Executive Summary: IMT-2020.SPECS defined, submission status (?), and 3GPP’s RIT submissions (2)

Introduction – IMT-2020.SPECS:

The forthcoming ITU-R recommendation (aka standard) “IMT-2020.SPECS” identifies the terrestrial radio interface technologies of International Mobile Telecommunications-2020 (IMT-2020) and provides the detailed radio interface specifications.  This new standard will NOT include IMT 2020 non-radio aspects, such as 5G Core, Signaling, Network Slicing, Network Management/Maintenance, Security/Privacy, Fault Detection/Recovery, Codecs, etc.

This new recommendation was developed by ITU-R WP5D (aka 5D) over the last four or five years. It consists of IMT 2020 (5G) Radio Interface Technologies (RIT) and Sets of Radio Interface Technologies (SRIT).

The final IMT-2020.SPECS is expected to be approved in late November 2020 at the ITU-R SGD meeting.

IMT 2020 RIT/SRIT submission status:

IMT 2020 RIT submissions from 3GPP/China/Korea [1.], TSDSI [2], DECT/ETSI, and Nufront are all being progressed by 5D.  The latter two submissions have defined their own version of 5G New Radio (NR) as they do NOT use 3GPP’s 5G NR.

->Hence, there are potentially three different 5G NRs (as the basis for the respective RIT submission) that will be standardized in IMT-2020.SPECS if the DECT/ETSI and Nufront submissions achieve final approval from WP5D.

Note 1.  ATIS found the China and Korea IMT 2020 RIT/SRIT submissions to be technically identical to 3GPPs.

Note 2.  The TSDSI submission uses 3GPP’s 5GNR but also ADDS functional capability to support Low Mobility Large Cell (LMLC).

5D has approved the 3GPP and TSDSI RIT/SRIT submissions to be progressed to the next step at their recent e-Meeting, but there is still confusion (at least for this author) as to whether the China and Korea submissions (which were stated to be technically identical to 3GPP submissions) will also be progressed. If they are, it will pose a version change nightmare IMHO. 5D posed additional work for both DECT/ETSI and Nufront RITs before they can be progressed to the next step at 5D’s October meeting.

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Overview of IMT-2020.SPECS:

The radio interface specifications in IMT-2020.SPECS detail the feature and parameters of IMT-2020. This Recommendation indicates that IMT-2020 enables worldwide compatibility, international roaming, and access to the services under all three usage scenarios, including enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), massive machine type communications (mMTC) and ultra-reliable and low latency communications (URLLC).

The capabilities of IMT-2020 include:
– very high peak data rate;
– very high and guaranteed user experienced data rate;
– quite low air interface latency;
– quite high mobility while providing satisfactory quality of service;
– enabling massive connection in very high density scenario;
– very high energy efficiency for network and device side;
– greatly enhanced spectral efficiency;
– significantly larger area traffic capacity;
– high spectrum and bandwidth flexibility;
– ultra high reliability and good resilience capability;
– enhanced security and privacy.

These features enable IMT-2020 to address evolving user and industry needs.  The capabilities of IMT-2020 systems are being continuously enhanced in line with user and industry trends, and consistent with technology developments.

Related ITU-R references:

– Recommendation ITU-R M.1036 Frequency arrangements for implementation of the terrestrial component of International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) in the bands identified for IMT in the Radio Regulations

– Recommendation ITU-R M.2083 IMT vision -Framework and overall objectives of the future development of IMT-2020 and beyond

– Recommendation ITU-R M.1822 Framework for services supported by IMT

– Report ITU-R M.2320 Future technology trends of terrestrial IMT systems

– Report ITU-R M.2370 IMT traffic estimates for the years 2020-2030

– Report ITU-R M.2376 Technical feasibility of IMT in bands above 6 GHz

Report ITU-R M.2411 Requirements, evaluation criteria and submission templates for the development of IMT-2020

– Report ITU-R M.2410 Requirements related to technical performance for IMT-2020 radio interface(s)

– Report ITU-R M.2412 Guidelines for evaluation of radio interface technologies for IMT-2020

– Resolution ITU-R 56 Naming for International Mobile Telecommunications

– Resolution ITU-R 65 Principles for the process of development of IMT for 2020 and beyond

– Document IMT-2020/1 IMT-2020 Background 2020

– Document IMT-2020/2(Rev.2) Submission and evaluation process and consensus building for IMT-2020

– Document IMT-2020/20 Process and the use of Global Core Specification (GCS), references, and related certifications in conjunction with Recommendation ITU‑R M.IMT-[2020.SPECS]

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IMT-2020 Independent Evaluation Groups:

Under Step 4 of IMT-2020 process, candidate RITs or SRITs were evaluated by Independent Evaluation Groups (IEG) that registered with the ITU-R in conformance with the process. In this step, the candidate RITs or SRITs were assessed based on Reports ITU-R M.2411 and ITU-R M.2412.

Table 1

Index of documents related to IEG final Evaluation Reports
for the candidate technology submissions of IMT-2020 under Step 4

IMT-2020/38(Rev.1)

Summary of Step 4 of the IMT-2020 process for evaluation of IMT‑2020 candidate technology submissions

Registered
Independent Evaluation Group

Summary of IEG Evaluation Results

Based on or References IEG Contributions

Evaluation Reports History Documents

5G India Forum

IMT-2020/39(Rev.1)

5D/136 (Various)

IMT-2020/11(Rev.1)

5G Infrastructure Association

IMT-2020/40

5D/50 (3GPP)

5D/51 (DECT)

5D/52 (Nufront)

5D/53 (TSDSI)

IMT-2020/33(Rev.1)

Africa Evaluation Group

IMT-2020/41

5D/123 (DECT)

5D/124 (TSDSI)

5D/125 (Nufront)

IMT-2020/34(Rev.1)

ATIS WTSC IMT-2020

IMT-2020/42

5D/54 (document map)

5D/55 (3GPP RIT/SRIT- technical details document)

5D/56 (3GPP SRIT)

5D/57 (3GPP RIT)

5D/58 (China)

5D/59 (Korea)

5D/60 (DECT)

5D/61 (TSDSI)

IMT-2020/29(Rev.1)

Beijing National Research Center for Information Science and Technology (Bnrist EG)

IMT-2020/43(Rev.1)

5D/146 (Nufront)

IMT-2020/35

Canadian Evaluation Group

IMT-2020/44

5D/90 (Various)

IMT-2020/30(Rev.1)

ChEG Chinese Evaluation Group

IMT-2020/45

5D/69 (Various)

IMT-2020/10(Rev.2)

Chinese Industry and Research Alliance of Telecommunications (CIRAT)

IMT-2020/46

5D/129 (Nufront)

IMT-2020/36

Telecom Centres of Excellence, India

IMT-2020/47

5D/121 (3GPP)

5D/122 (TSDSI)

IMT-2020/9(Rev.2)

The Fifth Generation Mobile Communications Promotion Forum, Japan

IMT-2020/48

5D/95 (3GPP RIT)

5D/96 (3GPP SRIT)

5D/97 (Nufront)

IMT-2020/32(Rev.1)

Trans-Pacific Evaluation Group

IMT-2020/49

5D/94 (3GPP RIT & SRIT)

IMT-2020/8(Rev.2)

TTA 5G Technology Evaluation Special Project Group (TTA SPG33)

IMT-2020/50

5D/49 (3GPP RIT)

IMT-2020/31(Rev.1)

Wireless World Research Forum

IMT-2020/51

5D/120 (Nufront& TSDSI)

IMT-2020/37

The IEGs utilized the defined ITU-R evaluation methodology and criteria established in the relevant ITU-R Reports covering IMT-2020. ITU-R concluded that the IEGs had fulfilled their role in the process and that the inclusion of views from organizations external to the ITU‑R.

Considering the requirements, evaluation criteria and submission templates for the development of IMT-2020 included in Report ITU-R M.2411, the minimum requirements related to technical performance for IMT‑2020 radio interface(s) in Report ITU-R M.2410, and the guidelines for evaluation of radio interface technologies for IMT‑2020 are included in Report ITU‑R M.2412, the conclusions have been reached for each of the IMT-2020 RIT/SRITs submitted by 3GPP, China, Korea, TSDSI (India), DECT/ETSI, and Nufront.  Those detailed conclusions are beyond the scope of this article.

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Overview of 3GPP’s radio interface technologies (E-UTRA/LTE and 5G NR):

The IMT-2020 specifications known as 5G have been developed by 3GPP and consist of LTE and NR Releases 15, 16, and beyond.

In 3GPP terminology, the term Evolved-UMTS Terrestrial Radio Access (E-UTRA) is also used to signify the LTE radio interface. 5G is a Set of Radio Interface Technologies (RITs) consisting of E-UTRA/LTE as one component RIT and (5G) NR as the other component RIT. Both components are designed for operation in IMT defined spectrum.

5G fulfills all technical performance requirements in all five selected IMT-2020 test environments : Indoor Hotspot – enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), Dense Urban – eMBB, Rural – eMBB, Urban Macro – Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communication (URLLC) and Urban Macro – massive Machine Type Communication (mMTC).

5G also fulfills the service and the spectrum requirements. Both component RITs, NR and E-UTRA/LTE, utilize the frequency bands below 6 GHz identified for International Mobile Telecommunication (IMT) in the ITU Radio Regulations. In addition, the NR component RIT can also utilize the frequency bands above 6 GHz, i.e., above 24.25 GHz, identified for IMT in the ITU Radio Regulations. The complete set of standards for the terrestrial radio interface of IMT-2020 identified as 5G includes not only the key characteristics of IMT-2020 but also the additional capabilities of 5G both of which are continuing to be enhanced.

ITU-R WP5D’s conclusion on 3GPP’s 5G SRIT and 5G RIT is shown in the table below:

Radio Interface Technologies:

NAME: (3GPP 5G:1 SRIT)

Proponents (submission in):

3GPP Proponent (IMT-2020/13)2

Determination whether the RIT or SRIT meets the requirements of Res. ITU‑R 65, resolves 6 e) and f), for the five test environments comprising the three usage scenarios

YES
(Requirements met for five test environments)

Inclusion in the standardization phase described in Step 8

YES

Radio Interface Technologies:

NAME: (3GPP 5G:3 RIT)

Proponents (submission in):

3GPP Proponent (IMT-2020/14)

China (People’s Republic of) (IMT-2020/15)

Korea (Republic of) (IMT-2020/16)

Determination whether the RIT or SRIT meets the requirements of Res. ITU‑R 65, resolves 6 e) and f), for the five test environments comprising the three usage scenarios

YES
(Requirements met for five test environments)

Inclusion in the standardization phase described in Step 8

YES

1 Developed by 3GPP as 5G, Release 15 and beyond (as indicated in Documents 5D/1215 and 5D/1216)

2 The NB-IoT part of IMT-2020/15 (China) candidate technology proposal is technically identical to the specifications for the NB-IoT part of IMT-2020/13 (3GPP SRIT).

3 Developed by 3GPP as 5G, Release 15 and beyond (as indicated in Documents 5D/1215 and 5D/1217)

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The 3GPP 5G System (5GS) also includes specifications for its non-radio aspects, such as the core network elements (the Enhanced Packet Core (EPC) Network and 5G Core (5GC) Network), security, codecs, network management, etc. These non-radio specifications are not included in the so-called “Global Core Specifications (GCS)” of IMT-2020.

Support of Industry Verticals:

The E-UTRA/LTE and 5G NR component RITs from 3GPP support a diverse set of mobile broadband (eMBB) services and other so-called industry “verticals,” including URLLC, Industrial IoT, Automotive/V2X, Private Networks (NPN), and others. NR RIT supports in-band coexistence with NB-IoT and eMTC. For optimal support of specific verticals, the 5G NR RIT has been designed, or enhanced, with certain key features, or set of features.

A short summary of relevant NR RIT capabilities for a few industry verticals is provided below.

