The 5G Evolution: 3GPP Releases 16-17

The 5G Evolution: 3GPP Releases 16-17 highlights new features in 5G that will define the next phase of 5G network deployments across the globe. 

According to data from Ovum, there were approximately five million 5G subscriptions at the end of 2019a number forecast to increase to 1.9 billion by 2024.  Additionally, the number of IoT connections is expected to quadruple from one billion to over four billion during the same time frame.  

Chris Pearson, President of 5G Americas said, “The age of smartly connecting everything is here. The rapid increase in 5G-connected devices will be largely due to increased technical capabilities of networks and devices standardized by 3GPP for commercial roll outs.”  

Since 1998, the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPPhas fostered the wireless ecosystem by creating standards for cellular technologies aimed at connecting virtually every mobile device and networkNew features and specifications are packaged into new releases, with Releases 15-17 forming the underlying foundation for 5G commercial deployments. 

Work on 5G standards started in 2015, with initial Release 15 specifications finalized in 2018 to address three families of use cases of Enhanced Mobile Broadband, Massive Machine to Machine Communications and Ultra Reliable and Low Latency Critical Communications. It laid the groundwork for the fifth generation of mobile networks by providing the reference network architecture for Massive Machine-Type Communications (MTC) and Internet of Things (IoT), Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) enhancements, Mission-Critical connectivity with legacy systems, wide-area and unlicensed spectrum support, Networking Slicing, API connectivity for 3rd party access to 5G services and the introduction of Service-Based Architecture.    

The 5G Evolution: 3GPP Releases 16-17 white paper highlights specific updates in Releases 16-17. Release 16 is an evolutionary development that will positively impact multiple industries and is expected to be finalized in March 2020. Release 17 provides additional improved radio flexibility and will be 3GPP’s focus in 2020 and 2021 with target standard finalization in July 2021.

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