5G from 3GPP: Release 17

Further 5G system enhancements are set to follow in Release 17, scheduled for delivery in 2021. R17 defines “Strong Radio Evolution”.

3GPP Release 17 Summary

3GPP 5G Release 17 R17

5G Release 17 Technology:

For Release-17 work in RAN1, RAN2, and RAN3: defines physical layer, radio protocol and radio architecture enhancements. The physical layer work in RAN1 will start at the beginning of next year, whilst radio protocol and architecture work in RAN2 and RAN3, respectively, will start in the 2nd quarter.

Physical layer enhancements (RAN1)

RAN1 will start working on several features that continue to be important for overall efficiency and performance of 5G NR: MIMO, Spectrum Sharing enhancements, UE Power Saving and Coverage Enhancements. RAN1 will also undertake the necessary study and specification work to enhance the physical layer to support frequency bands beyond 52.6GHz, all the way up until 71 GHz. The summary figure below shows the Release-17 content for RAN1 with the planned RAN1 time allocations (TU) in each quarter.

RAN1 3GPP R17

Radio protocol enhancements (RAN2)

In RAN2, the work starts in the second quarter of 2020. The necessary protocol enhancements for the newly added physical layer driven features will be added. The summary figure below shows the Release-17 content for RAN2 with the planned RAN2 time allocations (TU) in each quarter – note that these allocations may be revised at RAN#87 in March.

RAN2 3GPP R17

Radio architecture enhancements (RAN3)

In RAN3, Release 17 will also start in the 2nd quarter of 2020. Architecture support will be added to all necessary RAN1- and RAN2-led features. The summary figure below shows the Release-17 content for RAN3 with the planned RAN3 time allocations (TU) in each quarter.

3GPP R17 RAN3 Release 17

RAN3 will also address the QoE needs of 5G NR, initially starting with a study to understand how different the QoE function would need to be compared to what was specified for LTE.

The radio architecture of 5G NR is substantially more versatile than LTE through the split of gNB: Control- and Userplane split, as well as the split of Centralized Unit and Distributed Unit. RAN3 will now add support for CP-UP split to LTE to so that LTE networks can also take advantage of some of the advanced radio architecture functions of 5G.

3GPP R17 Summary

Release 17 is perhaps the most versatile release in 3GPP history in terms of content. Still, the scope of each feature was carefully crafted so that the planned timelines can be met despite the large number of new features. As RAN Chairman I have the utmost confidence that the Working Groups will be able to deliver the specifications for all the planned functionality within the designated timeline.

5G Release 17 standards work

5G Release 17 is considered “Work in Progress” for definition.

July 3, 2020 Update:
Discussions at TSG#88-e Plenaries identified that the Rel-17 dates are at risk of being delayed. This is due to switch from physical meetings to e-meetings. In SP-200606, the Work Plan manager noted that both SA2 for Stage 2 work (SP-200536) and TSG RAN (RP-201257) had warned that Rel-17 dates will have to be shifted. This will be further discussed in Sept 2020, during TSG#89-e.

At TSG#87e (March, 2020) the following Rel-17 timeline was agreed:

Rel-17 Stage 3 freeze September 2021
Rel-17 ASN.1 and OpenAPI specification freeze: December 2021

3GPP 5G Release 17

December 2019 Update:
At the December Plenaries, TSG RAN#86 meeting had outlined its ambitious schedule in the ‘Release 17 package for RAN’ presentation, which contains slides on the time to be spent (Time Units) on RAN features for Rel-17. In the light of the latest decision – In March – Here are the 3GPP RAN milestones as a consequence of the cancellation of WG and TSG face-to-face meetings.

5G 3GPP Release 17 R17

5G-NR Radios supporting Release 17

We offer a full range of Base Station gNodeB radios supporting 5G-NR with 5G-SA and 5G-NSA modes, with versions operating in all the defined 5G bands

Please note, content including diagrams is (C) 3GPP

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5G from 3GPP: Release 16

5G technology received updates with “Release 16” (R16) from the 3GPP
At the TSG#88e Plenary meeting on July 3, 2020 – Release 16 was completed with both the Stage 3 freeze and the ASN.1 and OpenAPI specification freeze being approved.

