It says finalising Option 4 will speed the launch of 5G services and make better use of network assets.
The Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) Alliance has published a White Paper urging the finalisation of Option 4 for 5G architecture “to support the full realisation of 5G”
The evolution to 5G Standalone (SA) from the inital Non-Standalone (NSA) phase ushers in the new 5G core network and transfers the master radio interface technology from LTE to New Radio (NR) technology.
Option 4 will allow "advanced 5G SA" users to access both NR and LTE spectrum, in parallel, in the lower frequency bands to support wider coverage when it is beneficial to do so, according to the Alliance.
It will ensure the most cost- and spectrum-efficient use of the network as well as speed the launch of new 5G-enabled services, it adds.
Without Option 4 the Alliance says the danger is that new 5G SA users will sometimes receive lower data rates than Non-Standalone (NSA) 5G and LTE-only users.
“Development completion of Option 4 is urgently needed to enable all operators to invest in a new 5G core network without compromising user data rate performance.
“Advanced 5G users using 5G Standalone should be able to access LTE on top of NR for a seamless service experience,” said Arash Ashouriha, Chairman of the NGMN Alliance.
Raimund Walsdorf, Technology Architecture & Innovation Access & Home Networks, Deutsche Telekom and NGMN project lead said, “Option 4 development will support many network operators planning an initial 5G Standalone service launch today or a more widespread launch in the future.
"This option benefits operators to more efficiently migrate spectrum from LTE to NR, while also relaxing the pressure on operators to re-farm from LTE to NR as long as spectrum remains dedicated to LTE”.
Trial this year
The White Paper is from an ongoing NGMN project which aims to conduct a trial of Option 4 this year to encourage the development of it within the 5G ecosystem. NGNM is seeking support from network and terminal suppliers to progress the trial.
After a successful trial, it is hoped that 5G SA can be introduced in all networks in a timely manner.