGile gear. Nokia likes to use the term ‘cloud-native’ a lot when taking up AirGile, as if the clever combination of ‘air’ and ‘agile’ into a neologism wasn’t enough. The 5G core is all about cloudy concepts such as agility and scalability, you see, and Nokia reckons it’s got all that stuff covered.

Here’s what the announcement had to say about the trial. “Nokia applied a service-based architecture to the 5G control plane, moving control functions completely into a cloud-based environment which provides operators with improved scalability, velocity and flexibility. The trial allows KDDI to highlight how a 5G control plane can utilize the communication model of today’s web services to create multiple software instances in a cloud environment.” If you want more than that you’ll have to go to the source.

“For Nokia, 5G is much more than radio,” said John Harrington, Head of Nokia Japan. “It’s an end-to-end network transformation. We are pleased to have successfully completed this 5G core SA network trial together with KDDI, as it marks a crucial milestone for KDDI’s 5G SA deployment as well as for Japan’s 5G. Nokia will continue to contribute to  the best of 5G and the cloud to enhance business processes and bring new applications and benefits to more markets and consumers.”

Hot on Nokia’s heels came Ericsson, which claimed a 5G cloud-native CI/CD software pipeline breakthrough, no less. For those telecoms dunces at the back, that stands for Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery, which is presumably preferable to sporadic or whimsical. “The container-based technology enables automatic deployment of new software and functionalities, while maintaining the high quality and availability of the 5G Core network,” we’re told.

“Our market-leading 5G core and unique CI/CD capabilities mean faster time-to-market, higher performance and cost efficiency,” said Jan Karlsson, Head of Business Area Digital Services at Ericsson. “Agile delivery of services while maintaining high quality and availability is a must in 5G Core networks. Our CI/CD end-to-end software pipeline achieves this. We are happy to continue to work with KDDI to automate their network operation.”

Based on our extremely limited understanding of these matters, the Nokia announcement feels like the more significant one, especially since the Ericsson one is represented by is digital services rather than networks unit. Since Japan has gone cold on Huawei, much of the business of its operators will be a straight fight between these two vendors. When it comes to KDDI’s 5G core, Nokia seems to be ahead right now.

SK Telecom claims multi-vendor 5G transmission first with Ericsson and Samsung

Korean operator SK Telecom says it has managed the world’s first standalone 5G data session on a multi-vendor commercial 5G network.

Single vendor set-ups are increasingly out of fashion in the telecoms world, with the traditional wariness about vendor lock-in compounded by geopolitical uncertainty that threatens to compel the exclusions of certain vendors that shall remain nameless. So this is an important step for 5G as well as another opportunity for South Korea to virtue-signal about how cutting-edge it is when it comes to 5G.

“With the successful standalone 5G data call on our multi-vendor commercial 5G network, we are now standing on the threshold of launching standalone 5G service, a key enabler of revolutionary changes and innovations in all industries,” said Park Jong-kwan, Head of 5GX Labs at SK Telecom. “SK Telecom will offer the best 5G networks and services to realize a whole new level of customer experience in the 5G era.”

The two vendors in question were Ericsson and Samsung. SKT wasn’t inclined to go into great depth on how this pivotal feat was achieved. We do know it involved applying SA NR radio to existing NSA base stations and, hey presto, it all worked a treat. While it was at it SKT decided to dabble in a spot of network slicing and edge computing, which frankly seems like showing-off, but then again if you’ve got it, flaunt it, innit.

3GPP rubber-stamps standalone 5G standard

The 3GPP TSG #80 plenary meeting has approved the completion of the standalone (SA) Release 15 5G specifications.

This marks the completion of the next major 5G standardization milestone after the standard for non-standalone (i.e. still reliant on legacy infrastructure) 5G was approved last December. As implied this standard allows the deployment of 5G independently thanks to a new network architecture.

“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. “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.”