3GPP Release 16 Summary

5G 3GPP Release 16 R16 5G-SA Satellite Access Integrated Access and Backhaul

5G Release 16

Release 16 is a major release for the project, not least because it brings the IMT-2020 submission for an initial full 3GPP 5G system to completion .

Work has progressed on around 25 Release 16 studies, on a variety of topics: Multimedia Priority Service, Vehicle-to-everything (V2X) application layer services, 5G satellite access, Local Area Network support in 5G, wireless and wireline convergence for 5G, terminal positioning and location, communications in vertical domains and network automation and novel radio techniques. Further items being studied include security, codecs and streaming services, Local Area Network interworking, network slicing and the IoT.

Technical Reports (the result of the study phase) have also been developed on broadening the applicability of 3GPP technology to non-terrestrial radio access (initially satellites, but airborne base stations are also to be considered) and to maritime aspects (intra-ship, ship-to-shore and ship-to-ship). Work also progresses on new PMR functionality for LTE, enhancing the railway-oriented services originally developed using GSM radio technology that is now nearing end of life.

Part of R16, MC services are extended to address a wider business sector than the initial rather narrow public security and civil defence services for which they had originally been developed. If the same or similar standards can be used for commercial applications (from taxi dispatching to railway traffic management, and other vertical sector scenarios currently being investigated), this would bring enhanced reliability to those MC services through wider deployment, and reduced deployment costs due to economies of scale to the benefit of all users.

5G Release 16 3GPP

5G-NR Radios supporting Release 16

We offer a full range of Base Station gNodeB radios supporting 5G-NR with 5G-SA and 5G-NSA modes, with versions operating in all the defined 5G bands

Please note, content including diagrams is (C) 3GPP

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5G from 3GPP: Release 15

5G technology starts with “Release 15” (R15) from the 3GPP

The initial delivery of ‘Non-Stand-Alone’ (NSA) NR new radio specifications for 5G in late 2017 . Following this, 3GPP effort focused in 2018 on completion of 3GPP Release 15. Release 15 represents the first full set of 5G standards passing the first milestones for the 3GPP submission towards IMT-2020.

3GPP Release 15 Summary

3GPP 5G Release 15 R15 Specification Summary 5G-NR LTE enhancements

5G Specifications

Initial specifications enabled non-standalone 5G radio systems integrated in previous-generation LTE network. The scope of Release 15 expands to cover ‘standalone’ 5G, with a new radio system complemented by a next-generation core network. It also embraces enhancements to LTE and, implicitly, the Evolved Packet Core (EPC). This crucial way-point enables vendors to progress rapidly with chip design and initial network implementation during 2019.

Release 15 has matured and drawn close to completion. The group’s focus is now shifting on to the first stage of Release 16, often referred to informally as ‘5G R15Phase 2’. By the end of the year, 83 studies relating to Release 16 plus a further thirteen relating to Rel-17 were in progress, covering topics as diverse as Multimedia Priority Service, Vehicle-to- everything (V2X) application layer services, 5G satellite access, Local Area Network support in 5G, wireless and wireline convergence for 5G, terminal positioning and location, communications in vertical domains and network automation and novel radio techniques. Further studies were launched or progressed on security, codecs and streaming services, LAN interworking, network slicing and the IoT.

Other activities focused on broadening the applicability of 3GPP technology to non-terrestrial radio access systems – from satellites and airborne base stations to maritime applications including ship-to-shore and ship-to-ship communications. Work also progressed on new Professional Mobile Radio (PMR) functionality for LTE, enhancing railway-oriented services originally developed using GSM radio technology which is now nearing its end of life.

5G-NR Radios supporting Release 15

We offer a full range of Base Station gNodeB radios supporting 5G-NR with 5G-SA and 5G-NSA modes, with versions operating in all the defined 5G bands

Please note, content including diagrams is (C) 3GPP

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CPRI Interfaces for 5G Base Stations

What is CPRI ?

