T-Mobile has deployed commercial Voice over 5G (VoNR, or Voice Over (5G) New Radio) service in limited areas of Portland, Oregon and Salt Lake City, Utah. The Un-carrier plans to expand VoNR to many more areas this year. Now that Standalone 5G (5G SA) is beginning to carry voice traffic with the launch of VoNR, other real 5G services, such as network slicing and security are likely to be deployed. T-Mobile customers with Samsung Galaxy S21 5G smartphones can take advantage of VoNR today in select areas.
“We don’t just have the leading 5G network in the country. T-Mobile is setting the pace for providers around the globe as we push the industry forward – now starting to roll out another critical service over 5G,” said Neville Ray, President of Technology at T-Mobile. “5G is already driving new levels of engagement, transforming how our customers use their smartphones and bringing unprecedented connectivity to areas that desperately need it. And it’s just going to get better thanks to the incredible T-Mobile team and our partners who are tirelessly innovating and advancing the capabilities of 5G every day.”
Standalone 5G removes the need for an underlying 4G LTE network and 4G core, so 5G can reach its true potential. In other words, it’s “pure 5G”, and T-Mobile was the first in the world to deliver it nationwide nearly two years ago.
The addition of VoNR takes T-Mobile’s standalone 5G network to the next level by enabling it to carry voice calls, keeping customers seamlessly connected to 5G. In the near-term, customers connected to VoNR will notice slightly faster call set-up times, meaning less delay between the time they dial a number and when the phone starts ringing. But VoNR is not just about a better calling experience. Most importantly, VoNR brings T-Mobile one step closer to truly unleashing its standalone 5G network because it enables advanced capabilities like network slicing that rely on a continuous connection to a 5G core.
“VoNR represents the next step in the 5G maturity journey-an application that exists and operates in a complete end-to-end 5G environment,” says Jason Leigh, research manager, 5G & Mobility at IDC. “Migrating to VoNR will be a key factor in developing new immersive app experiences that need to tap into the full bandwidth, latency and density benefits offered by a 5G standalone network.”
“The commercial launch of the VoNR service is another important step in T-Mobile’s successful 5G deployment,” said Fredrik Jejdling, Executive Vice President and Head of Business Area Networks at Ericsson. “It demonstrates how we as partners can introduce 5G voice based on the Ericsson solution.”
“We are proud of our partnership with T-Mobile to bring the full capabilities of 5G to customers in the United States,” said Tommi Uitto, President, Nokia Mobile Networks. “Nokia’s radio and core solutions power T-Mobile’s 5G standalone network – and this VoNR deployment is a critical step forward for the new 5G voice ecosystem.”
“At Samsung, we want to give our users the best possible 5G experience on every device – and today’s announcement represents a big step forward,” said Jude Buckley, Executive Vice President, Mobile eXperience at Samsung Electronics America. “By supporting extensive integration and testing, and working alongside an industry leader like T-Mobile, we’re bringing to life all the benefits of 5G technology with the help of our Samsung Galaxy devices.”
VoNR is available for customers in parts of Portland, Ore. and Salt Lake City with the Samsung Galaxy S21 5G and is expected to expand to more areas and more 5G smartphones this year including the Galaxy S22.
T-Mobile is the U.S. leader in 5G with the country’s largest, fastest and most reliable 5G network. The Un-carrier’s Extended Range 5G covers nearly everyone in the country – 315 million people across 1.8 million square miles. 225 million people nationwide are covered with super-fast Ultra Capacity 5G, and T-Mobile expects to cover 260 million in 2022 and 300 million next year.
Voice Over NR Network Architecture:
Voice Over NR network Architecture is consist of 5G RAN, 5G Core and IMS network. A high level architecture is shown below. (Only major network functions are included). This network architecture supports Service based interface using HTPP protocol.
VoNR Key Pointers:
- VoNR rely upon IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) to manage the setup, maintenance and release or voice call connections.
- UE PDCP should support RTP and RTCP, RoHC compression and MAC layer should support DRX
- SIP is used for signaling procedures between the UE and IMS.
- VoNR uses a QoS Flow with 5QI= 5 for SIP signaling messages and QoS Flow with 5QI= 1
- QoS Flows with 5QI= 5 is non-GBR but should be treated with high priority to ensure that SIP signaling procedures are completed with minimal latency and high reliability.
- QoS Flow with 5QI= 1 is GBR. This QoS Flow is used to transfer the speech packets after connection establishment
- gNB uses RLC-AM mode DRB for SIP signaling and RLC-UM mode for Voice Traffic (RTP) DRBs
- 3GPP has recommended ‘Enhanced Voice Services’ (EVS) codecs for 5G
- EVS codec supports a range of sampling frequencies to capture a range of audio bandwidths.
- These sampling frequencies are categorized as Narrowband, Wideband, Super Wideband and Full band.
- VoNR UE provides capability information during the NAS: Registration procedure with IE ‘ UE’s Usage Setting’ indicates that the higher layers of the UE support the IMS Voice service.