“The agreed completion of the stage 3 freeze milestone for the 5G standalone system has great significance,” said Erik Guttman, Chairman of 3GPP TSG SA. “5G promises a broad expansion of telecommunications, as an ever more central component of our economies, societies and individual activities. The 5G System opens the way for commercialization of services based on the New Radio and 5G Core Network and their advanced extensible capabilities. The new system provides the foundation for ongoing specialization for support of new business sectors, for unlike 4G and past generations, 5G supports the very specific requirements and individual service characteristics of diverse communications.”

“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,” said Georg Mayer, Chairman of 3GPP TSG CT. “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 — 5G will be the integration platform for heterogeneous businesses.”

That enough canned quotes for you? No? OK how about comments from EVERYONE else involved in this latest piece of 5G standards action? Here you go:

China Mobile

Mr. Li Zhengmao, Vice President of China Mobile, said: “The name of the host place, La Jolla, means “the jewel” in Spanish. As the name of the host place, 5G has been viewed as a “jewel” from its birth and bears the expectations and dreams of the entire mobile communications industry to provide faster and smoother mobile broadband services and more comprehensive and more effective communication solutions to vertical industries. 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.”

Anritsu

Takashi Seike, the Senior Vice President of Anritsu, said: “We are very pleased to see the next frontier of wireless communication coming closer to reality by the completion of Standalone 5G NR specification. Anritsu is committed to contribute to commercial success of 5G by ensuring device and service quality through close collaboration with customers and partners.”

Asia Pacific Telecom

Mr. Fang-Ming Lu, Chairman of Asia Pacific Telecom, said: “The complete of Rel-15 NR specification opens the door for introducing more intelligence into the world. We are very pleased to continue cooperating with global industry partner to explore new applications of 5G technology. More specifically, Asia Pacific Telecom is willing to create 5G+8K eco-system to enrich our digital life and provide Industrial IoT services to offer more innovative solutions for society.”

AT&T

“Commercial 5G services are closer than ever with the completion of 3GPP Release 15,” said Hank Kafka, VP Access Architecture and Standards. “This milestone will allow for more advanced testing using standards-compliant equipment and paves the way for our commercial 5G launch in a dozen cities later this year. We are proud to have been part of the process as the industry participants in 3GPP came together to achieve the acceleration, and now completion, of the first phase of 5G specifications.”

British Telecom

“BT recognises another significant milestone on the path of 5G.” said Neil J. McRae, Chief Architect at BT, “This step provides the crucial foundation to enable the power of 5G to deliver on low latency, scale and high availability- the foundation that our customers need to usher in the fourth industrial revolution and the era of ultra collaboration.”

CAICT

Ms. Wang Zhiqin, Deputy Director of the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT), said: “The on-time delivery of the first version of 5G specifications does not come easily. It is the result of wisdom and sweat of people who has devoted themselves to 5G standardization. The new end-to-end business capability of 5G will become an essential engine to open up an era where everything is inter-connected. IMT-2020 (5G) Promotion Group is going to work with industrial partners to promote the successful deployment and development of 5G.”

CATT

Chen Shanzhi, the Vice President of Datang Telecom Group (CATT), said: “The success of 5G NR first full specification comes from the joint efforts of the industry. SA operation can be regarded as a prerequisite of 5G supporting both mobile internet and IoT, and also an accelerator for 5G successful commercialization and even a multiplier for 5G showing its social value. Therefore, the successful completion of SA specification has laid a foundation for the overall launch of 5G industry. With 5G commercialization entering the final sprint phase, Datang Telecom Group will continuously endeavor to promote 5G into global commercial success.”

China Telecom

China Telecom EVP, Dr. Liu Guiqing said: “China Telecom is proud of being important part of the team for completing this historical 5G milestone. With this Rel-15 SA specification frozen, China Telecom plans to lead the efforts on verifying the specified performance and optimizing the innovative features through field trials in many cities. In parallel to the verification efforts of Rel-15, China Telecom looks forward to working with others in 3GPP to define Rel-16 that is critical for URLLC applications. To get ready for commercialization, China Telecom will work closely with the vendors and partners to promote 5G ecosystem and to explore new applications and business cases.”

