3GPP to delay 5G standard updates amid COVID-19 outbreak

As per the latest update on 3GPP, the association is delaying its work on two critical updates to the 5G/NR standard due to COVID-19 outbreak. 3GPP had pushed up the initial 5G standard release to start the mmWave/sub-6 5G hardware deployments across the world. But many important details were left unresolved pending future standardization meetings. So, it’s currently unclear how this decision will actually impact 5G rollouts.

Current 5G deployments are based on Release 15, the initial 5G standard that still relies on legacy 4G network as backbone (NSA – Non-Standalone 5G service). Release 16 covers phase-2 of 5G systems, which is supposed to focus on SA – Standlone 5G service for overall speed improvements. It also includes standards for vehicle-to-everything (V2X) and industrial massive IoT deployments. Also, the future Release-17 is supposed to specifications for 5G wearables and much faster network performance.

End-users have been able to experience early speeds of 5G on smartphones. However, it’s Release-16 which is supposed to kick off their actual 5G deployments. 3GPP is continuing its work on the remote basis with online meetings being conducted in coming weeks. A report says, the upcoming release has been delayed by three months.

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