Ultra-Reliable and Low Latency Communications (URLLC) and Industrial IoT (IIoT): 

For support of Ultra-Reliable and Low Latency Communications services, some of the main features supported by the NR RIT are:
• Logical Channel Priority (LCP) restrictions
• Packet duplication with DC or CA
• New QCI table for block error rate 10*-5
• Physical layer short transmission time interval (TTI)

From 3GPP Rel-16 onwards, URLLC and Industrial IoT use cases are further facilitated by:
• NR PDCP duplication enhancements,
• Prioritization/multiplexing enhancements,
• NR Time Sensitive Communications (TSC) related enhancements,e.g. Ethernet header compression, and
• Precise time information delivery

Vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communications:

From 3GPP Rel-16, NR RIT includes support of Vehicle-to-everything (V2X), mainly by means of NR sidelink communication over the PC5 interface, partly leveraging what was defined for E-UTRA V2X sidelink communication.

Sidelink transmission and reception over the PC5 interface are supported when the UE is inside NG-RAN coverage, irrespective of which RRC state the UE is in, and when the UE is outside NG-RAN coverage.

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IMT-2020 Consensus building and decision by 5D:

– IMT-2020/15 (China) candidate technology proposal is technically identical to the IMT‑2020/14 (3GPP RIT) candidate technology proposal and NB-IoT part of IMT‑2020/13 (3GPP SRIT) candidate technology proposal;

– IMT-2020/16 (Korea) candidate technology proposal is technically identical to the IMT‑2020/14 (3GPP RIT) candidate technology proposal;

Additionally, consensus building has been performed with the objective of achieving global harmonization and having the potential for wide industry support for the radio interfaces that are developed for IMT‑2020. (?????)

As a result of the consensus building in ITU-R among the seven technology proposals, the following groupings are agreed by ITU-R:

– The SRIT proposed in IMT-2020/13 including NB-IoT part to which China (People’s Republic of) (NB-IoT part of IMT-2020/15) is technically identical, is identified in ITU as “3GPP 5G SRIT”1, developed by the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), for Step 7 and subsequent IMT-2020 development.

– The RITs proposed in IMT-2020/14, NR part of IMT-2020/15 and IMT-2020/16 are grouped into the technology identified in ITU as “3GPP 5G RIT”2, developed by the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), for Step 7 and subsequent IMT-2020 development.

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Future IEEE Techblog posts on 3GPP Rel 16 and IMT 2020:

This author has been in dialog with 3GPP leaders via the 3GPP Marketing Communications Manager to accurately assess 3GPP Rel 16 completed work items related to 5G (both radio and non-radio aspects).  In particular, we are very much interested in the 3GPP Rel 16 URLLC specification, performance simulation(s), and performance testing (not yet started).  Only after independent performance testing will we know if the URLLC test implementation meets the required performance parameters specified by 3GPP and/or Minimum requirements related to technical performance for IMT-2020 radio interface(s) [ITU M.2410].

The IEEE Techblog Editorial Team is soliciting guest blog posts related to 3GPP Rel 16 and/or issues with IMT-2020.SPECS as well as other topics listed here.

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References:

5G Specifications (3GPP), 5G Radio Standard (IMT 2020) and Standard Essential Patents

3GPP Release 16 Update: 5G Phase 2 (including URLLC) to be completed in June 2020; Mission Critical apps extended

https://techblog.comsoc.org/?q=IMT%202020#gsc.tab=0&gsc.q=IMT%202020&gsc.page=1

 

 

5G Specifications (3GPP), 5G Radio Standard (IMT 2020) and Standard Essential Patents

by Yigang Cai, PhD

Introduction:

On July 3, 2020, 3GPP (the organization that generates all the specifications for cellular networks) announced that its Release 16 (R16) specification was frozen, and thereby declared the completion of the first evolution of “5G New Radio (NR).”  As 3GPP’s specs have “no official standing,” they must be transposed by SDOs, like ITU, ETSI, ATIS, TSDSI (India), etc.  The international standard for 5G Radio aspects is known as IMT 2020.specs, which includes the Radio Interface Technology (RIT) and Set of Radio Interface Technologies (SRIT) from various proponents, including 3GPP (IMT-2020/14, and /IMT-2020/13, respectively).

3GPP R16 is the first technical specification in the history of 3GPP that was reviewed and finalized through an e-meeting (due to the COVID-19 travel and meeting restrictions). The declared R16 completion was the result of collaboration and coordination amongst many global companies, government agencies and telecom regulators.

From the 3GPP website: “Rel-16 is now officially Frozen. Rel-15 and Rel-16 constitute the basis for 5G and this is a great achievement and recommended that delegates hold a personal celebration for this.”

The complete R16 spec not only enhances the functions of 5G, but also allows 5G to enter a new digital ecosystem. It takes into account factors such as cost and efficiency, so that the basic investment in wireless communications infrastructure can play a greater role and further help the digital transformation of the social economy.  Let’s examine 3GPP’s 5G NR in the context of R15 and R16:

  • “5G NR” in R15 was frozen in 2018. It strived to produce a “usable” specification for Physical (PHY) layer transmit/receive in 5G trials/pilots and early (pre-IMT 2020 standard) 5G networks.
  • In contrast, “5G NR” in R16 will achieve an “easy to use” and more robust 5G transmit/receive capability.
    3GPP R16 is a major release for the project as noted in an earlier IEEE Techblog post. It brings the specification organization’s ITU-R WP 5D submission “IMT-2020 Radio Interface Technology/Set of Radio Interface Technologies (RIT/SRIT)” to a more complete 5G system; what 3GPP calls “5G Phase 2.”

3GPP R16 is supposed to enhance Ultra-Reliable (UR) Low Latency Communications (URLLC), support V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle) and V2I (vehicle-to-roadside unit) direct connection communications, and support 5GS Enhanced Vertical and LAN Services as reported in the earlier IEEE Techblog article.  Please refer to References below for further information. CLICK on image below to enlarge it.

URLLC is 1 of 3 use cases for 5G/IMT 2020. It is intended for mission critical, precise, accurate, always ON/never down, real time communications that require low latency in the 5G access and core networks.

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Editor’s Note: ONLY the 3GPP “5G Radio Aspects” are included in the forthcoming IMT 2020 RIT/SRIT standard, which is expected to be approved in late November 2020 by ITU-R SG D. All the non-radio aspects, such as 5G Core Network, network slicing, network management, privacy and security, etc. will NOT be part of IMT 2020. However, those declared R16 completed work items are likely to be transposed by ETSI into international standards.

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Perspective on 5G Standard Essential Patents (SEPs):

The announcement of the 3GPP R16 freeze also means the “War of SEPs (Standard Essential Patents [1.]),” i.e. those patents that are related to 5G NR standards/specifications might come to the end of a critical stage. However, it’s likely that a new SEP war will start soon. But that is a subject for another day.

Note 1.  A standard essential patent (SEP) is a patent that claims an invention that must be used to comply with a technical standard or specification to be standardized by an accredited standards development organization (SDO).

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During 5G NR specification development, industries and companies have competed in a 5G patent race and generated thousands of SEPs. A recent study, published in the IEEE Techblog, found that Huawei was the undisputed leader in 5G SEPs. Some companies tried to convince the world they are leading the SEP war. However, the news and hype about published SEPs has often misled the public.

From this author’s standards and patent experiences, there are some facts of 5G SEPs which have been neglected in the SEP war:

  • There is no one-to-one mapping between declared SEP and 5G standards feature. In fact, one standards contribution (e.g., WID, CR, WF or others in 3GPP) may be declared with one or multiple SEPs, or one SEP is declared in multiple contributions. SEP number declared does not match standards features.
  •  Many of SEP relevant standards contributions are not taken or baselined by standards bodies in standards specifications. Someone can do statistics what percentages (overall and/or per contributing company) of SEP relevant standards are agreed or approved in standards bodies.
  •  Some declared SEPs, including filed and published patents, may not be granted, or may even be rejected, after standards contributions are baselined.
  • One standards contribution may be co-authored/co-signed with multiple companies, it is very likely multiple companies filed multiple patents for the same standards contribution.

There is no doubt SEPs can accelerate 5G standards development and enhance standards feature quality. But, the war of SEPs also brings some confusions in 5G technology development, implementation, deployment and applications.

First of all, the patent war lead to industries creating numerous patents which actually may not be “essential.”  We all understand that a considerable percentage of those patents have no real value, i.e. they are not implementable or deployable and so not at all profitable.

Companies try to earn IPR revenues from SEPs and spend enormous efforts and finances focusing on creation of SEPs (for example, giving over the half of total IPR budget to SEP generation) because they probably believe licensing of granted SEPs can bring IPR revenue much quick. However, simple number of declared SEPs is much less important than innovation of critical 5G features and functions.

The 5G SEP war we have recently experienced concentrates on patent number; not patent quality. In fact, a feature critical invention can be much better and heavier than dozens of banal and non-essential SEPs which have been seen almost every aspect.

Conclusions:

Industry success relies on innovations, such as technique innovation, cultural innovation, and business innovation. There is no single high-tech company that has succeeded by starting numerous DEPs. Relying on licensing of granted patents cannot produce a great company. It does not mean patent productivities not important. Inventions in 5G should create more useful and reliable features, products, applications and capability to meet commerce and consumer needs (unfortunately, we have not seen many consumer-related 5G features so far).

5G and “5G Beyond” or “6G” (?) SEPs can strive for implementable and economic inventions, including investment and cost saving, energy saving and green communications. Innovations should drive ecosystem end-to-end solutions and use cases. Currently there are hundreds of 5G use cases that have been identified. Unfortunately, many of them (like the IoT use cases) can also be realized by existing 4G/LTE or enhanced WiFi.

Closing Note on URLLC (Ultra Reliable, ultra Low latency Communications):

URLLC is one of three use cases defined by ITU for the IMT 2020 standard and “5G” networks worldwide.  It is included for both the 5G RAN and 5G Core Network in 3GPP Release 16.  From a 3GPP report on URLLC:

“New 3GPP R16 URLCC use cases with higher requirements include: Factory automation Transport Industry, including the remote driving use case, and Electrical Power Distribution.  A 3GPP “Study on Physical layer enhancements for NR ultra-reliable and low latency communication (URLLC)” concludes that it is beneficial to support a set of enhancements to URLLC, and further establishes detailed recommendations as given in Section 9.2 in TR 38.824.”

However, URLLC 5G NR enhancements for the RAN is currently only 53% complete (as per the 3GPP website). That’s because no performance testing has been done yet to validate if the URLLC enhancement to 5G NR will meet 3GPP’s targeted performance requirements. We have been told by 3GPP marketing manager Kevin Flynn that such URLLC performance testing will be completed in three to six months, however there is no official 3GPP target completion date set at the time this article was published (July 10, 2020).

For URLLC to be successful, we first need standardized URLLC requirements (such as 1 millisecond synchronization accuracy, 0.5-to-1 millisecond air interface (in the RAN) latency, <5 milliseconds end-to-end latency (including the 5G Core Network), and six 9’s reliability) to be achieved on paper as clearly specified 5G NR enhancements.  Then the performance parameters must be verified/validated in duplicable performance tests (by independent testing agencies) and reliably implemented  in both 5G endpoint and network products.  Only then can new 5G system and use cases (e.g. mission critical and/or low latency applications. autonomous vehicles, etc) achieve economic benefits and gains.

Along with the IEEE Techblog Editorial Team, I’ve been carefully researching and studying all aspects of URLLC in 3GPP Release 16 and hope to provide you with a co-authored article which will provide more clarity on that topic.  Stay tuned!

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About Yigang Cai:

                                                                 Yigang Cai celebrating life!

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Yigang Cai, PhD is an IEEE Fellow (2018) and former Senior Research Scientist at Bell Labs. As a long time IEEE volunteer, Yigang served as IEEE ComSoc director of North American Region (NAR) (2012-2013), ComSoc global coordinator of Distinguished Lecturer Tour (DLT) (2010-2011), and ComSoc Chicago chapter chairman (2003-2006).

Dr. Cai is one of most prolific telecommunications industry inventors.  He received the Bell Labs Inventor Award three times (2008, 2010 and 2011), and was honored with a first-ever lifetime Alcatel-Lucent “Distinguished Inventor Award” (2013) with his inventive accomplishments and patent contributions throughout his career with the company. Yigang has filed a total of 1000+ patents globally, of which 665 are granted patents (including 193 U.S. granted patents).