China Unicom

Dr. Shao Guanglu, China Unicom EVP, said: “The 5G standard completed at this meeting is result of sincere cooperation of the whole industry. It is the result of wisdom and sweat of experts in communications, and carries high expectation and dreams of the whole society to form a more intelligent world. The completion of specifications is a milestone for 5G commercialization. 5G can meet various business requirements in different scenarios. It can not only provide high speed wireless access, but also enable vertical industry applications. It help us carry out the national strategies such as Internet+ and Made in China 2025. China Unicom will work together with the whole industry to build a good ecosystem and create a new dimension for 5G development, with the “five new” attitude”.

Chunghwa Telecom

Mr. Kuo-Feng Lin, SEVP and CTO, Chunghwa Telecom said: “We are delighted to see R15 5G NR specifications have been successfully and timely completed. It not only sets a remarkable milestone for the global ecosystem towards 5G eMBB commercialization, but also heralds the start of R16 5G specifications towards broader mMTC and uRLLC opportunities. We appreciate the efforts and contributions from 3GPP colleagues and stakeholders. Chunghwa Telecom will continue cooperating with the whole industrial players to enter the 5G wonderland.”

Deutsche Telekom

“We welcome the on-time completion of the Standalone Architecture with a cloud-friendly core network as part of the Rel-15 3GPP standard. This is another crucial milestone to realize a full end-to-end 5G system,” says Alex Jinsung Choi, SVP Research & Technology Innovation, Deutsche Telekom. “Deutsche Telekom recently implemented the world’s first non-standalone architecture trial in a commercial network in Germany. We now look forward to continuing our cross-industry collaboration to accelerate the 5G ecosystem development and explore the applications of reduced latency and network slicing, so that we can bring the full benefits of 5G to our customers.”

DISH Network

“Congratulations to 3GPP, we are excited to be a part of the completion of this important milestone,” said Mariam Sorond, Vice President of Technology Development at DISH Network.  “5G is set to be a paradigm shift for the industry and the completion of standalone (SA) 5G new radio (NR) specifications will enable new entrants to usher in innovative solutions.  We look forward to contribute to future milestones which enable the full potential of 5G to address massive connectivity and solutions for other verticals beyond broadband.”

Ericsson

Erik Ekudden, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Ericsson, says: “5G is fast approaching commercial reality thanks to the dedicated, industry-wide standardization work lead by 3GPP, we together have accelerated the delivery of the standard well ahead of time. Together with our ecosystem partners we will sustain this momentum and ensure that communication service providers can successfully launch 3GPP standard-based 5G networks.”

Fujitsu Limited

Masayuki Seno, SVP and Head of Network Products Business Unit at Fujitsu, said: “Fujitsu is very proud to reach a major milestone by successfully completing standalone (SA) 5G NR specifications together with the world’s mobile operators and vendors. The 5G network is surely the foundation for the secure exchange of information between trusted communities in the hyper-connected world. Fujitsu will strive to provide 5G network products and connected services to co-create human centric innovation through digital technologies with our customers and partners all over the world.”

Huawei

Yang Chaobin, president of Huawei 5G product line, said: “With the development of 5G NR standardization, we are pleased to cooperate with global organizations to reach a great milestone that 3GPP 5G NR specification of Standalone(SA) have been completed, which is a critical step forward for the 5G standardization and industry ecosystem. Huawei will positively invest on the research and development of 5G key technology and product, continue cooperating with global industry partner, and promote the implementation of 5G commercial deployment and health industry ecosystem worldwide.”

Intel

Asha Keddy, Vice President and General Manager Next Generation and Standards, Intel: “As the world prepares for 5G network deployments later this year, Intel is proud to have worked alongside our industrial partners to complete the standalone (SA) 5G new radio (NR) specification. This new air interface is another major step in our journey to power this first wave of 5G.  Intel, with our end to end network, cloud and client focus, and our partners are reimagining the network to deliver a true convergence of computing and communications.”

