As we expected, 3GPP TSG RAN Plenary Meeting in Lisbon successfully completed the first implementable 5G NR specification, non-standalone 5G NR on December 21, 2017. This is a day that caused a great sensation in the whole industry because it shows 5G will come to commercialization very soon, and the promising 5G use cases will come to reality step by step.
In the Middle East region, telecom operators have been facing challenges on revenue increase pressure and digital O&M transformation, and the arrival of 5G will no doubt be a new opportunity for comprehensive strategy deployment.
3GPP Release 15 includes non-standalone 5G NR and standalone 5G NR. SA is intended for the target architecture of 5G, while non-standalone (NSA) enables cost-effective and full-scale development of 5G NR. The completion of NSA standard is an essential milestone to enhance the capabilities of mobile network. I believe with NSA, 5G is going to come to commercialization and influence the region deeply.
NSA architecture helps operators introduce 5G cost-effectively and rapidly
The NSA architecture reuses the 4G core network to implement the functions of access, authentication and voice services. This helps minimize network reconstruction and rapidly deliver 5G based on a 4G network. This architecture primarily applies to the initial deployment of 5G, able to cover all eMBB services. The SA architecture introduces the 5G core network, while NSA can be upgraded to SA by overlaying the 5G core network on demand. In compliance with 5G standardization specified by 3GPP, Huawei schedules the release of a commercial 5G NSA architecture by Q4 2018.
NSA is operators' great weapon for 5G branding and quick involvement in future business
Besides quick introduction to the network, the NSA ecosystem will also mature soon. In 2017, Huawei launched 5G pre-commercial CPE using 3GPP 5G NR draft standard. In 2018, there will be 5G NR CPE which applies to 3GPP NSA standard. This allows operators to seize the initiative, able to firstly launch wireless home broadband business with 5G. On the other hand, mainstream chip company, for example, Hisilicon, announced the launch plan on 5G NR chip for smartphone, which will be at the beginning of 2019. So, the earliest smartphone will probably come half to one year later.
Actually, Mr. Yu Chengdong, CEO of Huawei consumer business group, has announced that Huawei will launch the first 5G smartphone in 2019, when accepting the Science and Technology Award for an end-to-end 5G pre-commercial system during the fourth world internet conference.
Huawei has been a leader in 5G NR standard, end-to-end architecture and exploration on 5G use cases. With NSA standard completion, Huawei will keep cooperating with and assisting operators in the Middle East for 5G exploration and commercial deployment and help our operator customers seize new opportunities.
By Lan Yun, president, Carrier Network Business Group, Huawei Middle East