The 3GPP RAN working group has agreed on an intermediate milestone for non-standalone 5G New Radio (NR) standards to allow earlier testing of 5G mobile broadband use cases.
The standard, now set to be finalised by March 2018, uses LTE as a base for coverage and management while using 5G NR carriers to boost data rates and lower latency.
The milestone should enable 3GPP-based trials and deployments of 5G as early as 2019.
The group also reinstated a commitment to complete the standalone 5G NR mode, which does not require an LTE backbone, by 2018 and create a plan for doing so.
These decisions come ahead of the IMT-2020 conference in 2020, which will determine the official specifications for 5G. 3GPP, which created the standards for 3G and 4G, will submit the standard technology.
The previous project plan for 5G NR has been to allow standard-compliant 5G NR deployment around 2020.
The decision was made at the RAN Plenary Meeting in Dubrovnik, Croatia.
Members of the 3GPP RAN group include operators such as BT, Deutsche Telekom, Swisscom, Telecom Italia, Telefónica and Vodafone as well as networking vendors including Nokia, Ericsson, Huawei and ZTE.
It also includes device and component makers such as Apple, LG Electronics, Samsung, Sony and Qualcomm.
At the same conference, Nokia’s Balázs Bertényi was appointed RAN Chairman of standards body 3GPP as it looks towards 5G