This week we are attending the RAN#78 Plenary in Lisbon, Portugal.  SRG has attended 3GPP meetings since the 5G standardization work started in late 2015 and we’ve been a member company of 3GPP since 2016.  Given the importance of this meeting w.r.t. the anticipated completion and acceptance of Option 3 NSA as an early drop of the Release 15 specification, we decided to issue a very quick Signals Flash, based on where things stand at this time.  Following the completion of the entire Plenary, we will publish a far more detailed synopsis in our Signals Ahead series of reports.

It’s Approved.  It should come as no surprise that 3GPP approved the set of specifications which define the Non-Standalone (NSA) architecture option, which leverages the LTE and NR air interfaces, as well as the existing LTE core network (EPC), since the writing was on the wall back in March when 3GPP initially established the goal.

It Ain’t Over Yet. There is a huge difference between having approved specifications and approved specification which are complete and consistent with each other.  There is also the matter of the ASN.1 freeze, with a scheduled completion date of March 2018 (as originally planned).

What is in and What is Out. The big remaining decisions include what is in and what is out for Release 15 functionality, not to mention Release 16 study items.  Work will soon resume on the SA portion of Release 15 with the complete set of Release 15 functionality determined in March – completed in June.  No new NR Study Items are likely until June, suggesting Release 16 NR functionality and enhancements will be thin to keep to the current schedule.