The Common Public Radio Interface (CPRI) standard defines the interface of 5G base stations between the Radio Equipment Controllers (REC) in the standard, to local or remote radio units, known as Radio Equipment (RE) or Remote Radio Heads (RRH).

CPRI Line Rates & Applications

For Cellular 3G/4G/LTE/5G operators, “Front Haul” links using CPRI are offered which allows remote positioning of the base station antennas, enhancing coverage and increasing flexibility of network deployment.

CableFree 5G Remote Radio Head (RRH) with CPRI Interface
CableFree 5G LTE RRH with CPRI Fibre Optic Interfaces

Connecting Remote Radio Heads

A remote radio head is a remote radio transceiver that connects to an operator radio control panel via electrical or wireless interface.

In wireless system technologies such as GSM, CDMA, UMTS, LTE this Radio equipment is remote to the BTS/NodeB/eNodeB, and is also called Remote Radio Head. These equipment will be used to extend the coverage of a BTS/NodeB/eNodeB like rural areas or tunnels. They are generally connected to the BTS/NodeB/eNodeB via a fiber optic cable using Common Public Radio Interface protocols.

Remote radio heads (RRHs) have become one of the most important subsystems of today’s new distributed base stations. The remote radio head contains the base station’s RF circuitry plus analog-to-digital/digital-to-analog converters and up/down converters. RRHs also have operation and management processing capabilities and a standardized optical interface to connect to the rest of the base station. This will be increasingly true as LTE and 5G are deployed. Remote radio heads make MIMO operation easier; they increase a base station’s efficiency and facilitate easier physical location for gap coverage problems.

CPRI bit rates Supported

The CPRI standard allows for different bit rates.  These are easy to achieve over fibre optics with today’s technology.  However over wireless links, the capacity is more limited due to available spectrum, link margins, atmospherics and technology limits.  The following are defined for CPRI:

CPRI Line RateLine Bit
Rate
Line
Coding
Bits per
word
Transport
capacity
(#WCDMA
AxC)
Transport
capacity
(#20 MHz
LTE AxC)
Rate-10.6144 Gbps8B/10B84
Rate-21.2288 Gbps8B/10B1681
Rate-32.4576 Gbps8B/10B32162
Rate-43.0720 Gbps8B/10B40202
Rate-54.9152 Gbps8B/10B64324
Rate-66.1440 Gbps8B/10B80405
Rate-7A8.1100 Gbps64B/66B128648
Rate-79.8304 Gbps8B/10B128648
Rate-810.1376 Gbps64B/66B1608010
Rate-912.1651 Gbps64B/66B1929612
Rate-1024.3302 Gbps64B/66B38419224

CPRI transports I/Q data of particular antenna and particular carrier. This “unit” is called an AxC unit or Antenna-Carrier unit.
Example:
In LTE system, if I=16 bits and Q=16 bits
then one AxC is of length 32 bits.

CPRI Front-Haul over Wireless

CableFree has pioneered Front-haul of CPRI over wireless links. Wireless Point to Point links are faster to deploy than fibre optics, and lower latency. Today’s MMW links offer up to 4x10Gbps which can carry 4 complete 10Gbps data streams in parallel to a given site.

CPRI over CableFree MMW Links for 5G Applications
CableFree MMW Links with CPRI for Front-Haul 5G Applications
CableFree Free Space Optics for CPRI Front-Haul 5G Applications
CableFree FSO with CPRI for Front-Haul 5G Applications

Note that generally bit rate options 1,2,3 are available over MMW, and 1,2 over FSO today.  These can be “aggregated” using 2+0 and higher (4+0, etc) links to provide higher capacities, for example where more LTE sectors are required.
Continuing Advances in MMW and FSO transmission will enable transport of higher CPRI line rates up to 10Gbps and higher for example

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Private 5G: Build your own 5G network

5G networks can boost wireless connection speeds by a factor of 10 and may replace wired broadband. Here we explain the benefits of building a Private 5G Network:

What is 5G?

