Busting a Myth: 3GPP Roadmap to true 5G (IMT 2020) vs AT&T “standards-based 5G” in Austin, TX

TRUTH about 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) and the path to 5G Standards:

3GPP is a very honest, focused and effective engineering organization that develops technical specifications – not standards.  Not once has 3GPP contributed to the hype and spin embedded in  “5G” propaganda and fake news.  It is the 3GPP  member companies, service providers, and the press that’s guilty of that disinformation campaign.

From the 3GPP website under the heading Official Publications:

The 3GPP Technical Specifications and Technical Reports have, in themselves, no legal standing. They only become “official” when transposed into corresponding publications of the Partner Organizations (or the national / regional standards body acting as publisher for the Partner). At this point, the specifications are referred to as UMTS within ETSI and FOMA within ARIB/TTC.

Some TRs (mainly those with numbers of the form xx.8xx) are not intended for publication, but are retained as internal working documents of 3GPP. Once a Release is frozen (see definition in 3GPP TR 21.900), its specifications are published by the Partners.

All of the above and more were explained in this blog post, but apparently no one paid any attention as the claims of being compliant with “3GPP standards” abound.  Here are two from AT&T:

1.  After the 3GPP New Radio (NR) description/specification was completed in 3GPP Release 15:

“We’re proud to see the completion of this set of standards. Reaching this milestone enables the next phase of equipment availability and movement to interoperability testing and early 5G availability,” said Hank Kafka, VP Access Architecture and Analytics at AT&T. “It showcases the dedication and leadership of the industry participants in 3GPP to follow through on accelerating standards to allow for faster technology deployments,” he added.

2. In AT&Ts recent FCC application for an experimental radio license in Austin, TX, which is in this FCC filing:

3GPP has developed 5G standards that became available in 2018.”

That statement was echoed in a Light Reading blog post titled: AT&T to Show Off Standards-Based 5G in Austin.

My rebuttal in an email to AT&T executives included this paragraph:

As you should be very well aware, 3GPP specifications have no official status and are not standards (as per their website).  More importantly, 3GPPs “final 5G” spec will be in release 16 which won’t be completed till July 2019.  Release 16 and parts of Release 15 will then be submitted for consideration as an IMT 2020 Radio Interface Technology (RIT) at the July 2019 ITU-R WP5D meeting- the first meeting which will evaluate IMT 2020 RIT/SRITs.  All this info and much more is available at the 3GPP website with no log in required for access!
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Here’s the actual status of 3GPP specs directed at 5G standards (IMT 2020) from 3GPP’s Submission of initial 5G description for IMT-2020:

IMT submissions

This document December 2017 version of 3GPP Release 15) is the first of three planned steps spanning two releases from 3GPP, following the decision to submit preliminary descriptions of the solution only when milestones of high relevance are achieved:

  • Release 15 December 2017 version;
  • Release 15 June 2018 version and
  • Release 16  (scheduled for July 2019)

The final and fully comprehensive 3GPP IMT-2020 submission (encompassing both Release 15 and Release 16) for IMT 2020 is planned for July 2019.

To help the ITU-R Evaluation Groups in their work, 3GPP is currently planning a workshop to present the 5G solutions to interested external bodies – specifically the Evaluation Groups – to allow a better understanding of the 3GPP technologies for 5G.

3GPP has agreed to organize a Workshop on 3GPP submission towards IMT-2020in October 2018. Some details are provided below:
•           Dates/Location:
–     October 24-25th, 2018;
–     Location: Brussels (European Commission facilities).
•           Target audience:
–     Independent Evaluation Groups, Regulators, Administrations, Industry Sectors interested in using 3GPP technologies.
•           Scope:
–     Present/describe the 3GPP IMT-2020 submission proposal
•           High level agenda/topics:
–     Specific technical features of the “5G” proposal
–     Submission templates
–     Self-Evaluation assumptions/results
–     Anticipations on the final submission with Rel. 15 and Rel. 16 contents
–     Overview of System Aspects

Here’s a free 3GPP webinar where you can get more information:

http://www.3gpp.org/news-events/3gpp-news/1966-webinar2_ran

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Comment from Kevin Flynn of 3GPP, which was inadvertently deleted when this website was move to a new compute server in early May 2019:

Kevin Flynn says:

Hi Alan,
I have now updated the 3GPP page on Official Publications (http://www.3gpp.org/specifications/63-official-publications), referenced above. I hope that this does not undermine your excellent article in any way. I have updated the Partners & their web sites and modified the text to bring it up-to-date.

