The specifications of 5G NR in Standalone operation in June 2018, provides a complete set of specifications for the 5G Core Network that goes beyond Non-Standalone. The three major usage scenarios defined for 5G include;
- Enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB)
- Ultra-reliable and low latency communications (URLLC)
- Massive machine type communications (mMTC)
The first roll-out of 5G wireless network will focus on enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) to provide higher data-bandwidth and connection reliability via two NR frequency ranges:
- Range 1 extends 4G LTE, from 450 MHz to 6,000 MHz. These bands are specified from 1 to 255 and this is mainly referred to as New Radio (NR) or sub-6GHz.
- Range 2 is at a much higher frequency 24,250 MHz (~24GHz) to 52,600 MHz (~52GHz). These bands are specified from 257 to 511 and this is referred to as millimeter wave (mmWave).
Difference between NSA and SA
The 3GPP specification for 5G states that the first roll-out of 5G networks and devices will be brought under Non-Standalone (NSA) operation, which is to say that the 5G networks will be supported by existing 4G infrastructure. Thus, 5G-enabled devices will connect to 5G frequencies for data throughput but will still use 4G for non-data features such as connecting to the base stations and servers.
The 5G Standalone (SA) network and device standard is still under review and is expected to be signed-off by 3GPP later this year. The advantage of Standalone is easier and better efficiency, which will reduce the cost of the devices, and improve performance in data throughput up to the border of the network, while also helping development of wireless use cases such as ultra-reliable low latency communications (URLLC).
Once the SA standard is approved this year, the transformation from 5G NSA to SA by operators should be available to the beneficiaries.