5Gradio : CableFree 5G SA
5G Wireless Network

5G wireless is an umbrella term to describe a set of standards and technologies for a radically faster wireless internet that ideally is up to 20 times faster with 120 times less latency than 4G, setting the stage for IoT networking advances and support for new high-bandwidth applications.

5G and 4G are marketing words used to describe the standards set by the 3GPP for mobile wireless communications technology

Building Private 5G Networks: What is involved ?

Private 5G Network

Originally, 5G was designed for large-scale carrier networks to cover entire countries.  More recently, two factors have enabled the rise of Private 5G networks:  firstly, a range of compact, stand-alone and designed-for-purpose 5G systems, and secondly, the availability of easy-access spectrum including the unlicensed 5GHz band – are now available to enable organisations to implement wireless networks for mission-critical automation and mobility applications.

Private 5G solutions make it possible for private organizations to deploy and operate high-performance, on-premises private wireless networks, without requiring access to licensed spectrum, yet still benefit from the performance and global ecosystem of 5G technology. This is attractive across a wide range of enterprise applications, particularly where in-house control, mission-critical reliability, multi-service capability, mobility and security are needed.

What is Private 5G?

CableFree Baseband Unit (BBU) for Private 5G
CableFree Baseband Unit (BBU) for Private 5G

Globally, most 5G networks  are public – serving both public or enterprise subscribers from operator-owned networks. A 5G network is considered to be private when its main purpose is to connect people/things belonging to an enterprise (normally across a campus or site), and where data needs to be kept totally secure by avoiding transmitting it through the core network of a mobile operator.  Full private ownership of the whole LTE network – including Base Stations and Core – has several advantages.

Major Benefits of Private 5G

CableFree Private 5G Base Station RRH
CableFree 5G-NR Remote Radio Head (RRH)

The many benefits of a Private 5G network can include:

  • Guaranteeing coverage and capacity in the target coverage area. Organisations can design, engineer and update the RAN to meet their specific performance demands, including for coverage, configuring uplink and downlink, set usage policy, determine which users connect, how traffic is prioritised, and other key parameters.
  • Optimising parameters in the 5G radio to operate in challenging physical environments (e.g., warehouse or oil/gas facility with lots of metal). This can include fast recovery from failure, or optimizations for reliability, and for latency. This is not possible when connecting to a public network, where such parameters are under control of the operator, not the user.
  • Retaining control of critical data: In private networks, the organization controls its own security and can ensure that sensitive information does not leave the network; this is an essential requirement for many types of businesses and security-focused organisations. Another benefit of keeping data and the core network on the private 5G network is the risk of service disruption due to a WAN link outage is eliminated.
  • Dedicated coverage and capacity of high speed 4G network with the ability to customise performance to enterprise needs
  • High speed, high capacity, reliable and secure mobile broadband communication layer for mission-critical and business-critical people, machines and applications
  • A fast route to digital transformation and IoT, bringing intelligent insights for more efficient operation, agility, quality and innovation
  • LTE mobility – the use of advanced applications on mobile platforms (vehicles, robots, etc) and transparent hand-over to public 5G networks outside of private 5G network coverage
  • In mining and minerals, private 5G can be used to automate remote facilities and enhance security
  • Enabling IoT applications which can run over a Private 5G network

Availability of 5G Spectrum

CableFree-Multefire-5GHz-Unlicensed-LTE

In terms of spectrum, owners of private 5G deployments can choose to use from:

  • Shared-access 3.5 GHz band (i.e., Citizens Broadband Radio Service, or CBRS) in the USA
  • 5 GHz unlicensed band globally (using Unlicensed LTE, also known as MulteFire)
  • Licensed bands if available from national government regulators: some regions are available for ISPs or for networks for specific applications (Safety, Law Enforcement, Energy Utilities)

Early examples of private 5G networks were typically deployed in licensed spectrum with permission from the regulator or partner mobile operator, the availability of open access spectrum in combination with built-for-purpose, interoperable equipment, makes it easier for organizations to deploy and operate a private 5G network.