InterDigital

Dr. Robert DiFazio, Vice President, InterDigital Labs: “The completion of the 5G NR standalone specification and indeed all the new technologies that will make up 5G are the culmination of many years of work from all the companies and hundreds of engineers at 3GPP, and InterDigital is proud to have worked alongside them. InterDigital has been committed to playing a leading role in mobile industry standards across multiple generations of wireless, and we are excited to continue contributing our best technology as 5G deploys and brings amazing connectivity and economic opportunity throughout the world.”

Keysight Technologies

Satish Dhanasekaran, senior vice president of Keysight Technologies, and president of the Communications Solutions Group (CSG): “We are excited to enable the industry at a threshold of 5G acceleration and commercialization. The completion of the standalone (SA) 5G new radio (NR) specification marks a distinct milestone and offers a playbook for a connected ecosystem to move forward, in making 5G a reality and unlocking huge potential for society. Keysight’s is engaged with market leaders, contributions to the 3GPP standardization development and providing scalable 5G test and measurement solutions all the way from L1 to L7.”

KDDI

Mr. Yoshiaki Uchida, Senior Managing Executive Officer, Director of KDDI, said: “We are proud to have played a part in completion of 5G standardization as one of the leaderships of 3GPP TSG. With this successful completion of the 5G NR specification, KDDI will continue our collaboration with various business partners and prepare for the commercial 5G service launch in 2020.”

KT

Dr. Hongbeom Jeon, Executive Vice President and Head of KT’s Infra Lab., said: “Ever since our successful 5G trial at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February, we have sought to elevate 5G standards in 3GPP to a higher level of excellence. KT greatly appreciates the timely establishment of the full 5G specifications and will continue to lead the global efforts for the coming commercial launch of 5G.”

KYOCERA

Masahiko Inagaki, Senior Executive Officer, General Manager of Corporate R&D Group at Kyocera said: “The completion of the 5G NR SA specification marks a key turning point in the evolution of the next generation of wireless technology. Kyocera believes the new technology will fundamentally change the efficiency of network resource utilization, deployment flexibility and support of various applications with different QoS requirements such as IoT and V2X, some of which require high efficiency, ultra-reliable, low latency operations.”

Lenovo

Dr. Yong Rui, CTO&SVP of Lenovo Group, said: “The 5G has arrived at one of its key milestones, namely, the 5G NR SA specs has just been released in the 3GPP Plenary. The game-changing 5G has extremely broad implications for the telecommunications as well as many other industries that affect the most exciting and promising fields of the modern society for years to come. Lenovo has been working closely with key industry partners like China Mobile to accelerate the commercialization of 5G technologies to bring their full benefits to both our consumers and clients.”

LG Electronics

“LG is proud to be one of the key contributors toward the timely and successful completion of the 5G Phase-1 standard including 5G NR Stand Alone specifications, an important milestone to extend the application of 5G technologies to diverse deployment environments and emerging vertical sectors,” said Dr. I.P. Park, Chief Technology Officer of LG Electronics. “We are ready to deliver 5G-based intelligent mobile products and convergence services to worldwide markets and look forward to making significant contributions to the evolution of 5G standards.”

LG Uplus

Joosik Choi, executive vice president and Head of 5G Strategy Planning, said: “We would like to thank to 3GPP and all companies for great effort on 5G SA NR standard, Release 15. Based on this standard, LG Uplus is preparing for the successful deployment and commercialization of 5G in 2019. We will contribute to the continued development of 5G NR.”

MediaTek

MediaTek Senior Vice President Cheng-Te Chuang said: “The completion of standalone 5G NR specifications is another remarkable milestone in the progress of 5G and the goal of full coverage 5G SA networks. MediaTek is deeply involved in the standardization of 5G core technologies. With the completion of both SA and NSA specifications, MediaTek’s commercial-ready 5G chipset is getting mature and MediaTek will be one of the first-tier suppliers in 5G commercial markets.”

