3GPP during a plenary meeting last week in Sorrento, Italy, decided to shift the delivery schedule for the next wave of 5G specifications by three months, but group leader Balazs Bertenyi explained that the move won’t impact early 5G deployments.
The functional freeze schedule for the Release 15 ‘late drop,’ which includes additional migration architectures to help transition from LTE to the 5G core, has been delayed until March 2019 with ASN.1 freeze now slated for June.
“It is important to note, though, that this shift does not in any way impact the first 5G deployments,” Bertenyi, chairman 3GPP TSG RAN, wrote in a blog post explaining the freeze schedule adjustment. “The compatibility of devices and networks used for the first deployments are not impacted.”
3GPP continues to fix “bugs” in the standalone 5G NR specification that was frozen in September, and in response to industry interest 3GPP has recently made a point of trying to explain the efforts and process of correcting and refining the 5G NR specifications. That included a blog post in late November aimed at addressing concerns around interoperability and backwards compatibility of the September version of NR specifications, which initial 5G deployments will largely be based on, and changes in earlier versions.
AT&T has said it will light up standards-based mobile 5G service in 12 markets before the end of the year, which is quickly approaching. Verizon, meanwhile, launched its fixed wireless 5G home broadband service in four cities in October based on to operator’s 5G TF network standard. Verizon has said it will upgrade to 3GPP 5G NR standard-compliant equipment as it becomes available.
“Over the course of 2018 3GPP RAN has put extreme focus on ensuring the stability and compatibility of these specification that are to be used for the first 5G deployments,” Bertenyi wrote. “As a consequence, work on components for the ‘late drop’ that address additional architecture options to aid migration from LTE to 5G have been slightly delayed. Hence the freeze schedule for the Release 15 late drop was shifted by 3 months.”