Licensed and Unlicensed:  Where there is choice, organisations can decide whether to deploy with unlicensed 5GHz, or licensed band operation.  Some organisations, especially Government, Security, Energy & Utilities can get access to spectrum to run private 5G Networks.

CableFree-5G-logo

4G, 5G and Beyond

An organisation deploying Private LTE can choose vendor equipment with roadmap that suits them; quality modern equipment such as CableFree includes Software Defined Radio and Software Defined Networking with easy roadmap to 5G and beyond.  The upgrade cycle of software and/or hardware can be under the user’s control, and meet demands for coverage, capacity, applications and network features.

5G network speed vs 4G

With every new generation of wireless technology, the biggest appeal is increased speed. 5G networks have potential peak download speeds of 20 Gbps, with 10 Gbps being seen as typical. That’s faster than current 4G networks, which currently top out at around 1 Gbps, and also faster than cable internet connections that deliver broadband to many people’s homes. 5G offers network speeds that rival optical-fiber connections.

Raw speed alone isn’t 5G’s only important improvement; it also features a huge reduction in network latency. That’s an important distinction: throughput measures how long it would take to download a large file, while latency is determined by network bottlenecks and delays that slow down responses in back-and-forth communication.

Latency can be difficult to quantify because it varies based on many network conditions, but 5G networks are capable of latency rates that are less than a millisecond in ideal conditions. Overall, 5G latency will be lower than 4G’s by a factor of 60 to 120. That will make possible a number of applications such as virtual reality that delay makes impractical today.

Product Availability

CableFree Cat6 to Cat12 Desktop LTE CPE
CableFree Cat12 Desktop LTE CPE

CableFree 5G solutions for Private 5G networks are available in all 5G bands from 450MHz up to 5925MHz, including licensed and unlicensed bands.  CableFree offers 5G-NSA and 5G-SA solutions, with Small Cell and Macro Cell products in licensed spectrum, or 5GHz MulteFire and CBRS small cells that allow enterprises and other professional organisations to deploy their own private 5G networks in Licensed and Open-Access Spectrum.  In addition to gNodeB 5G Base Stations, CableFree offers core network, customised private SIM cards and CPE devices to build complete “Stand alone” 5G solutions.

Acknowledgements: the 5G logo is (C) 3GPP and Multefire logo is (C) the Multefire Alliance

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What is 5G? How is it better than 4G?

CableFree 5G Wireless Network

5G networks can boost wireless connection speeds by a factor of 10 and may replace wired broadband. But what are the challenges faced by 5G, compared to 4G technology?

What is 5G?

What is 5G ?
CableFree 4G vs 5G Wireless Network
5G Wireless Network

5G wireless is an umbrella term to describe a set of standards and technologies for a radically faster wireless internet that ideally is up to 20 times faster with 120 times less latency than 4G, setting the stage for IoT networking advances and support for new high-bandwidth applications.

5G and 4G are marketing words used to describe the standards set by the 3GPP for mobile wireless communications technology

5G network speed vs 4G

With every new generation of wireless technology, the biggest appeal is increased speed. 5G networks have potential peak download speeds of 20 Gbps, with 10 Gbps being seen as typical. That’s faster than current 4G networks, which currently top out at around 1 Gbps, and also faster than cable internet connections that deliver broadband to many people’s homes. 5G offers network speeds that rival optical-fiber connections.

Raw speed alone isn’t 5G’s only important improvement; it also features a huge reduction in network latency. That’s an important distinction: throughput measures how long it would take to download a large file, while latency is determined by network bottlenecks and delays that slow down responses in back-and-forth communication.

Latency can be difficult to quantify because it varies based on many network conditions, but 5G networks are capable of latency rates that are less than a millisecond in ideal conditions. Overall, 5G latency will be lower than 4G’s by a factor of 60 to 120. That will make possible a number of applications such as virtual reality that delay makes impractical today.