Many of his inventions in wireless networks have been built into products and systems of 2G/3G/4G and 5G, and deployed worldwide. He is one of the pioneers and leaders in developing the principles and components of Machine Type Communications (MTC).  Dr. Cai generated many 5G inventions, including 5G New Radio (NR), 5G end-to-end architectures and use cases (both Access Networks and Core Networks), Network Slicing, MEC, 5G Machine Type Communications (MTC), and Device-to-Device Communications.

Yigang worked with Verizon Wireless to incorporate his work on Core Network MTC architecture, into 3GPP specifications. He was the first inventor in the area of radio interface physical resource sharing [between LTE and eMTC (Category M, or CatM)]. Dr. Cai filed dozens of patents related to that subject matter.  Feature software with those pending patents were developed and delivered to Verizon (2016) and AT&T networks in 2017 (over 40,000 base stations), and twenty some other operators worldwide.

Together with ComSocSCV Chair Emeritus Alan J Weissberger, Yigang published an IEEE Global Communications Newsletter (GCN) article on Substantial Progress in ComSoc North American Region which appeared in the December 2013 issue of IEEE Communications magazine.

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Editor’s Addendum :  3GPP R16 5G work items related to IMT 2020.specs and 5G Non-Radio Aspects:

The two ATIS contributions from 3GPP on the latter’s IMT 2020 RIT/SRIT (based on 3GPP documents PCG45_07 and PCG45_08), were submitted to ITU-R WP5D on 21 May 2020. They were discussed and accepted at the 5D meeting which ended 9 July 2020.  There were no other 3GPP/ATIS contributions related to IMT 2020 at that 5D meeting, which was the deadline for submission of material for inclusion in ITU-R Rec. M.[IMT 2020.SPECS].

Therefore, we do not know what the disposition will be of any other 5G radio related work items in 3GPP R16 that were completed after 21 May 2020.  In particular, the state of 3GPP’s 5GNR enhancements for URLLC.

We understand that the 5G NON-RADIO aspects of R16, e.g. 5G architecture, 5G core, network slicing, network management, security, etc. will NOT be sent to ITU-T.  Rather, they will likely be transposed and standardized by ETSI.

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References:

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2020/03/25/3gpp-delays-release-16-and-17-by-3-months/
https://techblog.comsoc.org/2019/10/06/3gpp-release-16-update-5g-phase-2-including-urllc-to-be-completed-in-june-2020/
https://techblog.comsoc.org/2020/03/24/5g-patent-war-are-nokias-3000-5g-patent-declarations-legit/
https://techblog.comsoc.org/2020/06/24/greyb-study-huawei-undisputed-leader-in-5g-standard-essential-patents-seps/
https://www.nokia.com/about-us/news/releases/2020/03/24/nokia-announces-over-3000-5g-patent-declarations/
https://telecoms.com/503274/5g-patent-chest-beating-is-an-unhelpful-distraction/
https://www.wsj.com/articles/qualcomm-5g-security-and-patent-wars-11576096074
https://www.statista.com/chart/20095/companies-with-most-5g-patent-families-and-patent-families-applications/
https://www.iplytics.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/5G-patent-study_TU-Berlin_IPlytics-2020.pdf
https://www.ericsson.com/en/blog/2019/10/5g-patent-leadership
https://www.kidonip.com/news/iplytics-patent-counting-fallacy/
https://www.epo.org/news-events/news/2020/20200312.html

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

Rakuten Mobile, Inc. and NEC to jointly develop the containerized standalone (SA) 5G core network + Dell’Oro report

Japanese upstart carrier Rakuten Mobile, Inc. and NEC Corporation today announced that they have reached an agreement to jointly develop the containerized standalone (SA) 5G core network (5GC) to be utilized in Rakuten Mobile’s fully virtualized cloud native 5G network.

Based on the agreement, Rakuten Mobile and NEC will jointly develop the containerized SA 5G mobile core to be made available on the Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP), Rakuten Mobile’s fully virtualized and containerized cloud-native mobile network platform. The two companies will collaborate to build a Japan-made, highly reliable 5GC, based on the 5GC software source code developed by NEC. Subsequent to the launch of its non-standalone (NSA) 5G service in 2020, Rakuten Mobile aims to provide its SA 5G service in Japan in 2021.

The containerized 5GC will also play a key role in the global expansion of RCP, a platform aimed at offering solutions and services for the deployment of virtualized networks at speed and low cost by telecom companies and enterprises around the world, tailored for their unique needs. The 5GC will be offered as an application on the RCP Marketplace, allowing customers to quickly and easily “click, purchase and deploy” a fully virtualized SA 5G core network solution.

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Editor’s Note:  The two companies don’t state what spec they’re using for their container based SA 5G Core Network.   Please see Tareq Amin’s Comment below.

The only standards work we know of related to SA 5G Core Network is in 3GPP (5GCN), but it’s based on a NFV enabled network cloud and a service based architecturerather than containers.

We suggest that NEC contribute this spec to both 3GPP and ITU-T (for IMT 2020 non-radio aspects).  However, neither ITU-R or ITU-T has any serious ongoing work related to the 5G Core Network at this point in time.

The 3GPP specified 5G core network covers both wire-line and wireless access.  Key characteristics:

 Control plane is separated from the data plane and implemented in a virtualized environment
 Fully distributed network architecture with single level of hierarchy

 GW to GW interface to support seamless mobility between 5G-GW
 Traffic of the same flow can be delivered over multiple RITs

From the latest 3GPP Release 16 – TS.23501 5G Systems Architecture-V16.4.0 (2020-03):

The 5G System architecture is defined to support data connectivity and services enabling deployments to use techniques such as e.g. Network Function Virtualization and Software Defined Networking. The 5G System architecture shall leverage service-based interactions between Control Plane (CP) Network Functions where identified. Some key principles and concept are to:

– Separate the User Plane (UP) functions from the Control Plane (CP) functions, allowing independent scalability, evolution and flexible deployments e.g. centralized location or distributed (remote) location.

– Modularize the function design, e.g. to enable flexible and efficient network slicing.

– Wherever applicable, define procedures (i.e. the set of interactions between network functions) as services, so that their re-use is possible.

– Enable each Network Function and its Network Function Services to interact with other NF and its Network Function Services directly or indirectly via a Service Communication Proxy if required. The architecture does not preclude the use of another intermediate function to help route Control Plane messages (e.g. like a DRA).

– Minimize dependencies between the Access Network (AN) and the Core Network (CN). The architecture is defined with a converged core network with a common AN – CN interface which integrates different Access Types e.g. 3GPP access and non-3GPP access.

– Support a unified authentication framework.

– Support “stateless” NFs, where the “compute” resource is decoupled from the “storage” resource.

– Support capability exposure.

– Support concurrent access to local and centralized services. To support low latency services and access to local data networks, UP functions can be deployed close to the Access Network.

ITU-T SG13 is working on IMT 2020 non-radio aspects, but are heavily dependent on 3GPP documents to be liased inorder to drive their future standards work in that area.

Please see Comment in box underneath this article for GSMA Feb 2020 document on SA 5G Core option 2 guidelines for implementation.

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“We are very excited to collaborate with NEC on the development of our standalone 5G core network,” commented Tareq Amin, Representative Director, Executive Vice President and CTO of Rakuten Mobile. “Our partnership with NEC represents a joint collaboration to build an open, secure and highly scalable 4G and 5G cloud native converged core, that will also become a key feature of the highly competitive services we will offer to global customers through the Rakuten Communications Platform.”

“NEC is proud to be the 5GC development partner for Rakuten Mobile’s advanced, fully virtualized, cloud-native network. Following the BSS/OSS for the 4G network and 5G radio equipment that we have already begun offering, we look forward to providing a high-quality, highly reliable 5GC and contributing to Rakuten Mobile’s 5G services,” said Atsuo Kawamura, Executive Vice President and President of the Network Services Business Unit, NEC.

Through the joint development of the SA 5GC, Rakuten Mobile and NEC aim to drive innovation in global mobile technology and provide high quality 5G network technology to customers both in Japan and around the world.

Rakuten Mobile CTO Tareq Amin clarification comments; via edited email to this author:

NEC/Rakuten 5GC is 3GPP standardized software for network service and a de facto standard container basis infrastructure (infrastructure agnostic).  It is a forward looking approach, but not proprietary.

1.  3GPP standardized software for network service:

NEC/Rakuten 5GC openness are realized by implementation of Open Interface defined in 3GPP specifications  (TS 23.501, 502, 503 and related stage 3 specifications).

2.   Containerization/Cloud native:

3GPP 5GC specification requires cloud native architecture as the general concept.  It should be distributed, stateless, and scalable.  However, an explicit reference model is out of scope for the 3GPP specification. Therefore NEC 5GC cloud native architecture is based on above mentioned 3GPP concept as well as ETSI NFV treats container and cloud native, which NEC is also actively investigating to apply its product.

3.  Reference To Open RAN in the press release:

This has no relationship to 5G Core, but only an indication that our Radio Access Network (RAN) architecture is O-RAN Compliant.

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Press Release:

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200602005999/en/Rakuten-Mobile-NEC-Agree-Jointly-Develop-Containerized

About Rakuten Mobile

Rakuten Mobile, Inc. is a Rakuten Group company responsible for mobile communications, including mobile network operator (MNO) and mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) businesses, as well as ICT and energy. Through continuous innovation and the deployment of advanced technology, Rakuten Mobile aims to redefine expectations in the mobile communications industry in order to provide appealing and convenient services that respond to diverse customer needs.

About NEC Corporation

NEC Corporation has established itself as a leader in the integration of IT and network technologies while promoting the brand statement of “Orchestrating a brighter world.” NEC enables businesses and communities to adapt to rapid changes taking place in both society and the market as it provides for the social values of safety, security, fairness and efficiency to promote a more sustainable world where everyone has the chance to reach their full potential. For more information, visit NEC at http://www.nec.com.

Contacts:

Rakuten, Inc.
Corporate Communications Department
global-pr@mail.rakuten.com

NEC Corporation
Corporate Communications Division
press@news.jp.nec.com

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Addendum from Dell’Oro Group:

Mobile Core Network Growth to Accelerate with 5G Core Deployments

The Mobile Core Network market grew 10 percent year-over-year to nearly $8 Billion for the trailing four quarters ending in 1Q20. Growth is expected to accelerate over the next four quarters due to 5G Core deployments.

“There are other factors influencing the uptake. The COVID-19 pandemic is now seen mostly as a positive for the wireless infrastructure sector with more demand for voice and data. Plus the T-Mobile/Sprint merger has completed, and the new T-Mobile is moving ahead with an aggressive 5G build,” Bolan continued.

Additional highlights from the Mobile Core Network 1Q20 report:

  • Revenue market share for Huawei and Ericsson combined for over half of the market, while Nokia, ZTE, and Cisco totaled over 25 percent, for the trailing four quarters ending in 1Q2020.
  • We forecast the Network Function Virtualization penetration (vs Containers) will approach 70 percent in 1Q2021 due to the revenue growth in 5G Core deployments.

About the Report

The Dell’Oro Group Mobile Core Network Quarterly Report offers complete, in-depth coverage of the market with tables covering manufacturers’ revenue, shipments, and average selling prices for Evolved Packet Core, 5G Core, IMS Core, Policy, Subscriber Management, licenses by Non-NFV and NFV, and by geographic regions.  To purchase this report, please contact us at dgsales@delloro.com.

About Dell’Oro Group

Dell’Oro Group is a market research firm that specializes in strategic competitive analysis in the telecommunications, networks, and data center IT markets.  Our firm provides in-depth quantitative data and qualitative analysis to facilitate critical, fact-based business decisions.  For more information, contact Dell’Oro Group at +1.650.622.9400 or visit www.delloro.com.

Ultra Oxymoron: GSMA teams up with O-RAN Alliance without liaison with 3GPP or ITU

The GSMA and O-RAN Alliance are cooperating to accelerate the adoption of Open Radio Access Network (RAN) products and solutions that take advantage of new open virtualized architectures, software and hardware. The organizations will work together to harmonize the open networking ecosystem and agree on an industry roadmap for network solutions, thereby making access networks as open and flexible as possible for new market entrants.