Thanks & best regards,
Kevin Flynn
3GPP Marketing Officer

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Debunking the 5G carrier and vendor claims:

As we’ve repeatedly stated, ITU-R WP 5D is the official standards organization for IMT 2020 (5G mobile).  They will evaluate RIT/SRIT submissions at their July 2019 meeting.  To date, 3GPP, South Korea, China, ETSI/DECT Forum, and TDSI have all indicated their intent to submit detailed RIT/SRIT proposals at the July 2019 ITU-R WP 5D meeting.  There are significant differences amongst these proposed RITs which WP 5D must sort out and approve before the IMT 2020 standard is completed at the end of 2020.

Note also that there is NO IMT 2020 USE CASE FOR 5G FIXED WIRELESS ACCESS (FWA), so all claims about standards compliant 5G FWA (based on 3GPP release 155G NR – Non Stand Alone” are bogus/fake.

Non Stand Alone” (NSA) 5G NR means that a 4G-LTE network anchors the 5G NR access (see comments below this post).  That LTE network is used for control plane signaling and for the Evolved Packet Core (EPC).  In 5G NR NSA access, the LTE base station (eNB) and the 5G NR base station are interconnected with dual connectivity. The IMT 2020 standard will include a 5G packet core without any LTE components.

In addition to the IMT 2020 specified  (by ITU-R) packet core there is the transport network for 5G, which is described in this ITU-T Technical Report (TR).  There are fronthaul, midhaul and backhaul components described in that TR.  It is a work in progress.

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AT&T to test “standards based 5G” at the Austin, TX Convention Center:

The FCC has just granted AT&T an experimental radio license to test what the mega carrier calls “standards-based 5G” in the convention center in Austin, Texas.  The test will begin at the end of July.   AT&T will run “up to 3” 28GHz fixed base stations in the convention center with connections to “up to 6” compatible user devices at up to 100 meters. AT&T promises demonstrations of 4K TV, volumetric video and eSports, as well mobile gaming, over the air, and more.

Indeed, Austin has been a hotbed for AT&T’s 5G developments. In February, the company announced plans to open a new 5G lab there. One of the first in-house projects built at the lab is the Advanced 5G NR Testbed System (ANTS), which AT&T describes as a first-of-its kind 5G testbed system that is proprietary to AT&T.

AT&T said in January 2018 that it plans to launch 3GPP release 15 based mobile 5G in up to 12 markets by the end of the year.  The mega carrier (and now via Time Warner acquisition an entertainment content company) has been using special events around the country to showcase its 5G technology.

In early June, AT&T staged its Shape conference at Time Warner’s Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, California, where it showed presentations on edge technologies, artificial intelligence and immersive entertainment, as well as a 5G demonstration with Ericsson and Intel.

At the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles, AT&T conducted a 28 GHz demo to give gamers an up-close look at how a 5G connection can give them a live gaming experience virtually anywhere there’s network coverage. That demo also involved Ericsson, Intel and ESL.

Also in June, there was the 2018 5G demo at the  U.S. Open, which took place at the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Tuckahoe, New York. Ericsson, Intel and Fox Sports were also participated in that demo.

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Here are a few recent IEEE techblog posts related to AT&T’s 5G initiatives:
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9 thoughts on “Busting a Myth: 3GPP Roadmap to true 5G (IMT 2020) vs AT&T “standards-based 5G” in Austin, TX

  1. 5G Update from 3GPP via ETSI Magaine:

    At the 80th Plenary of the project, 3GPP has approved the completion of the ‘standalone’ version of the 5G NR
    specifications, following up on the ‘non-standalone’ completion in December 2017, for combined LTE and NR operation. The 5G standalone system has great significance, promising a broad expansion of services based on the new radio and on 5G core network capabilities, which are sure to attract new industries in 3GPP into this technology stream.
    Release 16 priorities are still evolving, but the focus will now turn to massive machine type communications and the delivery of ultra-reliable and low latency communications (URLLC), which – combined with the enhanced broadband speeds provided by the 5G radio – will deliver full-blown 5G.
    https://www.etsi.org/images/files/Magazine/Enjoy_ETSI_mag_July_2018.pdf

  2. 5G New Radio (5G NR), release 15 reallocates some existing LTE bands and introduces new mmWave bands up to 40 GHz. While initial 5G devices will implement some type of point-to-point wireless link, smartphone manufacturers are already planning the introduction of their products that contain multiple radios. Adding yet another radio adds new coexistence challenges that designers must address.

