5G Radio Evolution in 3GPP Release 17: Features and Functionalities

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5G Radio Evolution in 3GPP Release 17: Features and Functionalities

Planning for 5G NR evolution in Release 17 from 3GPP RAN #86 (December 2019)

The 5G ecosystem is building out to be substantially more versatile than LTE driven by a variety of stakeholders, spanning the traditional cellular industry, diverse industry verticals and the non-terrestrial network ecosystem. The Release 17 work programme is a testament to the commitment of  and towards these stakeholders.

RAN #86 defined the features and their functionalities across RAN 1, RAN 2 and RAN 3: physical layer, radio protocol and radio architecture enhancements. 

RAN 1 Physical Layer Enhancements - work starting in Q1-2020, on features that are important for the overall efficiency and performance of 5G NR: MIMO, spectrum sharing enhancements, UE power saving and coverage enhancements. 

Study and specification work will focus on enhancing the physical layer to support frequency bands beyond 56 GHz up to 71 GHz.

Release 17 content for RAN 1 includes:

  •  NR sidelink enhancements: Addressing automotive and critical communication needs.  
  •  NR Industrial IoT/URLLC enhancements: Adding further functionalities to the rich set of capabilities to better support low llatency and industrial IoT requirements. 
  •  IoT over NTN: Initial studies, paving the way for the introduction of both NB-IoT and eMTC support for satellites.
  •  NR over NTN: satellite and High-altitude Platforms (HAPs). 
  •  NR positioning enhancements: Addressing stringent accuracy and latency requirements for indoor industrial cases. 
  •  Power saving.
  •  NB-IoT/eMTC enhancements: Adding further functionalities to Low Power Wide Area Systems.

Specification support will be added to support lower capable NR devices, realising the needs of certain commercial and industry segments for such features.

Activitiy timeline for RAN 1

Follow work and specifications in RAN 1.

RAN2 Radio Protocols Enhancements - Work will start in Q2-2020 with protocol enhancements for newly added physical layer driven features. Release 17 content for RAN 2 includes:

  •  NR Multicast: supporting multicast transmissions, focusing on single-cell multicast functionality with a clear evolution path towards multicell. Multicast will entirely re-use the unicast NR physical layer to enhance the opportunity for an accelerated commercial uptake of multicast.
  •  Non-public network enhancements (led by SA1).
  •  NR for NTN.
  •  IoT for NTN. 
  •  NR positioning enhancements.
  •  NR sideline relay.
  •  RAN slicing. 
  •  UE power-storing enhancements.

Activity timeline for RAN2

Follow work and specifications in RAN2.

RAN 3 Radio Architecture Enhancements - work on Release 17 will start in Q2-2020 Architecture support will be added to all necessary RAN1 and RAN2-led features. 

Release 17 activities include:

  •  NR Multicast.
  •  NR NPN (non public networks) enhancements (led by SA2).
  •  NR over NTN (non-terrestrial networks).
  •  NB-IoT over NTN.
  •  NR Positioning enhancements. 

RAN3 also addresses QoE needs of 5G NR, initially with a study to understand how different the QoE function needs to be compared with LTE specifications.

The split of gNB (control- and user-plane) and of centralised unit and distributed unit makes the radio architecture of 5G NR substantially more versatile than LTE. The plan is for RAN3 to add support for CP-UP split to LTE so that LTE networks can also take advantage of some of the advanced radio architecture functions of 5G. 

Activity timeline for RAN3.

Follow work and specifications in RAN3

The 5G Vertical User Workshop series with a sub-set of 3GPP MRPs (5G-IA, 5GAA, 5G-ACIA and PSCE) seeks to support industry verticals in contributing to 5G standardisation by tracking requirements across verticals and mapping common requirements. Keeping track of updates from 3GPP plenaries helps to show how these requirements are feeding into 3GPP across its various stages. Besides workshop participants, these updates are useful for members of the 5G Infrastructure working group on Pre-Standardization under Horizon 2020 5G PPP, as well as industry verticals and associations that are new to 5G standardisation. 


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