GSMA. made up with established wireless telcos and incumbent network equipment vendors,  says that “5G will facilitate the opportunity to create even more agile, purpose-built networks tailored to the different needs of citizens, enterprises and society. For example, 5G is an essential ingredient of the European Commission’s recently launched Industrial Strategy and will help shape its future.”

O-RAN Alliance is a world-wide community of more than 170 mobile operators, vendors, and research & academic institutions operating in the Radio Access Network (RAN) industry. It’s  mission is to re-shape the industry towards more intelligent, open, virtualized and fully interoperable mobile networks. The new O-RAN standards will enable a more competitive and vibrant RAN supplier ecosystem with faster innovation to improve user experience. O-RAN-compliant mobile networks will at the same time improve the efficiency of RAN deployments as well as operations by the mobile operators.

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Author’s Opinion:

So here we have an upstart consortium (O-RAN Alliance), cooperating with an established mobile ecosystem marketing machine (GSMA) to promote “open and interoperable mobile networks.”  Yet the only way for that to be realized is through adherence to “open” standards and cooperating closely with recognized standards bodies.  That is the way interoperability is obtained- by defining open interfaces, layers and protocols!

Instead, O-RAN is making their own specifications (e.g. virtual RAN)  that are not part of any 5G standard or 3GPP spec!  In particular, the O-RAN Alliance has no liaisons with either 3GPP or ITU-R or ITU-T.   How is then possible to specify open hardware and software without any inter-change of documents with those standards organizations?  One would think that liaisons, spec iterations, close cooperation with feedback would be essential for success, e.g. a closed loop ecosystem between standards bodies and open source consortiums is urgently needed!

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In its latest Mobile Economy Report, the GSMA predicts that operators will invest more than a trillion dollars over the next five years globally to serve both consumer and enterprise customers, 80 per cent of which will be on 5G networks.

“When 5G reaches its potential, it will become the first generation of mobile networks to have a bigger impact on enterprises than consumers,” said Alex Sinclair, Chief Technology Officer, GSMA. “In the enterprise sector alone, we forecast $700 billion worth of economic value to be created by the 5G opportunity. The growth of the open networking ecosystem will be essential to meeting enterprise coverage and services needs in the 5G era.”

“As the demand for data and vastly expanded mobile communications grow in the 5G era, a global, cross-border approach is needed to rethink the RAN,” said Andre Fuetsch, Chairman of the O-RAN ALLIANCE, and Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, AT&T. “The GSMA collaboration with the O-RAN ALLIANCE is exactly the sort of global effort that’s needed for everyone, operators and vendors alike, to succeed in this new generation.”

Mobile operators are re-evaluating the way that their networks are deployed. New virtualised architectures with open interfaces can drive cost efficiencies and allow operators to accelerate the deployment of 5G networks. Also, open interfaces can help diversify and reinvigorate the supply chain promoting competition and innovation – for example, by building and operating a RAN based on mix-and-match components from different vendors.

The GSMA and O-RAN ALLIANCE collaboration complements the recently announced inter-working between the GSMA and Telecom Infra Project (TIP), and the O-RAN Alliance and TIP. The goal for these collaborations is to help avoid fragmentation and accelerate the successful evolution of the industry towards a more intelligent, open, virtualized and fully interoperable RAN (see Author’s Opinion above) why this is highly unlikely to happen).

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Image Credit: O-RAN Alliance

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June 12, 2020 Update: Press Release from Mavenir and Aliostar:

“Very few companies are participating in the current (OpenRAN) supply chain and mostly offering proprietary radio solutions lacking open interfaces that are not interoperable with other network elements. In addition, the requirement to procure products from trusted vendors in the US market is also causing operators to reconsider supplier options. OpenRAN radios provide new possibilities for operators to implement a secure, cost effective and best of breed solution as networks move to 5G and beyond.”

Mavenir and Altiostar Collaborate to Deliver OpenRAN Radios for US Market

 

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….About the GSMA
The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, uniting nearly 750 operators with almost 300 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, including handset and device makers, software companies, equipment providers and internet companies, as well as organisations in adjacent industry sectors. The GSMA also produces industry-leading events such as Mobile World Congress, Mobile World Congress Shanghai, Mobile World Congress Americas and the Mobile 360 Series of conferences.

For more information, please visit the GSMA corporate website at www.gsma.com. Follow the GSMA on Twitter: @GSMA.

About O-RAN ALLIANCE
O-RAN ALLIANCE is a world-wide community of more than 170 mobile operators, vendors, and research & academic institutions operating in the Radio Access Network (RAN) industry. As the RAN is an essential part of any mobile network, O-RAN ALLIANCE’s mission is to re-shape the industry towards more intelligent, open, virtualized and fully interoperable mobile networks. The new O-RAN standards will enable a more competitive and vibrant RAN supplier ecosystem with faster innovation to improve user experience. O-RAN-compliant mobile networks will at the same time improve the efficiency of RAN deployments as well as operations by the mobile operators. To achieve this, O-RAN ALLIANCE publishes new RAN specifications, releases open software for the RAN, and supports its members in integration and testing of their implementations.

For a short video describing O-RAN’s progress, see www.o-ran.org/videos

For more information please visit www.o-ran.org

Media Contacts: 
For the GSMA
Alia Ilyas
+44 (0) 7970 637622
ailyas@gsma.com

GSMA Press Office
pressoffice@gsma.com

O-RAN ALLIANCE:
Zbynek Dalecky
pr@o-ran.org
O-RAN Alliance e.V.
Buschkauler Weg 27
53347 Alfter/Germany

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References:

GSMA and O-RAN Alliance Collaborate on Opening up 5G Networks

 

5G breaks from proprietary systems, embraces open source RANs

3GPP delays Release 16 and 17 Freeze by 3 months; IMT 2020 impact unclear

3GPP stated on its website that the timeline for the completion of two of their upcoming releases that include 5G specifications will be delayed.

A shift of the Release 16 timeline was approved at the 3GPP March 20th  TSG#87 plenary e-meetings.

  • Rel-16 Stage 3 freeze now June 2020 (shifted by 3 months)
  • Rel-16 ASN.1 and OpenAPI specification freeze will also be complete in June 2020 (stays as planned)

Freezing stage 3 of a 3GPP release essentially means no further functions can be added to the spec. ASN.1 refers to abstract syntax notation object identifiers maintained by ETSI.

3GPP SA Plenary Chairman Georg Mayer wrote in an email to this author:

“Whilst 3GPP shifted the R16 stage 3 freeze by three months, we kept the code freeze in June.

It is from my perspective incorrect to say that we shifted R16 by three months. Just the stage 3 freeze and the code freeze are now coinciding. This was also clearly stated in the approved discussion papers in all groups. Those are the source of information people should go to when they look for guidance.”

3GPP RAN Chairman Belasz Bertenyi wrote in an email to this author:

 “The Release-16 ASN.1 and OpenAPI code freeze timeline is kept unchanged, and is still targeting June 2020.”

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New 3GPP Release Timeline:

The “Release 16 Description: Summary of Rel-16 Work Items” (TR21.916) is now in production, with the Work Plan manager adding summary notes about each of the Features that it will bring, to the 3GPP system. As the Release approaches its Freeze date and completion (June 2020) – TR21.916 will start to expand and fill with useful detail about the main purpose and state of each feature.

The schedule for Release 17 is to be shifted by three months, such that the freezing of stage 3 will take place in September 2021.  [Release 17 is to include further 5G system enhancements such as 5G wearables and faster network performance.]  The specification freeze for Release 17 ASN.1 and OpenAPI is now scheduled for December 2021.

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The move had been expected after 3GPP announced it would cancel its face-to-face meetings in February and March due to concerns about the spreading coronavirus.

While 3GPP’s face-to-face meetings have been canceled through May, the organization has scheduled online meetings to continue its work despite the pandemic and will hopefully be able to keep their specifications on schedule going forward.

However, the impact of 3GPP’s Release 16 delay will surely push back the roll-out of true 5G deployments.   It remains to be seen if the much touted but not yet completed Enhancement of Ultra-Reliable (UR) Low Latency Communications (URLLC) in 3GPP Release 16 will be submitted to ITU-R WP5D at their June 2020 meeting for inclusion in the IMT 2020 RIT/SRIT standard.

This author suspects ITU-R WP 5D leaders are looking at how to adjust their meeting plans in light of the global pandemic.  Their next meeting is scheduled for June 23 to July 1, 2020 in Geneva.

Balasz says that “whatever the IMT 2020 schedule, 3GPP is continuously committed to make sure its IMT 2020 submissions will arrive in time and with high specification quality.”

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Reference:

https://www.3gpp.org/specifications/releases

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15 April 2020 Update:

VERY IMPORTANT to note that unless it’s delayed till 2021, ITU-R IMT 2020 standard will NOT specify ultra low latency/ultra high reliability cause those capabilities are in 3GPP Rel 16 which won’t be frozen till July 3rd when their next meeting ends. ITU-R WP5D meeting ends July 1st.  Hence, it will not be possible for 3GPP to submit 5G portions of Rel 16 till after WP5D’s July 1st meeting which will be too late to be included in the 1st version of IMT 2020 scheduled for late November 2020.  The alternative is for WP 5D to delay their IMT 2020 completion schedule at their June-July 2020 meeting so we’ll watch that 5D meeting very closely to keep readers informed.

Background on Release 16:

Details of the features and work items under each 3GPP Release are kept in the corresponding, on-line, list of features and study items.

Strategy Analytics: Huawei 1st among top 5 contributors to 3GPP 5G specs

Even though there are more than 600 member companies participating in 3GPP, their 5G specification process is actually led by only a few leading telecom companies. New research from Strategy Analytics analyzes the contributions to 3GPP 5G  specifications (Release 15 and Release 16) and finds that 13 companies contributed more than 78% 5G related papers and led 77% of the 5G related Work Items and Study Items.

The Strategy Analytics report “Who Are the Leading Players in 5G Standardization? An Assessment for 3GPP 5G Activities” is available to clients and registered guests here . The report assesses the 13 leading companies’ contributions to 3GPP 5G standards for the period of Releases 15 and 16 so far, based on the following criteria:

  • Volume of 5G related papers, including submitted papers, approved/agreed papers and the ratio of approved/agreed papers to total submissions in all Technical Specification Groups (TSGs) and Working Groups (WGs)
  • Chairmanship positions, i.e. Chairman and Vice Chairmen for all TSGs and WGs
  • Rapporteurs of 5G related Work Items (WIs) / Study Items (SIs) in all TSGs and WGs

The results indicate that the top 5 companies in 3GPP 5G specification activities are Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm and China Mobile.

Guang Yang , Director at Strategy Analytics, noted, “3GPP plays the central role in the ecosystem of global 5G standardization.  By analyzing the contributions of industry players to 3GPP 5G standards, we can get an idea of different companies’ positions in 5G innovation as well as their influence in the global mobile industry. So we looked at 3GPP organization and work procedures to assess each company’s influence from multiple aspects.”

Sue Rudd , Director Networks and Service Platforms service, added, “According to our assessment, leading infrastructure vendors – Huawei , Ericsson and Nokia – made more significant contributions to 5G standards than other studied companies. Huawei leads in terms of overall contributions to the end-to-end 5G standards, while Ericsson leads in TSG/WG chairmanship and Nokia in approved/agreed ratio of 5G contribution papers .”

Phil Kendall , Executive Director at Strategy Analytics, added, “It is important to remember that the true nature of the standardization process is actually one of industry collaboration rather than competition. 3GPP standardization continues to be a dynamic process. It is expected that emerging players and new market requirements will increasingly impact priorities for 3GPP Release 17 standards.”

3GPP Timeline:

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Mike Dano of Lightreading says “Huawei being the biggest contributor to the 3GPP’s 5G specs will undoubtedly worry U.S. lawmakers and regulators, who for years have argued the company poses a security threat to the nation. Huawei denies those allegations.”