    5G NR mid-band (1 GHz to 6 GHz) and high-band (above 24 GHz) operate in the same or in adjacent spectrum to other wireless communications systems. With devices covering multiple bands, there is increased risk for sideband interference or new shared spectrum issues. 5G NR devices will need to operate adjacent to or even in the same spectrum as existing wireless communications systems without causing interference. Designers of 5G chipsets and components need to know the different types of coexistence interference issues, where coexistence interference is likely to occur, and how to test for coexistence interference.

    There are many types of coexistence interference, but two primary issues require new coexistence testing. The first involves testing in-band and out-of-band emissions and testing the impact of the 5G NR emissions on other radio signals. These tests are important because you must ensure that a 5G radio doesn’t cause interference with other radios in the device, with other radios signals in the channel, or with signals in an adjacent spectrum. Such testing is similar to 4G coexistence issues, but the increasing number of radios in a device and the increasing number operating bands where 5G NR will operate will compound the problem.

    Second, because a goal of 5G is to improve data throughput, shared spectrum will be a key feature in 5G. To operate simultaneously in a shared environment, new procedures and protocols must be developed to ensure successful operation in the environment. At the highest level, these policies specify that devices must listen before they talk. Specifically, a device needs to detect coexistence traffic and allocate or reallocate spectrum dynamically based on what it hears. This presents potential quality of service issues (QoS) issues for device users caused by latencies while the radio switches channels. This will require special tests not previously done on cellular devices.

    https://www.edn.com/design/test-and-measurement/4460926/Coexistence-Issues–Coming-to-5G-New-Radio

  3. Guidance offered by Mr. Francois Rancy, as a Director of the ITU Radiocommunication Bureau (ITU-R) in his opening remarks to the 19 November, 2018 ITU-R Study Group 5 meeting where he expressed the following views on IMT-2020:

    “Beyond WRC-19, I would like to stress the importance of the work of the Study Group for IMT-2020 telecommunications. Of course the work of the world conference is essential to provide harmonized spectrum, but in addition to that, the work of the standards in my mind is essential to ensure all those economies of scale for hopefully one standard and interoperability and roaming throughout the world.

    And if we want to build the global village which is the ambition of the ITU, we need to try to converge on a single standard harmonized worldwide to ensure. Not all parts of the world can be connected especially in the 50% population which currently is yet to be connected and to be able to do that we need to rely on the world’s globally harmonized standard. So thanks for your efforts.

    We have to keep in mind that investments for 5G will probably represent something like 10,000 billion dollars worldwide and when you are in this type of amount of money you can’t afford to have two standards, you can’t afford to divide the world into two incompatible types of devices. So this is really the challenge that Study Group 5 and Working Party 5D have to meet and I’m sure you are aware of the importance of these discussions…”

    Webcast of SG 5 meeting: https://www.itu.int/webcast/archive2/r2015-19sg5#video

  4. 3GPP Release 16, when completed (early 2020?), will have the ultra low latency included. It is NOT available in any so called “5G” networks till then! So don’t expect ultra low latency on any “5G” smartphone for several years. Note also that 1 way latency is the cumulative delay through: the access network, mobile packet core, and edge network at the service provider point of presence. It is NOT just the access network (e.g. 5G NR transmission).

    Title: Study on physical layer enhancements for NR ultra-reliable and low latency case (URLLC)
    Status: Draft
    Type: Technical specification (TS)
    Initial planned Release: Release 16

    The follow key use cases were identified to be considered:
    – Release 15 enabled use case improvements
    – Such as AR/VR (Entertainment industry)
    – New Release 16 use cases with higher requirements
    – Factory automation
    – Transport Industry, including the remote driving use case
    – Electrical Power Distribution

    https://portal.3gpp.org/desktopmodules/Specifications/SpecificationDetails.aspx?specificationId=3498

  5. 3GPP Release 16 may be delayed till March 2020 as per the March 20, 2019 3GPP meeting just completed. That might delay their ITU-R WP 5D IMT 2020 RIT submission, which would push back the following WP 5D schedule by several months:

    The following table provides the schedule of the planned major deliverables of ITU-R WP 5D:
    Date Meeting Anticipated Milestones