Mitsubishi Electric

Dr. Takashi Nishimura, executive officer in charge of Communication Systems Group, said: “It is our great pleasure to be a member of the group that has created a new 5G standard. Mitsubishi Electric wishes to contribute to the realization of a prosperous society that simultaneously achieves “sustainability” and “safety, security and comfort”, making the best use of the strengths of our existing businesses as well as the opportunities presented by this recently developed 5G standard.”

NEC

Atsuo Kawamura, Executive Vice President and Head of the Network Service Business Unit at NEC, said: “NEC is proud to have contributed to the completion of 5G NR standardization. This is a significant milestone towards successful commercialization of 5G, which will enable new value and services through its secure and intelligent technologies. Going forward, NEC will continue to develop and provide innovative 5G solutions for society that enable advanced communications and a diversified range of sophisticated services.”

Nokia

Marcus Weldon, President of Bell Labs and Corporate Chief Technology Officer, Nokia, said: “Nokia is proud to have played a significant role in achieving this milestone with excellent global industry cooperation. This milestone connects the 5G radio (NR) to the new 5G Core Network, in line with Nokia’s Future X vision. It enables exciting possibilities for the digital transformation that 5G will bring us for a connected world. A whole new horizon is available to create a digital economy with vertical industries beyond mobile broadband. Nokia will continue to leverage our unique 5G E2E capabilities and bring this vision into reality together with industry partners.”

NTT DOCOMO

Dr. Hiroshi Nakamura, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, NTT DOCOMO said: “I’m very glad that the first release of 5G specifications has been completed. This completion is the starting point of sustainable 5G development and expansion of 5G global ecosystem by leveraging unified NSA and SA. NTT DOCOMO has been collaborating with many partners across various industries to co-create 5G services through activities such as ‘DOCOMO 5G Open Partner Program’ and ‘DOCOMO 5G Open Labs’. We believe that the completion of the specifications will accelerate open innovation that will bring about solutions to social issues and new style creation for richer future for all. NTT DOCOMO will continue the collaborative effort aiming to spark the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

OPPO

Levin Liu, VP of OPPO & Director of OPPO Research Center, said, “The completion of 5G Standalone (SA) specifications marks the milestone where 5G NR truly becomes a complete system and thus is able to take full advantage of its high speed, low latency features. OPPO is willing to cooperate closely with China Mobile and other operator partners to provide richer and unprecedented user experience to end-users globally by introducing 5G capable devices at the earliest time.”

Orange

Arnaud Vamparys, SVP Radio Networks in Orange, said: “Orange welcomes the successful development of this new 5G standard release. This ensures more flexibility and freedom for our future 5G roll-outs, enabling 5G autonomous deployment, depending on each country’s specific context and corresponding strategy.”

Panasonic

Yoshiyuki Miyabe, the Senior Managing Executive Officer and CTO, Panasonic, said: “Panasonic is pleased this set for the 5G NR standard has been completed. 5G can be used not only for enhancement of voice and visual communication but also for new services such as IoT and autonomous driving, which ultimately contribute to resolving social issues. We would like to contribute to achieving ‘A Better Life, A Better World’ using 5G.”

Qualcomm Technologies

“We are proud to have worked with our industry counterparts in 3GPP RAN as well as in 3GPP CT and SA to achieve this milestone of including standalone 5G NR operation as part of the 5G global standard,” said Cristiano Amon, President, Qualcomm. “In addition to our leadership in developing and contributing new ideas and directions to 3GPP, Qualcomm Technologies is putting tremendous effort into making NR commercial through our 3GPP 5G NR spec compliant prototypes and interoperability testing and with the development of 5G NR modem chipsets which support both NSA and SA operation. We will continue to work with the industry to drive the evolution of 5G technologies as well as the worldwide commercialization of both SA and NSA 5G networks and mobile devices.”