“We must have a vocal presence at the standards bodies that are defining the rules for 5G. We have been woefully absent and need to make participation a priority,” wrote Mike Rogers in a recent opinion column. Rogers is a former US representative who co-authored the 2012 US government report initially outlining the security threats posed by Chinese equipment vendors like Huawei and ZTE.

“We need to work with our allies to staunch the spread of Huawei and other Chinese companies owned by the state. We need to better communicate what Chinese dominance of 5G means. This is something we have not successfully done, as shown by Britain deciding to allow Huawei into certain elements of the 5G network,” Rogers added.

Rogers now chairs the “5G Action Now” 501(c)4 advocacy organization, which has been working with the now-disbanded C-Band Alliance to speed up the C-Band spectrum auction in the US for 5G.

Indeed, legislation introduced early this year would require the Trump administration to develop a strategy to “promote United States leadership at international standards-setting bodies for equipment, systems, software, and virtually-defined networks relevant to 5th and future generation mobile telecommunications systems and infrastructure, taking into account the different processes followed by the various international standard-setting bodies.”  That legislation passed the House and is now headed to the Senate.

Companies’ 3GPP contributions to the 5G specs [1.] don’t necessarily translate into revenues. For that, companies must patent their inventions.

Note 1.  3GPP specs vs 5G standards:

3GPP 5G specs in Release 15 and 16 have and will continue to be input to ITU-R WP 5D, but only some of those contributions will be in IMT 2020 which is currently restricted to the Radio Interface Technologies (RITs) or sets of RITs (SRITs).  Other essential 5G specs like signaling, 5G packet core, 5G network management, etc will be standardized by SDOs (like ETSI) but the real work is done in 3GPP.  Also note that IMT 2020 will have several NON 3GPP RITs from ETSI/DECT Forum and India (TSDSI).

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According to one study, Huawei leads in that respect also. IPlytics recently reported that the Chinese firm has far and away the most “declared 5G families” of patents, and the most filed since 2012.

However, it’s worth noting that UK law firm Bird & Bird argues that the reliance on such patent calculations isn’t very insightful, and that different methodologies yield different results.

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References:

https://news.strategyanalytics.com/press-releases/press-release-details/2020/Strategy-Analytics-Infrastructure-Giants-Lead-5G-Standardization/default.aspx

https://www.lightreading.com/5g/study-huawei-was-the-biggest-contributor-to-5g-standards/d/d-id/758279?

 

Gartner: Market Guide for 3GPP “5G New Radio (NR)” Infrastructure

Editor’s Note:

Most mobile 5G deployments to date are based on 3GPP Release 15 “5G NR” or “NR”in the data plane and Non Stand Alone (NSA), with LTE for everything else (i.e. control plane/signalling, mobile packet core, network management, etc).  3GPP Release 16 will hopefully add ultra low latency, ultra high reliability to the 5G NR data plane.  Equally important will be the 5G systems architecture-phase 2 that will be specified in Release 16. That spec includes a 5G mobile packet core (5GC) which is a forklift upgrade from the 4G-LTE Evolved Packet Core (EPC).  It remains to be seen which ITU study group will standardized 5GC when 3GPP Release 16 is completed in late June 2020.

From the paper titled Narrowband Internet of Things 5G Performance published in 2019 IEEE 90th Vehicular Technology Conference (VTC2019-Fall):

5G NR supports new frequency bands ranging all the way up to 52.6 GHz. These new frequency bands make large system bandwidths available that are needed to improve the mobile broadband data rates beyond what LTE can offer.

NR also supports a reduced latency by means of reduced transmission time intervals and shortened device processing times compared to LTE. To provide high reliability, NR supports low code rates and a high level of redundancy.

In the initial phase of the transition from 4G to 5G, NR is expected to be a complement to both LTE and NB-IoT, providing enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) and critical IoT services. The past industrial practice suggests that the mobile network operators will stepwise re-farm parts of its LTE spectrum for enabling NR. Since NR supports a new range of frequency bands, an attractive alternative approach is to deploy NR in a set of new rather than existing bands. 3GPP Release 15 allows NR to connect to the EPC to support a seamless transition from LTE to NR.

The NR traffic volumes will eventually motivate a full refarming of the LTE MBB spectrum to NR. The longevity of NB-IoT devices is however expected to make NB-IoT a natural component within the 5G echo-system. For this reason, NR supports reservation of radio resources to enable LTE operation including NB-IoT, within an NR carrier. This allows NB-IoT to add NR in-band operation to its list of supported deployment options. Since both NR and NB-IoT employ an OFDM based modulation with support for 15-kHz subcarrier numerology, in the downlink (DL) true interference-free orthogonality can be achieved without configuration of guard-bands between the two systems.

 

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From Gartner report published Dec 16, 2019:

By Peter LiuSylvain FabreKosei Takiishi

Introduction:

As communications service providers move forward with 5G commercialization, New Radio infrastructure investment is prioritized and crucial for 5G rollout success. We analyze the market direction and the product strategies of equipment vendors to help guide product managers in CSPs.

By 2021, investments in 5G NR network infrastructure will account for 19% of the total wireless infrastructure revenue of communications service providers (CSPs), elevated from 6% in 2019.

5G NR is a new  Radio Access Technology (RAT) developed by 3GPP. There are two key components that are included physically — Next Generation Node B (gNB) and antennas. The Next Generation Node B (gNB) can be further split into two main functional modules — the centralized unit (CU), the distributed unit (DU) which can be deployed in multiple combinations.
There are several key features related to 5G New Radio, which include, but are not limited to:
  • Support for new subcarrier spacing
  • Massive multiple input/multiple output (MIMO)/beamforming
  • Enhanced scheduling by hybrid automatic repeat request (HARQ)
  • Cyclic-prefix orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (CP-OFDM) and discrete fourier transform spread orthogonal frequency-division multiple access (DFTS-OFDM)
  • Bandwidth part (BWP) and carrier aggregation (CA)
The form of 5G NR infrastructure can be microcell, small cell (indoor/outdoor) and macrocell.
Gartner defines 5G using the 3GPP standard body definition. 5G New Radio (NR) is a new Radio Access Technology (RAT) developed by 3GPP for the  fifth generation (5G) mobile network. It was designed to be the global standard for the air interface of 5G networks. 5G New Radio infrastructure in this Market Guide refers to the 3GPP 5G RAN architecture — specified in Release 15 and known as NG-RAN. There are two key components included physically — 5G radio base station (gNBs) and antennas. The 5G radio base stations (gNBs) can be further split into three main functional modules — the centralized unit (CU), the distributed unit (DU) and the radio unit (RU) — which can be deployed in multiple combinations.
There are several key features related to 5G New Radio, which include but are not limited to:
  • New Radio spectrum
  • Optimized orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM)
  • Adaptive beamforming
  • Massive MIMO
  • Spectrum sharing
  • Unified design across frequencies
The form of 5G NR infrastructure can be microcell, small cell (indoor/ outdoor) and macrocell.

Key Findings:

  • The deployment of 5G New Radio (NR) products will accelerate in 2020, through high total cost of ownership (TCO), absence of “killer application,” unmatured millimeter wave ecosystem and inexpensive device availability that prevent rapid growth in capital investment.
  • Most of current commercial 5G sub-6 gigahertz (GHz) communications service providers (CSPs) also start building their multiband strategy which is in line with their business strategy; for example, sub-1GHz for coverage enhancement and millimeter wave for capacity.
  • Initial 5G deployment was based on non-stand-alone (NSA) architecture which couples the Long Term Evolution (LTE) with 5G NR radio layers to accelerate time to market and reduce cost. This coexistence will last for many years, though specific CSPs may move toward stand-alone (SA) deployment as early as 2020.
  • Open radio access network (RAN) and virtualized RAN (vRAN) have seen an increase in attention after Rakuten Mobile announced its commercial adoption in LTE. However, fragmented standards, incumbent vendor support, technology immaturity and poor fiber availability continue to hamper its success.

Market Description

Global 5G infrastructure market is expected to witness significant growth over the coming years. 5G technology has the potential to support capabilities such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotic process automation and the Internet of Things (IoT), apart from the high-speed network performance. Thus, with growing internet penetration and rapidly increasing mobile users, healthy growth would be seen in the years to come in the global 5G infrastructure market.
However, although the pace of 5G is significantly more accelerated than 4G, we all acknowledge it will be a marathon. CSPs are still very cautious and fast adoption today does not necessarily equal fast deployment in scale. While CSPs are still seeking killer applications and are under increasing financial pressures due to the expensive spectrum, they also recognize that 5G deployment is more challenging than before. Higher frequencies, combining LTE and 5G together, as well as NSA and SA cores, is proving to be a complex undertaking.
Despite some uncertainty brought about by geopolitical challenges, overall, current NSA setup largely benefits the existing dominant LTE vendors such as Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia, Samsung and ZTE — since it is the most cost-effective way to deliver 5G on board. Other key criteria important to CSPs include:
  • Baseband unit capacity
  • Portfolio broadness
  • Deployment feasibility
  • Technology evolution
This provides less opportunities for niche vendors promoting their open RAN concept in the short term. The situation will be improved when SA and small cell have been deployed. From a spectrum perspective, for the higher bands (particularly mmWave), the main issue is the ability to acquire large numbers of suitable sites and deliver the coverage people expect. For midband (sub-6Ghz) deployments, this issue is not as significant due to the ability to reuse sites, for the most part. For frequency division duplex (FDD) bands, complete reuse is, of course, possible.
5G is already available in many major cities, with more coverage expected in 2020. Given the momentum for 5G, Gartner forecast calls for growth in carrier infrastructure spending in 2019 and faster growth in 2020. Considering majority deployment will be based on non-stand-alone architecture, 5G NR infrastructure will represent the biggest portion of the 5G investment.
Despite the hype around 5G, CSPs are looking for a practical 5G implementation strategy that allows them to quickly launch Phase 1 5G services (enhanced mobile broadband [eMBB], fixed wireless access [FWA]) in a cost-efficient way. Decisions on where, when and which vendors to work with are driven by commercial considerations and are also related to spectrum availability, deployment feasibility as well as ecosystem maturity.
5G Application Has Different Time Scales

Recommendations for 5G Communications Service Providers (CSPs):

To better enable infrastructure delivery strategies, product managers should:
  • Build a step-wise 5G NR implementation strategy by initially focusing on best use of existing infrastructure investment, then simplifying the deployment in order to reduce the time to market and minimize risk.
  • Develop spectrum strategies based on business focus, frequencies available as well as ecosystem maturity. Choose the vendors that have preferred radio spectrum support with combinations of spectrum reframing and sharing.
  • Select the 5G NR solution by accessing a vendor’s capabilities of interworking with existing 4G/LTE networks and its ability to provide a high degree of continuity and seamless experience for users. In addition, explore a seamless software upgrade path to enable 5G SA evolution.
  • Build an end-to-end understanding of the Open Radio Access Network (O-RAN) impact on network, operations, performance and procurement by conducting a proof of concept (POC)/pilot.