    July 2019 Brazil WP 5D #32
    • Finalize draft new Report ITU-R M.[IMT.1 452-1 492 MHz]
    • Consider further work regarding new Recommendation ITU-R M.[MT.3300 MHz FSS]
    • Progress draft new Report ITU-R M.[IMT.EXPERIENCES]
    • Finalize revision of Recommendation ITU-R M.1036
    • Finalize draft new Report ITU-R M.[IMT.MS/MSS.2GHz]
    • Update/Finalize draft new Report/Recommendation ITU-R M.[IMT.1518 MHz COEXISTENCE]
    • Finalize draft new Report/Recommendation ITU-R M.[IMT.3300 MHz RLS]
    • Finalize Doc. IMT-2020/YYY Input Submissions Summary
    • Finalize revision of Recommendation M.2012
    • Finalize Addendum 4 to Circular Letter IMT 2020
    • Finalize draft new Question ITU-R [IMT.Specific industrial applications]/5
    • Finalize draft revisions to existing ITU-R Resolutions, Questions and Opinion

    December 2019 Geneva WP 5D #33 (max 4 day meeting)
    • Focus meeting on evaluation – review of external activities in Independent Evaluation groups through interim evaluation reports
    • Workshop on evaluation of IMT-2020 terrestrial radio interfaces
    February 2020 [TBD] WP 5D #34 • Finalize Doc. IMT-2020/ZZZ Evaluation Reports Summary
    • Finalize Doc. IMT-2020/VVV Process and use of GCS
    • Finalize Addendum 5 to Circular Letter IMT 2020
    • Finalize draft new Report M.[IMT.AAS]
    • Finalize draft new Report ITU-R M.[HAPS-IMT]

    June 2020 [TBD] WP 5D #35
    • Finalize draft new Report ITU-R M.[IMT-2020.OUTCOME]
    • Finalize Addendum 6 to Circular Letter IMT 2020

    October 2020 [TBD] WP 5D #36
    • Finalize draft new Recommendation ITU-R M.[IMT 2020.SPECS]
    • Finalize Addendum 7 to Circular Letter IMT 2020

  6. I spent a great deal of time to find something such as your IEEE techblog which provides a true and accurate assessment of current communications technologies and markets

  7. 3GPP Release16: New NR bands
    Band number Uplink frequency Downlink frequency duplex mode REL-indep. from
    n48 3550 MHz – 3700 MHz 3550 MHz – 3700 MHz TDD Rel-15
    n65 1920 MHz – 2010 MHz 2110 MHz – 2200 MHz FDD Rel-15

  8. 3GPP Release 16 Planning and Status as of 19-22 March 2019 Shenzhen, China meeting:

    Release 16 (aka “5G phase 2”) Freezes:
    June 2018: “Content Definition of Rel-16” and identification of RAN-SA areas of coordination
    Dec 2018 (TSG#82): Stage 1
    June 2019: Stage 2
    Dec 2019: RAN1
    Dec 2019: Stage 3 (CT’s view: to be shifted to Mar 2020)
    Mar 2020: RAN2 and RAN3
    June 2020: ASN-1
    Sep 2020: RAN4
    …………………………………………………………………………………………
    List of Rel-16 Features which stage 1 have been defined by SA1:

    -Service requirements for cyber-physical control applications in vertical domains
    -LAN support in 5G
    -5G message service
    -Improvement of V2X service Handling
    -5G positioning services
    -Integration of Satellite Access in 5G
    -Maritime Communication Services over 3GPP System
    -Enhancement of LTE for Efficient delivery of Streaming Service
    -User Identities and Authentication
    -Multi-device and multi-identity
    -Business Role Models for Network Slicing
    -New Services and Markets Technology Enablers – Phase 2
    -5G Voice Service Continuity
    -Enhancements to IMS for new real time communication services
    -Policy delivery to UE for background data transfer
    -QoS Monitoring
    -Inter-RAT Mobility requirements for real time service
    ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
    3GPP Release 16 areas requiring RAN-SA Coordination or Alignment:

    FS_5G_URLLC, FS_Vertical_LAN, cyberCAV Enhancement of URLLC supporting in 5G, 5GS Enhanced support of Vertical and LAN Services eURLLC, NR-U, Industrial IoT? Coordination needed
    FS_eV2XARC Architecture enhancements for support of advanced V2X services NR V2X Coordination needed
    FS_eLCS,
    5G_HYPOS Study on Enhancement to the 5GC location services, New WID on 5G positioning services NR Positioning
    Coordination needed
    FS_RACS UE capability signalling optimization UE Capabilities Coordination needed
    FS_5GSAT_ARCH Study on using Satellite Access in 5G NTN Coordination needed
    FS_CIoT_5G Study on Cellular IoT support and evolution for the 5G System NBIoT, LTE-M Alignment as needed
    FS_eNA Enablers for Network Automation Architecture for 5G RAN-centric Data Connection? Alignment as needed
    FS_5WWC Study on the Wireless and Wireline Convergence Enhancement for the 5G system architecture None Alignment as needed

  9. July 2019 Update from ATIS (U.S. rep for 3GPP in ITU-R WP 5D) on 3GPP Release 16: LIAISON STATEMENT FROM 3GPP PROPONENT REGARDING IMT-2020 TRANSPOSITION TIMINGS IN STEP 8 OF IMT-2020 PROCESS

    3GPP asks WP 5D in this liaison if WP 5D could review its year-end 2020 schedule for IMT-2020 to provide some additional time for the provision of the transposed standards URL references to ITU-R for finalization of the new Recommendation ITU-R M.[IMT-2020.SPECS].