Rohde-Schwarz

Mr. Andreas Pauly, EVP of R&S and head of Test and Measurement division said: “This is an important step of 5G development. In the process of 5G industrialization, Standardization is the cornerstone while test provides assurance. As a leading wireless test vendor, R&S participated in all stages of 5G standard development, and cooperated with industry chain partners to complete all 5G trial test. With formal freeze on 5G NR SA standard, R&S intensifies close work with all partners in 5G new technology and various 5G application fields, provides innovative test solutions to meet 5G challenges, and contributes to the prosperity of future 5G industry.”

Samsung Electronics

Seunghwan Cho, Executive Vice President of Samsung Research, said: “We are very pleased to see the completion of the first release of 5G standard. Samsung has pioneered breakthrough technologies for 5G and has been actively collaborating with key partners to achieve this milestone. We will continue our efforts for the commercial success of 5G and deliver a new level of mobile experience to everyone’s life.”

Sharp

Yoshiro Nakano, BU President, Mobile Communication BU at Sharp said: “I’m delighted that 3GPP has completed their work on global 5G specifications today. Utilizing the 5G standards, SHARP will accelerate development of innovative technologies, such as “8K” (ultra-high-definition imaging) and “AIoT” (people-oriented IoT), aiming to contribute to people’s rich lives and a sustainable society.”

SK Telecom

“It is a significant step that enables new levels of mobile innovation with 5G technology by taking full advantage of new 5G NR and 5GC features. We are proud to be one of the key contributors of this important milestone,” said Jinhyo Park, EVP, Head of ICT R&D Division, SK Telecom, “Timely completion of the 5G NR SA standard will encourage operators to quickly move towards 5G commercialization. We truly look forward to taking the first step in the 5G commercialization and keeping the momentum with all 5G ecosystem players.”

SoftBank

Junichi Miyakawa, Representative Director & CTO of SoftBank, said: “SoftBank would like to express our gratitude to the leading companies for the timely completion of 5G standardization in 3GPP. In 2020s, everything will be connected to the internet, guiding us to greater revolution than ever. SoftBank has a huge expectation toward the upcoming 5G era, and is willing to lead the whole industry to accelerate the commercialization of 5G.”

Sony Mobile Communications

Hidehiko Teshirogi, Director, EVP, Sony Mobile Communications, said: “Sony has been part of the 5G NR and SA standardization and recognizes the progress in 3GPP to reach the completion of the SA 5G NR specifications. Sony Mobile is ready for full-scale development of 5G NR smartphones to take benefit of the opportunities offered by the new standard.”

Spirent Communications

“Delivery of the standalone 5G NR specifications is a milestone for the industry,” said Wright Nigel, EVP Global Sales, Spirent Communications, “As a test solution provider, Spirent will continue to work with the industry to reduce the complexity and cost of 5G testing, and accelerate innovation and time to revenue for new 5G-enabled services. Spirent will continue the close cooperation with our industry partners that will help to bring forward the implementation of 5G commercial deployment worldwide.”

StarPoint

“Congratulations to 3GPP for successfully completing Rel-15 5G SA standard”, said Professor Zhang Ping, founder of StarPoint, “This is a pivotal milestone of 5G commercialization, which will profoundly change the way we live for many years to come. As a world leading mobile testing solution provider, StarPoint is proud of having played a part of this process and will continue to work closely with our partners and the whole ecosystem to ensure that our 5G testing solutions always meet what the industry requires.”

Sumitomo Electric Industries

Toshiaki Kakii, Managing Executive Officer of Sumitomo Electric Industries, said: “As a global leading manufacturer of infocommunication devices and infocommunication/automotive network systems, we are pleased that the first release of the 5G NR specification has been completed and are proud to be a member of the 5G NR pioneers. Sumitomo Electric will continue developing advanced products to support the introduction of 5G NR commercial devices and networks.”