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Acronym Key and Glossary Terms

2G
second generation
3G
third generation
3GPP
Third Generation Partnership Project
4G
fourth generation
5G
fifth generation
AAU
Active Antenna Unit
AI
artificial intelligence
AR
augmented reality
ASIC
application-specific integrated circuit
BBU
baseband unit
BWP
bandwidth part
C-RAN
cloud radio access network
CA
carrier aggregation
capex
capital expenditure
CBRS
Citizens Broadband Radio Service
CoMP
coordinated multipoint
CP-OFDM
cyclic-prefix orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing
CPE
customer premises equipment
CSP
communications service provider
CU
centralized unit
DAFE
Digital/Analog Front End
DFTS-OFDM
discrete fourier transform spread orthogonal frequency-division multiple access
DIS
digital indoor system
DL
downlink
DU
distributed unit
eCPRI
enhanced Common Public Radio Interface
eMBB
enhanced mobile broadband
EPC
Evolved Packet Core
FDD
frequency division duplex
FH
fronthaul
FWA
fixed wireless access
Gbps
gigabits per second
GHz
gigahertz
gNB
Next Generation Node B
HARQ
hybrid automatic repeat request
I&O
infrastructure and operations
IBW
instantaneous bandwidth (ZTE)
IC
integrated circuit
ICT
information and communication technology
IMT-2020
International Mobile Telecommunications-2020
IoT
Internet of Things
ITU-R
International Telecommunication Union Radiocommunication Sector
LAA
Licensed Assisted Access
LTE
Long Term Evolution
LTE-V
LTE Vehicle
MAA
Multiple Input/Multiple Output Adaptive Antenna
MHz
megahertz
ML
machine learning
MIMO
multiple input/multiple output
mMTC
Massive Machine Type Communications
mmWave
millimeter wave (frequencies above 24GHz)
MOCN
multioperator core network
MORAN
multicarrier radio access network
MOS
Multi-Operator Servers (Mavenir)
NFV
network function virtualization
NR
New Radio
NSA
non-stand-alone
O-RAN
Open Radio Access Network
OBW
occupied bandwidth
OEM
original equipment manufacturer
OFDM
orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing
opex
operating expenditure
POC
proof of concept
PRB
physical resource blocks
QAM
quadrature amplitude modulation
R&D
research and development
RAN
radio access network
RAT
Radio Access Technology
RIC
RAN Intelligent Controller (Nokia)
RF
radio frequency
RFIC
Radio Frequency Integrated Circuit
RRU
remote radio unit
RU
radio unit
SA
stand-alone
SDN
software-defined network
SDR
software-defined radio
SON
self-organizing network
Sub-1GHz
Low-band frequencies are those at 600MHz, 800MHz, and 900MHz.
Sub-6GHz
Frequencies under 6GHz but above the low-band frequencies (2.5GHz, 3.5GHz, and 3.7GHz to 4.2GHz).
SUL
Supplementary Uplink
TCO
total cost of ownership
TD-LTE
Time Division-Long Term Evolution
TDD
time division duplex
TRX
Transceiver/Receiver
UBR
Ultra Broadband RRU (ZTE)
UL
uplink
URLLC
ultrareliable and low-latency communications
VR
virtual reality
vRAN
virtualized radio access network
WG2
Work Group 2
WG3
Work Group 3
Evidence has been collected from:
  • Gartner surveys
  • CSP and vendor briefings, plus discussions
  • Associated Gartner research
  • Gartner market forecasts
  • Gartner client discussions

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References- related Gartner posts:

Gartner: Telecom at the Edge + Distributed Cloud in 3 Stages

Gartner Group Innovation & Insight: Cutting Through the 5G Hype

SK Telecom Selects Ericsson 5G Packet Core (3GPP Release 16- 5GC)

SK Telecom has selected Ericsson to deliver a Cloud Packet Core for its 5G network. Ericsson says its Cloud Packet Core (part of the company’s Cloud Core portfolio) helps service providers to smoothly migrate to 5G Core (5GC) stand-alone architecture.

Author’s Note:

Please see below for more information on 3GPP 5GC which is part of Release 16 and as yet has not been submitted to either ITU-R or ITU-T for IMT 2020 mobile packet core.  There seems to be no independent work on a 5G mobile packet core within ITU, which is evidently waiting anxiously for 3GPP Release 16 to be completed and forwarded to various ITU-R WPs and ITU-T Study Groups.

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Ericsson’s Cloud Packet Core is at the business end of mobile broadband and IoT networks. It creates value, visibility and control of traffic and applications by determining the optimal quality of a service, then enforcing it through appropriate policy.

Jung Chang-kwan, Vice President and Head of Infra Engineering Group, SK Telecom, says: “By utilizing Ericsson’s Cloud Packet Core network solution, which realizes simplified network operations, we will unleash the full potential of new 5G-enabled use cases with greater efficiency.”

Jan Karlsson, Senior Vice President and Head of Digital Services, Ericsson, says: “This deal, and the opportunity to work with SK Telecom’s Network Functions Virtualization Infrastructure (NFVI), has put us in the ideal position to further strengthen their 5G network. Delivering our Cloud Packet Core solution will positively impact SK Telecom’s network operations and will reinforce Ericsson’s position as a leader in 5G core.”

SK Telecom switched on its commercial 5G network in December 2018 after selecting Ericsson as one of its primary 5G vendors. Previously, Ericsson provided radio access network (RAN) products, including mid-band Massive MIMO.

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3GPP 5GC (the only specification for a 5G mobile packet core):

The 5GC (5G packet Core), specified in 3GPP TS 23.501: System architecture for the 5G System (5GS); Stage 2, will be part of 3GPP Release 16, which won’t be completed till June 2020 at the earliest.

3GPP’s 5G System architecture is defined to support data connectivity and services enabling deployments to use techniques such as e.g. Network Function Virtualization and Software Defined Networking. The 5G System architecture shall leverage service-based interactions between Control Plane (CP) Network Functions where identified. Some key principles and concept are to:

–     Separate the User Plane (UP) functions from the Control Plane (CP) functions, allowing independent scalability, evolution and flexible deployments e.g. centralized location or distributed (remote) location.

–     Modularize the function design, e.g. to enable flexible and efficient network slicing.

–     Wherever applicable, define procedures (i.e. the set of interactions between network functions) as services, so that their re-use is possible.

–     Enable each Network Function and its Network Function Services to interact with other NF and its Network Function Services directly or indirectly via a Service Communication Proxy if required. The architecture does not preclude the use of another intermediate function to help route Control Plane messages (e.g. like a DRA).

–     Minimize dependencies between the Access Network (AN) and the Core Network (CN). The architecture is defined with a converged core network with a common AN – CN interface which integrates different Access Types e.g. 3GPP access and non-3GPP access.

–     Support a unified authentication framework.

–     Support “stateless” NFs, where the “compute” resource is decoupled from the “storage” resource.

–     Support capability exposure.

–     Support concurrent access to local and centralized services. To support low latency services and access to local data networks, UP functions can be deployed close to the Access Network.

–     Support roaming with both Home routed traffic as well as Local breakout traffic in the visited PLMN.

The 5G architecture is defined as service-based and the interaction between network functions is represented in the following two ways:

–     A service-based representation, where network functions (e.g. AMF) within the Control Plane enables other authorized network functions to access their services. This representation also includes point-to-point reference points where necessary.

–     A reference point representation, shows the interaction exist between the NF services in the network functions described by point-to-point reference point (e.g. N11) between any two network functions (e.g. AMF and SMF).

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GSMA’s Position on 5GC:

The network evolution from 4G-LTE mobile packet core (EPC) to 5G Core (5GC) plays a central role in creating a powerful network platform that is capable of being exposed and automated for service providers.

5GC has been designed from its inception to be “cloud native,” inheriting many of the technology solutions used in cloud computing and with virtualization at its core.  Virtualization of network functions enables  5GC to be redesigned and become open and flexible enough to meet the diversity of service and business requirement in 5G era.

5GC will also offer superior network slicing and QoS features. Another important characteristic is the separation of the control plane and user plane that besides adding flexibility in connecting the users also allows an easier way to support a multitude of access technologies, better support for network slicing and edge computing.

5GC proposes a service based architecture  (SBA), which provides unprecedented efficiency and flexibility for the network.  SBA is an architectural for building system based on fine-grained, interaction of loosely coupled and autonomous components called services. This architecture model is chosen to take full advantage of the latest virtualization and software technologies.

Service-based architectures have been in use in the software industry to improve the modularity of products. A software product can be broken down into communicating services. With this approach, the developers can mix and match services from different vendors into a single product.

Compared to the previous generation reference point architecture as EPC, the elements of service based architecture are defined to be the NF (network functions), which interconnect with the rest network functions across a single API calling interface and provide the authorized services to them. Network repository functions (NRF) allows every network function to discover the services offered by other network functions. A service is an atomized capability in a 5G network, with the characteristics of high-cohesion, loose-coupling, and independent management from other services. This allows individual services to be updated independently with minimal impact to other services and deployed on demand. A service is managed based on the service framework including service registration, service authorization, and service discovery. It provides a comprehensive and highly automated management mechanism implemented by NRF, which greatly reduces the complexity of network maintenance. A service will interact with other services in a light-weight manner, e.g. API invocation.

Virtualization and cloud computing have resulted in lowering the cost of computing by pooling resources in shared data centers.

  • 5G core networks can be shrunk in size by using virtualization. Varies components of the core network can be run as communicating virtual machines.
  • Moving the control plane of the 5G core network to a cloud provider lowers the deployment cost.

The 5G core is a mesh of interconnected services as shown in the figure below:

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Ericsson Addendum:

According to Ericsson’s latest Mobility Reportpublished earlier this week, global 5G subscriptions will exceed 2.6bn within the next six years and by that time Ericsson predicts that 5G will cover 65 percent of the world. It also believes that total mobile subscriptions, including to previous generation networks, will reach 8.9bn from 8bn over the next six years. More than quarter of the global subscriptions will be 5G by 2025 and will account for around 45 percent of worldwide mobile data traffic.

Additionally, Ericsson has also announced its partnership with NVIDIA in order to develop technologies that will enable communication service providers to build virtualized 5G radio access networks, which will boost the introduction of new AI and IoT-based services. The ultimate focus will be to commercialize virtualized RAN technologies to offer radio networks with flexibility and ability to enter the market in a shorter time for new services like VR, AR and gaming.

References:

https://www.ericsson.com/en/press-releases/2019/11/ericssons-cloud-packet-core-to-strengthen-sk-telecoms-5g-network2

https://www.gsma.com/futurenetworks/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Road-to-5G-Introduction-and-Migration_FINAL.pdf

https://www.itu.int/dms_pub/itu-t/opb/tut/T-TUT-HOME-2018-2-PDF-E.pdf

https://www.3gpp.org/ftp/Specs/archive/23_series/23.501/

https://www.ericsson.com/en/portfolio/digital-services/cloud-core/cloud-packet-core

https://www.sdxcentral.com/articles/news/ericsson-and-verizon-claim-worlds-first-cloud-native-tech-on-live-core/2019/07/

https://medium.com/5g-nr/5g-service-based-architecture-sba-47900b0ded0a

 

GSA Report: Evolution of LTE to 5G also includes NB-IoT and LTE-M

Pre-standard “5G” roll outs continue and the latest Evolution of LTE to 5G report from GSA identifies 884 operators actively investing in LTE, with 769 operational LTE networks in 225 countries, 194 VoLTE capable networks and 296 operators in 100 countries investing in 5G with 39 – 3GPP Release 15 (5G NR NSA) compliant 5G networks launched – some with limited service.

High end devices are also growing in popularity with more CAT-12 and above devices coming to market and 100 5G devices now announced. GSA expects 5G to be deployed much faster than 4G which took 7 years to reach 100 million subscriptions. We expect 5G to reach 100 million subscriptions in less than 5 years.

GSA Market Research Findings:

• 884 operators actively investing in LTE, including those evaluating/ testing and trialling LTE and those paying for suitable spectrum licences (excludes those using technology neutral licences exclusively for 2G or 3G services).

• 769 operators running LTE networks providing mobile and/or FWA services in 225 countries worldwide.

• 194 commercial VoLTE networks in 91 countries and a total of 262 operators investing in VoLTE in 120 countries.

• 304 launched or launched (limited availability) LTE-Advanced networks in 134 countries. Overall, 335 operators are investing in LTE-Advanced technology in 141 countries.

• Ten launched networks that support user equipment (UE) at Cat-18 DL speeds within limited geographic areas, and one supporting Cat-19 (in a limited area).

• 228 operators with TDD licences and at least 164 operators with launched LTE-TDD networks.

• 151 operators investing in NB-IoT in 72 countries; of these, 98 NB-IoT networks are deployed/launched in 53 countries. 62 operators are investing in LTE-M/Cat-M1 in 36 countries; of these, 38 LTE-M/Cat-M1 networks are deployed/commercially launched in 26 countries. • 296 operators in 100 countries have launched with limited availability, deployed, demonstrated, are testing or trialling, or have been licensed to conduct field trials of mobile 5G or FWA 5G.

• 56 operators in 32 countries have announced the deployment of 5G within their live network.

