In mid-December 2017, the 3GPP Technical Specifications Group is expected to release a detailed workplan for the non-standalone 5G NR specification. However, the 3GPP will not complete the entire Release 15 specifications until June 2018.
The 5G New Radio (NR) specification was fast-tracked because several operators and vendors asked the 3GPP to do so in order the speed the deployment of 5G. Among those operators and vendors were AT&T, which has long been a proponent for the early release of the standard so that it could deploy standardized gear. Other operators in favor of the accelerated timeline included Sprint, Telstra, BT, Deutsche Telekom, KDDI, Korea Telecom, LG Uplus, SK Telecom, and Vodafone. Vendors backing the proposal included Ericsson, Qualcomm, Huawei, Intel, and ZTE.
The 3GPP standards body started working on the standardization of 5G New Radio in early 2016. The standard will continue to evolve, as future releases add further features and functionality.
5G New Radio Trials
Many U.S. vendors are taking part in testing and trials of 5G NR hardware.
In October 2017, Verizon, Qualcomm, and Novatel Wireless announced plans to collaborate on 5G NR millimeter wave (mmWave) technology development and over-the-air field trials based on the Release 15 specifications. The companies plan to work together to help move the mobile ecosystem toward faster validation and commercialization of 5G NR mmWave technologies at scale.
In September 2017, Qualcomm and Nokia announced plans to conduct interoperability testing and over-the-air field trials for similar purposes.
Also in September, Huawei announced a collaboration with Intel on 5G NR for interoperability development trials. The companies plan to use Huawei’s 5G base station prototype and Intel’s third-generation 5G Mobile Trial Platform to test 5G NR across the sub-6 GHz spectrum band and the higher-range mmWave spectrum bands.