A 5G deployment spanning continents, networking companies, technology giants, and mobile carriers has been signalled as the non-standalone (NSA) 5G New Radio (NR) specs under release 15 have been approved by standards body 3GPP.
"NSA 5G NR specs were approved today at RAN#78. Balazs Bertenyi, RAN chair, called it 'an impressive achievement in a remarkably short time, with credit due particularly to the working groups'," 3GPP said in a tweet.
Following the approval -- which occurred during Radio Access Network (RAN) meeting 78 in Lisbon, Portugal -- Huawei, Ericsson, Intel, Nokia, Samsung, AT&T, BT, China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, Fujitsu, KT Corporation, LG Electronics, LG Uplus, MediaTek, NEC Corporation, NTT DoCoMo, Orange, Qualcomm, SK Telecom, Sony Mobile Communications, Sprint, TIM, Telefonica, Telia Company, T-Mobile USA, Verizon, Vodafone, and ZTE announced that the global mobile industry can begin the full-scale development of 5G NR including large-scale trials and commercial deployment.
"Today the 3GPP TSG RAN Plenary Meeting in Lisbon successfully completed the first implementable 5G New Radio (NR) specification," the companies said in a joint media release.
"This standard completion is an essential milestone to enable cost-effective and full-scale development of 5G NR, which will greatly enhance the capabilities of 3GPP systems, as well as facilitate the creation of vertical market opportunities."
Vodafone R&D head Luke Ibbetson pointed out that the standard was set six months earlier than originally anticipated.
President of Huawei's 5G product line Yang Chaobin said Phase 1 of the 3GPP 5G NR standardisation was completed "with great progress" thanks to collaboration between regulatory agencies, governments, research organisations, academia, and industry.
"Huawei will keep working with global partners to bring 5G into the period of large-scale global commercial deployment from 2018," he said.
China Telecom EVP Liu Guiqing said the carrier would be looking to launch field trials in many Chinese major cities during 2018; KT CTO Dongmyun Lee committed to "bring full-scale services of the true 5G standards to commercial market as early as 2019"; China Mobile EVP Zhengmao Li is eyeing 2020; NTT DoCoMo CTO Dr Hiroshi Nakamura said the Japanese carrier would launch NSA 5G services by 2020; and SK Telecom EVP Jinhyo Park said the Korean telco would bring 5G into early commercial service in 2019.
Deutsche Telekom CTO Bruno Jacobfeuerborn said it is now "crucial that the industry now redoubles its focus on the standalone mode to achieve progress towards a full 5G system, so we can bring key 5G innovations such as network slicing to our customers".
Intel vice president and general manager of Next Generation and Standards Asha Keddy said Intel would continue supplying its 5G mobile trial platform and 5G modems to enable industry to run 5G trials, while Samsung Electronics head of IT and Mobile Communications Division at Samsung Electronics DJ Koh said Samsung would expedite its commercial 5G chipsets, devices, and network equipment.
"When that vote happens, that's really the green light for the ecosystem to start moving to a commercial deployment of 5G," Rob Topol, general manager of 5G Business and Technology for Intel globally, told ZDNet.
"We start building chips, Telstra starts placing their infrastructure orders, and they start building out their networks, and the point is that this is a great emphasis on Australia because when that vote happens, it is a pretty momentous or monumental point for 5G, because it's now the beginning of 5G becoming a commercial platform.
"But the study items have been worked on over the last year, and will continue to be worked on until September."
Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung, and Huawei have all been included in the government's 5G working group, which will meet twice yearly with five government departments.
Magnolia Market in Waco will be one of the biggest testbeds for AT&T's 5G network, with the carrier looking to expand to additional Texan businesses, homes, churches, and education facilities.
Ericsson will provide RAN, baseband, multi-standard radios, and software and hardware solutions over the next five years to prepare and support Deutsche Telekom's 5G mobile network.
Ericsson will be providing the core network, radio access network, and transport services for Verizon's commercial 5G networks to be deployed next year and launched in 2019.