• 39 operators have announced 3GPP 5G service launches (or limited service launches).

LTE deployments:

The drivers of LTE, LTE-Advanced, LTE-Advanced Pro and increasingly 5G, for operators are more capacity, enhanced performance and improved efficiencies to lower delivery cost. Compared with 3G, LTE offered a big step up in the user experience, enhancing demanding apps such as interactive TV, video blogging, advanced gaming and professional services. Deployment of LTE-Advanced technologies – and particularly carrier aggregation – takes performance to a new level and is a major current focus of the industry. Interest in LTE-Advanced Pro is high too, bringing with it new, globally standardised LPWA solutions – LTE Cat-M1 (LTE-M, eMTC) and Cat-NB1 (NB-IoT) – and new business opportunities. And while LTE-Advanced and LTE-Advanced Pro solutions have yet to be deployed by the majority of operators, vendors and network operators are already looking towards 5G and its potential to meet future capacity, connectivity and service requirements.

Spectrum for LTE deployments:

Pressure for spectrum is high and operators need to deploy the most efficient technologies available. LTE, LTE-Advanced and LTE-Advanced Pro services can be deployed in dozens of spectrum bands starting at 450 MHz and rising to nearly 6 GHz. The most-used bands in commercial LTE networks are 1800 MHz (Band 3), which is a mainstream choice for LTE in most regions; 800 MHz (Band 20 and regional variations) for extending coverage and improving in-building services; 2.6 GHz (FDD Band 7) as a major capacity band; and 700 MHz (with variations in spectrum allocated around the world) again for coverage improvement. The now-completed LTE standards enable the possibility to extend the benefits of LTE-Advanced to unlicensed and shared spectrum.

There are several options for deploying LTE in unlicensed spectrum. The GSA report LTE in Unlicensed and Shared Spectrum: Trials, Deployments and Devices gives details of market progress in the use of LAA, eLAA, LTE-U, LWA and activity in the CBRS band.

Many recent allocations/auctions of spectrum have focused on licensing unused spectrum – including pockets of spectrum in the 2 to 4 GHz range, but also at lower frequencies – for LTE and future 5G services. This spectrum is sometimes dedicated to LTE, sometimes to 5G and sometimes allocated on a technology-neutral basis.

VoLTE global status:

In total GSA has identified 262 operators investing in VoLTE in 120 countries, including 194 operators that have launched VoLTE voice services in 91 countries. There have been recent launches in India, Hungary, Iran, Maldives, Kenya, Mexico, Tuvalu, Ireland, New Zealand and Nieu.

GSA is aware of at least 30 operators deploying VoLTE and nearly 40 other operators planning VoLTE or are testing/trialling the technology. The GSA report VoLTE and ViLTE: Global Market Update, published in August 2019, gives more detail.

LTE-Advanced global status:

Investment in LTE-Advanced networks continues to grow. By July 2019, there were 304 commercially launched LTE-Advanced networks in 134 countries. Overall, 335 operators are investing in LTE-Advanced (in the form of tests, trials, deployments or commercial service provision) in 141 countries.

Many operators with LTE-Advanced networks are looking to extend their capabilities by adding 3GPP Release 13 or Release 14 LTE-Advanced Pro features, e.g. those making use of carrier aggregation of large numbers of channels, or carriers across TDD and FDD modes, LAA, massive MIMO, Mission-Critical Push-to-Talk, LTE Cat-NB1/NB-IoT or LTE-M/Cat-M1.

The GSA report LTE in Unlicensed and Shared Spectrum: Trials, Deployments and Devices tracks the progress of LAA/eLAA, LWA and LTE-U. By July 2019, there were 37 operators investing in LAA (including eight deployed/launched networks), 11 operators investing in LTE-U (including three launched/deployed networks) and three investing in LWA (including one launched network). One operator had undertaken trials of eLAA.

Carrier aggregation has been the dominant feature of LTE-Advanced networks. Varying numbers of carriers and varying amounts of total bandwidth have been aggregated in trials and demos, but in commercial networks, the greatest number of carriers aggregated (where we have data) is five. Some trials and demos have also aggregated up to ten carriers, for instance SK Telecom’s trial in South Korea.

Pre-standard 5G global status:

GSA has identified 296 operators in 100 countries that have launched (limited availability or non-3GPP networks), demonstrated, are testing or trialling, or have been licensed to conduct field trials of 5G-enabling and candidate technologies (up from 235 operators in May 2019).

Detailed analysis of speeds and spectrum used for 5G trials to date is available in the report Global Progress to 5G – Trials, Deployments and Launches on the GSA website. Operators continue to provide clarity about their intentions in terms of launch timetables for 5G or pre-standards 5G. GSA has identified 56 operators in 32 countries that have stated that they have activated one or more 5G sites within their live commercial network (excludes those that have only deployed test sites).

The number that have announced the launch of commercial services remains much lower however, as operators have had to await the availability of 5G devices. These have now started to appear, removing the market blockage.

GSA has identified 100 announced devices (excluding regional variants and prototypes) and a handful of these are now available for customers to buy and use. See GSA’s report 5G Device Ecosystem, published monthly, for more details.

GSA knows of 39 operators who have (as of 6 August 2019) announced 3GPP compatible 5G service launches (either mobile or FWA, some with limited availability): we understand there are ten operators with FWA-only services, 15 with mobile-only services, and 14 with both mobile and FWA services. All services are initially restricted in terms of either geographic availability, devices availability, or the types and numbers of customers being provided with services.

Among recent service launches (or limited service launches) are those by three operators in Kuwait (Viva, Zain and Ooredoo), Batelco in Bahrain, T-Mobile and Vodafone in Germany, Vodafone in the UK, Digi Mobile in Romania, Monaco Telecom and Dhiraagu in the Maldives.

Cellular LPWANs for IoT:

The start of 2019 has continued to see strong growth in the number of cellular IoT networks based on NB-IoT and LTE-M. By July 2019, there were 151 operators investing in NB IoT in 72 countries, up from 148 operators in 71 countries in May 2019. The number of deployed/launched NB-IoT networks was 98 in 53 countries, up from 78 operators in 45 countries in January 2019. There are 62 operators investing in LTE-M networks in 36 countries, up from 57 operators in 34 countries in January 2019. Thirty-eight operators have deployed/launched LTE-M networks in 26 countries, up from 30 operators in January 2019. Orange Spain launched its LTE-M network in June 2019.

Altogether 55 countries now have at least either a launched NB-IoT network or a launched LTE-M network and 24 of those countries have both network types.

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GSA will continue tracking the progress of 5G deployments worldwide. GSA reports are compiled from data stored in the GSA Analyser for Mobile Broadband Devices/Data (GAMBoD) database, which is a GSA Member and Associate benefit.

Much of the GSA activity is working on spectrum and the upcoming WRC-19 conference in October/November. If you would like to meet up with GSA in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt at the conference,  please email admin@gsacom.com

ITU-R WP5D Brazil Meeting: Complete IMT 2020 RIT/SRITs from 3GPP, China & Korea advance; Nufront submits new EUHT RIT

SOURCE: Meeting Report of ITU-R WP5D Working Group on Technology Aspects (17 July 2019)

IMT-2020 RIT/SRITs:

This past week’s 32nd meeting of ITU-R WP 5D in Brazil was a milestone for the IMT-2020 process described in Document IMT 2020/2(Rev.1): Step 3 – submission / reception of the RIT and SRIT proposals and acknowledgement of receipt.

Seven submissions of candidate IMT-2020 RIT/SRITs were received at this meeting.  Importantly, some were updates to their previous submissions.

  1. 3GPP – RIT
  2. 3GPP  -SRIT
  3. China (People’s Republic of)
  4. South Korea (Republic of)
  5. ETSI (TC DECT) and DECT Forum
  6. TSDSI (India)
  7. Nufront [1]

Note 1. At this week’s ITU-R WP5D meeting in Brazil, Nufront (Beijing) Technology Co. Ltd (Nufront) proposed ‘EUHTRIT as the candidate IMT-2020 radio interface technology. The Nufront new candidate RIT is in addition to the RIT/SRITs previously input by 3GPP, China, South Korea, TSDSI (India), ETSI/DECT Forum.

Nufront provided the characteristics template, link budget template, compliance template, and self-evaluation report of the EUHT RIT. The submission templates follow the ITU-R IMT-2020 submission format and guidelines as defined in Report ITU‑R M.2411.

–>Please refer to my Comment in the box below this article.  It provides background on motivation for Nufront’s EUHT RIT proposal and their (failed) attempt to get IEEE 802.11AX to be included as either a merged RIT or a SRITs.

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After review of all the submissions (see Table 1. below) under the IMT-2020 process Step 3 (the cut off date for submissions of candidate IMT 2020 RIT/SRITs), the meeting determined that the submissions from 3GPP (SRIT and RIT), China and Korea are “complete” per section 5 of Report ITU-R M.2411.  Therefore, they fulfilled the requirements for submission in Step 3 of the IMT-2020 process.

The meeting is of the view that, the supplied self-evaluation and any amendments accepted during this meeting for the submissions of ETSI (TC DECT) and DECT Forum (the component RIT DECT-2020 NR), Nufront and TSDSI do not yet permit WP 5D to determine if a complete and satisfactory self-evaluation as required by the IMT-2020 process has been fully provided.

A way forward for these submissions has been agreed by the meeting (Doc. 5D/TEMP/778-only available to those who have a TIES account). The Proponents should provide the full details requested in the process and in the specifically defined way to WP 5D, considering the comments raised in this meeting, in order for WP 5D to proceed further in the process with the submissions.

A decision on the submission above shall be taken in 33rd meeting WP 5D in December 2019.
For convenience, these submitted proposals are also posted on the “Web page for IMT-2020 submission and evaluation process.”

Under the IMT-2020 submission and evaluation process, the ITU-R will now proceed with the detailed evaluation of the proposed candidate technologies until 34th meeting of WP 5D in February 2020.

Table 1. Candidate RIT/SRIT Submissions from 3GPP, China, Korea, ETSI and DECT Forum, Nufront and TSDSI:

Seven submissions of candidate IMT-2020 RIT/SRITs were received at this meeting; some were updates to their previous submissions.

Table 3.4.3.A  (documents listed are only available to those who have a TIES account with itu.int)

RIT/SRIT Proponent Candidate Technology Submission
3GPP – SRIT Docs. 5D/1215 and 5D/1216
3GPP – RIT Docs. 5D/1215 and 5D/1217
China (People’s Republic of) Doc. 5D/1268
Korea (Republic of) Doc. 5D/1233
ETSI (TC DECT) and DECT Forum Docs. 5D/1230 and 5D/1253
Nufront Doc. 5D/1238
TSDSI Doc. 5D/1231

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IMT-2020/VVV:

The meeting agreed to complete this document (IMT-2020/VVV) at this meeting, rather than the original plan of the #34 meeting. During development of the document, it was agreed to follow the approach adopted by WP 5D for the development of IMT-Advanced (aka “LTE Advanced).

The finalized new IMT-2020/VVV document on “Process and use of the Global Core Specification (GCS), references, and related certifications in conjunction with Recommendation ITU-R M.[IMT-2020.SPECS]” is in Document 5D/TEMP/728 (only available to those who have a TIES account).

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Synchronization of multiple IMT-2020 TDD networks:

This meeting received two input documents and continued the discussion. It was decided to carry forward all the input documents and to continue the work at the WP 5D #34 meeting in February 2020 (see Objectives for meeting #34 below).

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Documents for consideration by WP 5D closing plenary:

The following documents were agreed by WG Technology Aspects and were provided to WP 5D closing plenary for approval.