TIM

Enrico Bagnasco, Head of Technology Innovation of TIM, said: “The timely delivery of Rel 15 is another big step forward in the adoption of 5G to expand the footprint of the current mobile network into new market segments. We at TIM are particularly proud to have contributed with the 3GPP family for this achievement. The availability of a full set of NSA and SA standards will open several options for the deployment of the new technology, boosting a new generation of devices.”

Unisoc

Mr. Jingming Wang, Chief Operation Officer of Unisoc, said: “The 5G SA mode can decently reveal the technical advances of 5G. It will extensively fulfill the technical needs of intelligent transformation of global society in the coming 5G era. The prompt finalization of 3GPP R15 consolidates the standard foundation for the successful commercialization of 5G in year 2020, aiming at which the 1st generation 5G terminal chip from Unisoc is under developing with full power.”

Verizon

Ed Chan, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Architect of Verizon, said: “I applaud 3GPP’s completion of Release 15 including the Standalone NR System specifications. This milestone mirrors our active contributions and collaboration in industry standards and our continued leadership in 5G with our vendor partners, like the creation of  Verizon 5G Technical Forum with key industry players in 2015 to accelerate the pace of 5G innovation.  Earlier this month, Verizon marked two important industry firsts in 5G development: the successful completion of outdoor data sessions based on the 3GPP NR standard and the successful completion of multi-carrier aggregation, boosting the signals into the gigabit range.  The pair of successes, based on 3GPP’s NR standard and Verizon’s 28GHz millimeter wave spectrum, proved the exciting potential of 5G technologies. It demonstrated the transmission of multiple live interactive virtual reality (VR) sessions with a latency of 1.5 milliseconds and simultaneous 4K streaming video.  We are working with our industry partners in leading the 5G fixed wireless and enhanced mobile broadband deployments.  Verizon believes 3GPP’s standardization of 5G technologies will further help us build the future as we embark into a new era of services for our customers.”

VIAVI

Ian Langley, SVP and GM at VIAVI, said, “The completion of the first-phase full-featured 5G NR standardization work is an exciting news for the entire wireless communications industry. Since the 3G era, VIAVI test solutions have been dedicated to helping the industry accelerate the development and deployment of next-generation mobile and broadband services. VIAVI will accelerate the development of TM500 test instruments supporting the 5G SA and provide comprehensive support for the development and verification of 5G network infrastructure.”

Vivo

Yujian Shi, SVP and CTO of vivo, said: “To provide better user experience in 5G, we joined 3GPP and made lots of technical contributions on 5G SA&NSA. We appreciate the great efforts made by thousands of telecommunication experts to accelerate the 5G standards. Vivo are stepping up the 5G smart phone R&D and strive to release 5G SA smartphone in 2019.”

Vodafone

Luke Ibbetson, Head of Vodafone Group R&D said “This is another important step towards being able to realise the full potential of 5G as we look ahead to the next decade of mobile innovation. This adds further capability to the 5G family of technologies including 5G NR, LTE evolution and LPWA.”

Xiaomi

Mr. Wang Xiang, the senior VP of Xiaomi, said: “Xiaomi always adheres to the concept of “Let everyone in the world to enjoy the fun of science and technology.” With this concept in mind, we have been actively participating in the 5G standardization. 5G will provide a broader platform and market for industrial applications. By making full use of the advantages of its ecological system and 5G technology, Xiaomi will continue to make contributions to the development of 5G industrial applications.”

ZTE

Mr. Zhang Jianguo, Senior Vice President of ZTE, said: “The complete Phase-I 5G standard published on schedule has embodied collective wisdom and painstaking efforts of operators and industrial partners, and will definitely accelerate the global 5G industrial process. A more open, agile, and smart high-speed full-connectivity era is coming in the blink of an eye. The development of enterprises and industrial applications will benefit the whole society. ZTE will continue to work together with industrial partners to make a contribution to global digital development.”