5G technology

The technology underpinnings of 5G are defined by a series of standards that have been in the works for the better part of a decade. One of the most important of these is 5G New Radio, or 5G NR, formalized by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project, a standards organization that develops protocols for mobile telephony. 5G NR will dictate many of the ways in which consumer 5G devices will operate, and was finalized in June of 2018.

A number of individual technologies have come together to make the speed and latency improvements of 5G possible, and below are some of the most important.

Millimeter waves

5G networks in the USA currently use frequencies in the 30 to 300 GHz range. (Wavelengths at these frequencies are between 1 and 10 millimeters, thus the name.) This high-frequency band can carry much more information per unit of time than the lower-frequency signals currently used by 4G LTE, which is generally below 1 GHz, or Wi-Fi, which tops out at 6 GHz.

Millimeter-wave technology has traditionally been expensive and difficult to deploy, and operate over much shorter distances than lower-frequency 5G bands. Technical advances have overcome those difficulties, which is part of what’s made 5G possible today.

Initial 5G deployments in the USA have focused on Millimeter waves (mmWave), compared to Sub-6GHz 5G deployments in Europe, Middle East and some other early 5G markets

Small cells

One drawback of millimeter wave transmission is that it’s more prone to disruption than Wi-Fi or 4G signals: the high frequency signals don’t pass through solid objects such as brick walls, metal and concrete.

To overcome this, the model for 5G infrastructure will be different from 4G’s. Instead of the large cellular-antenna masts we’ve come to accept as part of the landscape, 5G networks will be powered by much smaller base stations spread throughout cities about 250 meters apart, creating cells of service that are also smaller.

These 5G Small Cell base stations have lower power requirements than those for 4G and can be attached to buildings and utility poles more easily.

Massive MIMO

Despite 5G base stations being much smaller than their 4G counterparts, they pack in many more antennas. These antennas are multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO), meaning that they can handle multiple two-way conversations over the same data signal simultaneously. 5G networks can handle more than 20 times more conversations in this way than 4G networks.

Massive MIMO promises to radically improve on base station capacity limits, allowing individual base stations to have conversations with many more devices. This in particular is why 5G may drive wider adoption of IoT. In theory, a lot more internet-connected wireless gadgets will be able to be deployed in the same space without overwhelming the network.

Beamforming

Ensuring all these signals go back and forth to the right places is tricky, especially with the challenges millimeter-wave signals have with signal obstructions and distance limitations. To overcome those issues, 5G stations deploy advanced beamforming techniques, which use constructive and destructive radio interference to make signals directional rather than broadcast. That effectively boosts signal strength and range in a particular direction.

5G-network services availability

The first commercial 5G network was rolled out in Qatar in May 2018. Since then, networks have been popping up across the world, from Argentina to Vietnam.

One thing to keep in mind, though, is that not all 5G networks deliver on all the technology’s promises yet. Almost all early 5G offerings piggyback on existing 4G infrastructure (Non-Standalone, NSA mode), which reduces the potential speed gains; other services dubbed 5G for marketing purposes don’t even comply with the standard. Later on, Standalone (SA) mode 5G will become available.

What about 6G? Why talk about 6G already?

Some experts say 5G won’t be able to meet the latency and reliability targets it is aiming for. These skeptics are already looking ahead to 6G, which they say will try to address these projected shortcomings.

Some groups researching new technologies that can be included into 6G include The Center for Converged TeraHertz Communications and Sensing (ComSenTer). Part of the specifications they are working on calls for 100Gbps speed for every device.

In addition to adding reliability, overcoming reliability and boosting speed, 6G is also trying to enable thousands of simultaneous connections. If successful, this feature could help to network IoT devices, which can be deployed in the thousands as sensors in a variety of industrial settings.

Even in its embryonic form, 6G may already be facing security concerns due to the emergence of newly discovered potential for man-in-the-middle attacks in tera-hertz based networks. The good news is that there’s plenty of time to find solutions to the problem. 6G networks aren’t expected to start rolling out until 2030.

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