  1. Draft IMT-2020/VVV − Process and the use of Global Core Specification (GCS), references and related certifications in conjunction with Recommendation ITU R M.[IMT-2020.SPECS]
  2. Draft IMT-2020 document − Detailed schedule for finalization of the first release of new Recommendation ITU-R M.[IMT-2020.SPECS] “Detailed specifications of the terrestrial radio interfaces of International Mobile Telecommunications-2020 (IMT-2020)”
  3. Liaison statement to External Organizations on the detailed schedule for finalization of the first release of new Recommendation ITU-R M.[IMT‑2020.SPECS]
  4. Liaison statement to 3GPP proponent concerning the time interval to provide transposing references for IMT 2020
  5.  Many more documents, which are beyond the scope of the IEEE Techblog

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Objectives for the ITU-R WP 5D meetings #33 and #34:

I. The next ITU-R WP 5D meeting #33, scheduled to be held in December 2019, will be entirely focused on the activities of the Technology Aspects Working Group. It should be noted that neither the General Aspects Working Group nor the Spectrum Aspects Working Group will be in session at the 33rd meeting. The next meeting at which Working Group Spectrum Aspects will be in session will be at the 34th meeting of WP 5D scheduled to be held in February 2020.

5D meeting #33 will be a focused meeting on the following technology aspects and will include the workshop on evaluation of IMT-2020 terrestrial radio interfaces (Doc. 5D/TEMP/809):

  1. Review additional materials to be provided by the candidate IMT-2020 RIT/SRIT proponents ETSI (TC DECT) and DECT Forum, Nufront and TSDSI, per the agreed way forward at the 32nd WP 5D meeting with regard to their respective submissions;
  2. Review of external activities in Independent Evaluation Groups through interim evaluation reports.
  • Continue work on revision of Recommendation ITU-R M.1457-14

Note: SWG Out of band emissions and SWG Radio Aspects will not have any session at the WP 5D #33 meeting. Contributions to the respective work items would be considered at the WP 5D #34 meeting.

II. The key objectives of the Technology Aspects WG for the 34th ITU-R WP 5D meeting:

  1. Review of external activities and evaluation reports of Independent Evaluation Groups. Complete evaluation reports summary (IMT-2020/ZZZ).
  2. Continue the work on “Over-the-air (OTA) TRP field measurements for IMT radio equipment utilizing AAS” based on the requested response from 3GPP and expected input from other organisations and administrations.
  • Continue work on revision of Recommendation ITU-R M.1457-14.
  • Continue work on synchronization of multiple IMT-2020 TDD networks.

Special Details About WP 5D Meeting #33 – December 2019:

This is a focused Technology Aspects Working Group meeting on the conclusion of Step 3, continuation of Step 4, and the evaluation of IMT-2020 submitted candidate technologies including a Workshop, and related matters.  Sessions of the meeting of the Working Groups and their SWGs in WP 5D meeting #33 are:

Working Groups/SWGs
Technology Aspects IN SESSION
SWG COORDINATION

SWG EVALUATION

SWG IMT SPECIFICATIONS

IN SESSION
General Aspects NOT in session
Spectrum Aspects NOT in Session
Ad Hoc Workplan IN SESSION –

ONLY for matters directly related to the Technology Aspects WG

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Appendix I:  High-level scopes for Working Party 5D working and Ad hoc Groups:

Group Scope Chairman
WG GENERAL ASPECTS –    To develop deliverables on services, forecasts, and also convergence of services of fixed and mobile networks which take account the needs of end users, and the demand for IMT capabilities and supported services. This includes aspects regarding the continued deployment of IMT, other general topics of IMT and overall objectives for the long-term development of IMT. To update the relevant IMT Recommendations/Reports.

–    To ensure that the requirements and needs of the developing countries are reflected in the work and deliverables of WP 5D in the development of IMT. This includes coordination of work with ITU-D Sector on deployments of IMT systems and transition to IMT system.

K.J. WEE

Korea

WG TECHNOLOGY ASPECTS –    To provide the technology related aspects of IMT through development of Recommendations and Reports. To update the relevant IMT‑2000 and IMT-Advanced Recommendations.  To work on key elements of IMT technologies including requirements, evaluation, and evolution. To develop liaison with external research and standardization forums, and to coordinate the external and internal activities related to the IMT-2020 process.

–    To manage the research topics website and its findings.

H. WANG

China

WG SPECTRUM ASPECTS –    To undertake co-existence studies, develop spectrum plans, and channel/frequency arrangements for IMT. This includes spectrum sharing between IMT and other radio services/systems coordinating as appropriate with other Working Parties in ITU-R. A. JAMIESON

New Zealand

AD HOC WORKPLAN –    To coordinate the work of WP 5D to facilitate efficient and timely progress of work items. H. OHLSEN

Sweden

 

Appendix II: Work with involved organizations, including research entities:

The strategy for ITU-R WP 5D going forward is to gather information from the organizations involved in the global research and development and those that have an interest in the future development of IMT and to inform them of the framework and technical requirements in order to build consensus on a global level.

ITU-R WP 5D can play an essential role to promote and encourage these research activities towards common goals and to ensure that information from the WP 5D development on the vision, spectrum issues, envisioned new services and technical requirements are widespread among the research community. In the same manner, WP 5D encourages inputs from the external communities involved in these research and technology developments.

It is evident that continuing dialogue between the ITU and the entities taking part in research is a key to the continuing success of the industry in advancing and expanding the global wireless marketplace.

Working Party 5D, as is the case with all ITU organizations, works from input contributions submitted by members of the ITU. In order to facilitate receipt of information from external entities who may not be direct members of ITU, the Radiocommunication Bureau Secretariat may be considered as the point of interface, in accordance with Resolution ITU-R 9‑5.

The following major activities are foreseen to take place outside of the ITU, including WP 5D, in order to successfully complement the WP 5D work:

–Research on new technologies to address the new elements and new capabilities of IMT‑2020;

–Ongoing development of specifications for IMT and subsequent enhancements.

Appendix III: Agreed overall deliverables/work plan of WP 5D and technical requirements in order to build consensus on a global level:

The following table provides the schedule of when approval of the planned major deliverables will be achieved following the procedures of WP 5D.

Date Meeting Anticipated Milestones
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 Addendum 5 to Circular Letter IMT‑2020

•     Finalize draft new Report M.[IMT.AAS]

•     Finalize draft new Report ITU-R M.[HAPS-IMT]

•     Finalize draft new Report ITU-R M.[IMT.1 452-1 492 MHz]

•     Finalize draft new Report ITU-R M.[IMT.MS/MSS.2GHz]

•     Further update/Finalize draft new Report/Recommendation ITU-R
M.[IMT.1518 MHz COEXISTENCE]

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 Addendum 7 to Circular Letter IMT‑2020 (if needed)

•     Finalize revision 15 of Recommendation M.1457

November 2020 Geneva WP 5D #36bis

(3 day meeting)

•     Finalize draft new Recommendation ITU-R M.[IMT‑2020.SPECS]

•     Finalize Addendum [7/8] to Circular Letter IMT‑2020

Appendix IV: Detailed workplan for the development of a working document towards a preliminary draft new Report ITU-R M.[IMT-2020 BROADBAND REMOTE COVERAGE]:

Source:       Document 5D/TEMP/760 (Ericsson)

Title “IMT-2020 for remote sparsely populated areas providing high data rate coverage”
Identifier M.[IMT-2020 TERRESTRIAL BROADBAND REMOTE COVERAGE]
Document type Report
WP 5D Lead Group WG Technology Aspects
SWG Chair Marc Grant, AT&T
Editor <TBD>
Focus for scope and work This Report provides details on prospects associated with provisioning of enhanced mobile broadband services to remote sparsely populated and under-served areas proposing enhancements of user equipment as well as for networks in suitable frequency bands:

−    for user equipment, possible solutions based on affordable user deployed RF amplifier equipment combined with access to local spectrum could be considered and examined; and

−    for networks, possible solutions based on high gain massive MIMO antennas could be reviewed.

Related documents Question ITU-R 77-7/5 − “Consideration of the needs of developing countries in the development and implementation of IMT”

Question ITU-R 229-4/5 − “Further development of the terrestrial component of IMT”

Milestones Meeting No. 32 (9-17 July 2019, Búzios, Brazil)

1    Call for contributions in the WP 5D Chairman’s Report.

Meeting No. 33 ([10-13 December 2019, Geneva, Switzerland])

1    [No sessions scheduled].

Meeting No. 34 (19-26 February 2020, <TBD>)

1    Consider received contributions.

2    Draft liaison statements as required.

3    Produce working document.

3    Review and revise the detailed workplan as required.

Meeting No. 35 (24 June – 1 July 2020, [China]))

1    Consider the received contributions.

2    Consider any necessary liaison statements.

3    Elevate the working document to a preliminary draft new Report.

4    Review and revise the detailed workplan as required.

Meeting No. 36 (7-14 October 2020, [India])

1    Consider the received contributions.

2    Consider any necessary liaison statements.

3    Elevate the preliminary draft new Report to a draft new Report for submission to Study Group 5.

 

…………………………………………………………………………………………………

Update- Addendum 4 to Circular Letter 5/LCCE/59 24 July 2019:

To Administrations of Member States of the ITU, Radiocommunication Sector Members, ITU-R Associates participating in the work of Radiocommunication Study Group 5 and ITU Academia

Subject:  Acknowledgement of IMT-2020 proposals, future plans and evaluation report requests

Evaluation Workshop:
WP 5D will hold a Workshop on “IMT-2020 Terrestrial Radio Interfaces Evaluation” from 10 to 11 December, 2019 during its 33rd meeting to provide an interactive discussion among IEGs, proponents and WP 5D delegates.

The workshop will be held at the same venue as the 33rd meeting of WP 5D. The program of the workshop and detailed information about the workshop registration can be found on the “Web page for IMT-2020 submission and evaluation process” (under “Workshop on IMT-2020 Terrestrial Radio Interfaces Evaluation”). Parties interested in the details of the workshop (program, registration deadline, etc.) are kindly requested to check the workshop website periodically before the 33rd WP 5D meeting.

Evaluation Group discussion area:
The Evaluation Group discussion area can be found on “Web page for IMT-2020 submission and evaluation process.”

This discussion area is to exchange views on the characteristics of the proposed radio interface(s) technologies submitted by proponents and to discuss evaluation related issues among IEGs and the proponents.

The discussion area is available on a subscription basis for ITU-R members, designated representatives of the proponents of candidate technology submissions and designated representatives of the IEGs. Focal points of both the proponents and IEGs are requested to provide details of the designated representatives. IEGs and proponents are encouraged to participate in the Evaluation Group discussion area, and share the experiences that might be helpful to progress the evaluation activities.

Request for evaluation reports:
Following the IMT-2020 process on “Submission/Reception of the RIT and SRIT proposals and acknowledgement of receipt” in accordance with Document IMT-2020/2(Rev.2), WP 5D started the evaluation process from its 31st meeting in October 2018, and will last until its 34th meeting in February 2020.

Therefore, WP 5D expects to receive the final evaluation reports from the Independent Evaluation Groups on those IMT-2020 candidate technology RIT(s)/SRIT(s) that have been evaluated by its 34th meeting. While WP 5D kindly requests the independent evaluation groups to provide an interim
evaluation report for its 33rd meeting in December 2019 in which the Workshop on IMT-2020 evaluation will also be held.  It is also suggested that the evaluation reports contain information including the use of Report ITU-R M.2412, the considered test environment(s), the evaluated RIT(s)/ SRIT(s), and the evaluation results as requested by the compliance templates, but not limited to those. It is also requested that the interim evaluation report includes as much detail about the evaluation as possible.

Revision to Document IMT-2020/2:
Revision 2 to Document IMT-2020/2 “Submission, evaluation process and consensus building for IMT-2020”, is now available on “IMT-2020 documents”. This revision contains an additional WP 5D meeting planned in November 2020 to complete the Recommendation for detailed specifications of radio interface technologies for the terrestrial components of IMT-2020.

Updates to the ITU-R web page for the IMT-2020 submission and evaluation process and IMT-2020 documents Any future changes to the submission and evaluation process will be announced in Addenda to this
Circular Letter. Other information, such as information on the Workshop on IMT-2020 Terrestrial Radio Interfaces Evaluation, and interim evaluation report(s) will be updated dynamically on the “Web page for IMT-2020 submission and evaluation process” and “IMT-2020 documents.”

Consequently, Members and Sector members interested in the IMT-2020 development process including evaluation activities are kindly requested to periodically check the website.

Mario Maniewicz
Director

 

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