- The AMF can use the UE Capability Request to get UE’s support for IMS Voice services. gNB can get UE Capability with RRC: UE Capability Enquiry and UE Capability response to the UE. The UE indicates its support for IMS voice service with following IEs
- ims-VoiceOverNR-FR1-r15: This field indicates whether the UE supports IMS voice over NR FR1
- ims-VoiceOverNR-FR2-r15: This field indicates whether the UE supports IMS voice over NR FR2
- within feature set support IE ims-Parameters: ims-ParametersFRX-Diff, voiceOverNR : supported
5G non-standalone (5G NSA) networks, voice services were enabled by continued use of LTE and 2G/3G infrastructures, but 5G standalone networks (5G SA) – both public and private – require a new approach. They need to be able to carry QoS-guaranteed voice services (as opposed to over-the-top voice applications), but there is no legacy infrastructure to fall back on.
Voice over New Radio (VoNR) [1.] is designed to meet this challenge. VoNR is also expected to bring improvements in latency, call quality and improved integration with applications and services using 5G data at the same time. VoNR is anticipated to drive innovation in conferencing, augmented and virtual reality applications over 5G networks.
Note 1. 5G NR is the essence of standardized 5G RAN as per 3GPP Release 15, 16 and ITU-R M2150 recommendation for 5G RIT/SRIT. However, VoNR requires a 5G SA core network rather than using LTE signaling and core (EPC).
Additionally, there needs to be a mechanism for devices to use to LTE, or 2G/3G voice networks when outside the coverage of a 5G standalone network. EPS Fallback (EPS-FB) is an early introduction step to VoNR until sufficient NR low-band or low mid-band coverage has been deployed.
The Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) announced that 42 devices and 40 5G chipsets from four vendors have been announced supporting Voice over New Radio (VoNR) technology. This includes five discrete modems and 35 mobile processors/platforms. Of these, 36 are known to be commercially available, including four discrete modems and 32 mobile processors and platforms. Chipsets are commercially available from Mediatek, Qualcomm, Samsung and Unisoc.
In the GSA’s latest VoNR Market Report, the industry group found that numerous network operators are heavily investing in the new voice technology for their 5G standalone networks. To date, GSA has catalogued 16 operators publicly announced as investing in VoNR in some way or another. Of those, eight are evaluating/testing/trialing, three are understood to be planning to deploy, three
are deploying the technology, one has soft launched VoNR services and one is offering limited VoNR as part of a market trial of its new 5G SA network.
This past June, Deutsche Telekom (DT) and partners announced the successful completion of the world’s first 5G Voice over New Radio (VoNR) call in an end to end multi-vendor environment. T-Mobile, which is majority owned by DT, is also pursuing VoNR as per this article.
The VoNR call service fully utilizes 5G SA architecture for an improved high definition quality call experience, while providing 5G speeds for data-driven activities throughout the duration of the voice calls In comparison to calls made on the 5G non-standalone (NSA) network, which rides on existing 4G networks, the VoNR service boasts faster call setup time and seamless voice call continuity, presenting M1 customers with the true 5G experience. M1 customers will be able to enjoy the benefits of VoNR service as M1 gears up for its 5G SA market trial launch on the 27th of July.
The two companies said that VoNR service will open up numerous 5G SA-enabled data services and provide the baseline for quality video conferencing or augmented and virtual reality features, offering a glimpse into the possible connectivity solutions 5G SA will enable M1 to bring to its subscribers. This author is quite skeptical of that claim.
The underlying technology relies on the network having a 5G Core and IMS architecture (IP Multimedia Subsystem, a standard used for voice over LTE (VoLTE) and now voice over 5G networks). M1 also said it was the world’s first to implement VoNR, although that claim also was made by Deutsche Telekom, who implemented VoNR using multiple 5G vendors.
According to M1, VoNR offers faster call setup times, more seamless voice call continuity, and an improved high definition quality call experience when compared to calls made via 5G non-standalone (5G NSA) networks. [5G NSA technology relies on a 4G- LTE anchor for everything except data transmission.]
The new VoNR feature will be available as an over-the-air update to compatible 5G Samsung devices on M1’s 5G Booster Plan, on top of getting data speeds “almost five times faster than 4G.”
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, S21+ and S21 customers on M1 network will be amongst the first in the world to enjoy the benefits of the VoNR network via an over-the-air software update on M1’s 5G Booster Plan. Customers can also look forward to seamless connectivity with an ultra-fast data speed rate that is almost five times faster than 4G. Furthermore, paired with Samsung’s 5G compatible devices, multi-tasking is possible with remarkable productivity improvement.
“We have once again reached a groundbreaking milestone in our 5G SA journey – to be the first in the world to successfully support VoNR service on our 5G SA network. We are glad to work with a like-minded partner like Samsung to achieve high quality call and better 5G experience for our customers. With M1’s imminent market trial of the 5G SA network, we are excited to leverage 5G SA’s low latency, ultra-responsive, highly secured and high-throughput mobile connectivity to deliver high performance and reliable 5G services for our consumers and enterprises. This step in our 5G implementation journey is in line with the Keppel Group’s Vision 2030, which includes enhancing connectivity for communities,” said Mr. Denis Seek, Chief Technical Officer, M1.
“Samsung is proud to play a pioneering role in placing Singapore at the forefront of network technology innovation, turning on next-generation service in the country. Committed to inspiring the world and shaping the future with transformative ideas and technologies, we are taking a meaningful step in realising the full potential of 5G for consumers and industries. With VoNR, we look forward to delivering more transformative experiences to customers and businesses with M1,” said Ms. Sarah Chua, Vice-President, IT and mobile, Samsung Electronics Singapore.