    Adjustment to the 3GPP Release 16 Schedule:
    In RAN Plenary #82, 3GPP amended the development schedule for 5G Release 16 to better reflect the complexities of the technology specifications development work. This was done in order to properly facilitate the sequencing of work between 3GPP RAN working groups for overall specification stability. Annex 1 shows this amended Release 16 schedule.

    Global Core Specification (GCS) for IMT-2020 process Step 8:
    3GPP plans to use the June 2020 specification output from the 3GPP Plenaries. In particular, the output of RAN #88 (15-18 June 2020), when Release 16 ASN.1 freeze milestone is concluded, will be the primary basis of the IMT-2020 separate GCSs that correspond to the 3GPP submissions of the NR RIT (Releases 15 & 16) and the LTE/NR SRIT (Releases 15 & 16)2. These specifications will establish the primary basis of the Global Core Specification (GCS) that the 3GPP GCS Proponent will provide to ITU-R WP 5D in time for the WP 5D Meeting #35 (24 June -1 July 2020). This is in anticipation of the detailed ITU-R schedule for IMT-2020 Step 8.
    The approved June 2020 version of the 3GPP specifications will be used by the 3GPP Transposing Organizations (TOs) for their individual standards transpositions, and for the creation of the relevant URL references to be provided to ITU-R for inclusion in the draft new Recommendation under Step 8 of the IMT-2020 process. It is expected that the published versions of the specifications from the June 2020 Plenary will be available to the Organizational Partners (OPs) by 6 July 2020 to initiate their transposition work.

    Anticipation of Schedules:
    While the normal detailed sequencing schedule used in IMT technology Recommendations for IMT-2020 Step 8 has not yet been communicated officially (via liaison) to the External Organizations by WP 5D, the 3GPP TOs have considered the usual milestones of the IMT process in their work planning analysis, assisted by consultations with the ITU-R WP 5D Chairman and the Chair of the WP 5D Work Plan Ad Hoc group.
    Based on a typical schedule for the URL references for ITU-R IMT technology Recommendations, the URL references for IMT-2020 need to be supplied by the TOs to ITU-R approximately 30 days ahead of the planned WP 5D Meeting #36 (7-14 October 2020). This lead time is needed in order for the Radiocommunication Bureau to compile all the TOs’ references and tables into the final draft version for all technologies included in Step 8 in time for WP 5D Meeting #36. The deadline for these URL references and related information to be sent to the Radiocommunication Bureau by the TOs would thusly be expected to be planned for 7 September 2020 by the ITU-R. WP 5D will conclude the draft Recommendation ITU-R M.[IMT-2020.SPECS] in its Meeting #36 and forward it to ITU-R Study Group 5 for initiating final ITU-R approval.
    …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
    3GPP notes that with the complexities of 5G as a new generation of technology and the importance of the new Recommendation ITU-R M.[IMT-2020.SPECS] globally for all stakeholders (including support for the results of WRC-19), any additional time afforded to the External Organizations in Step 8 for provision of the URL references would be of great benefit to all the radio interface technology proponents, not just 3GPP.
    3GPP welcomes any accommodation WP 5D might make concerning the scheduling of the work to conclude the first release of Recommendation ITU-R M.[IMT-2020.SPECS] and kindly asks for feedback to 3GPP from that discussion.
    ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
    Annex 1. 3GPP has agreed revised completion dates for Release 16 – schedule shifted out by 3 months:
    Release 16 RAN-1 Freeze RAN # 86 December 2019
    Release 16 RAN Stage 3 Freeze RAN # 87 March 2020
    Release 16 ASN.1 Freeze RAN # 88 June 2020
    Release 16 RAN-4 Freeze RAN # 89 September 2020
    ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
    Submitted on behalf of the 3GPP Proponent of the 3GPP submission, which is collectively the 3GPP Organizational Partners (OPs). The 3GPP OPs are ARIB, ATIS, CCSA, ETSI, TSDSI, TTA and TTC (http://www.3gpp.org/partners).

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