News Feature | June 15, 2018

The Week In 5G: 6/15/2018 – 3GPP Approves Standalone 5G Specs, NYC Accelerates 5G Deployment, Australia Rethinks 5G Plans Involving Huawei

By Jof Enriquez,
Follow me on Twitter @jofenriq

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The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), the collaboration of seven telecom standards associations and over 600 mobile industry companies, has approved the standalone (SA) Release 15 5G specifications in a move that members described as "the final sprint towards 5G commercialization." Standalone specifications complement the 5G NR specifications for non-standalone (NSA) operation, which was released by 3GPP in December 2017.

“Two years ago, 5G was seen as a vision or even just a hype. With the closing of Rel-15 3GPP has made 5G a reality within a very short time. The outcome is an amazing set of standards that will not only provide higher data rates and bandwidth to end customers but which is open and flexible enough to satisfy the communication needs of different industries — 5G will be the integration platform for heterogeneous businesses,” said Georg Mayer, Chairman of 3GPP TSG CT.

For consumers, 5G will allow ultra-high-definition videos over high-bandwidth cellular connections, which also will pave the way for virtual reality/augmented reality (VR/AR) to go mainstream. CNET reports that the number of connected or "smart" Internet of Things (IoT) devices could quintuple over the next five years — to 3.5 billion devices — as new high-speed 5G networks turn operational to handle their traffic, according to telecom equipment maker Ericsson.

With 5G, several industrial applications are expected to be revolutionized, including advanced factory automation, autonomous vehicles, and bringing entire city infrastructures online, according to Venture Beat.

New York City is doing just that, with an ambitious plan to install small cells in nearly 9,000 municipal light poles and utility poles across the city's five boroughs. NYC's Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DOITT) this week started to accept proposals from companies to build the necessary infrastructure to provide 5G services.

“Today, mobile service is indispensable to millions of New Yorkers, who depend on it for work, education, and communication,” said Samir Saini, commissioner of DOITT, reports StateScoop, “This RFP takes innovative and important steps to deliver the best, fastest service to as many New Yorkers as possible, helping New York City become the fairest and the most tech-friendly city in the world.”

NYC is one of 23 major metros in the United States set to receive mobile 5G services from AT&T by next year.

In other news this week, Australia is set to exclude Chinese telecoms company Huawei from supplying equipment for the country's nascent 5G networks. Multiple sources have told The Australian Financial Review (AFR) that Australia's national security agencies are concerned about Huawei's ties to the Chinese government and have advised against allowing Huawei to bid for 5G contracts. Business Insider reports that one source said the advice will be "very direct" and provide "very little wiggle room" for Huawei to participate in Australia's 5G rollout.

The Australian government has been conducting a full national security assessment on Huawei following cybersecurity concerns raised by U.S. security officials involving Huawei and another Chinese firm, ZTE. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull reportedly will formally announce the decision soon.

However, in response to AFR's article, Huawei’s Australian chairman John Lord told the ABC that he had not been advised of any government decision to block the company’s participation in the 5G network on security grounds, and he said his executives were being “welcomed” in Canberra on Thursday, reports The Guardian.

Meanwhile, Italy's 5G rollout is expected to proceed as planned, with an impending auction of frequencies for 5G mobile services, despite some legal hurdles. Private broadcaster Mediaset and media group Cairo Communication have filed an appeal with a regional court, petitioning against rules set for the auction, sources told Reuters.

“The concerns raised by some operators can be addressed with some technical adjustments at the ministry level,” said Antonio Nicita, commissioner of AGCOM, Italy's national communications authority, which expects to net at least 2.5 billion euros ($2.96 billion) from the 5G spectrum auction.