The coronavirus pandemic could impact 5G deployment timelines for network operators

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The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) — the global organization that develops telecommunication standards — delayed the upcoming release of new 5G standards by three months due to the coronavirus. The Rel-16 Stage 3 and Rel-17 standards will now be released in June 2020 and December 2021, respectively. These two releases will establish sets of 5G standards for standalone (SA) networks, industrial IoT devices, and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) systems.

3GPP’s 5G standards establish technical requirements for tech companies working on 5G-enabled products, and any changes to their scheduled releases will likely cause cascading delays to product development and consumer uptake.

For instance, after the 3GPP finalized the standards for non-standalone (NSA) 5G networks three months early, research firm CCS Insight raised its 5G subscriber forecast to 60 million, up 50% from the forecast it had published just months earlier. However, it is possible that delaying the release of standards could have the opposite effect and lead to lower consumer uptake of 5G.

Here are three groups in the 5G ecosystem that could be most affected by the delays:

Networking equipment-makers won’t be able to finalize next-generation equipment designs. Equipment-makers working on 5G SA will have to delay projects to ensure that their upcoming products will comply with the new standards. Major equipment vendors have already been testing 5G SA products; for instance, Qualcomm and Ericsson successfully tested a data call over a 5G SA network in September 2019.
Network operators will likely need to readjust the timelines of their own 5G rollouts if new standards for 5G SA are delayed. Network operators are looking to implement 5G SA quickly as it offers them the most efficient network. Early 5G NSA networks, which incorporate existing 4G LTE infrastructure to handle nondata tasks, can suffer from latency delays caused when connected devices switch from the power-saving 4G LTE network over to 5G. Over one-third (37%) of mobile network operators plan to launch 5G SA networks over the next two years.
5G device-makers working on industrial IoT devices or wearables won’t have a clearly defined set of standards to build their devices around. Without standards, 5G device-makers may have to reassess project timelines to ensure that the eventual products won’t be incompatible with newer 5G devices made after the standards are set. This could make device-makers late to market and impede the proliferation of 5G devices — in March 2020, over 250 5G devices were announced, up from over 200 in January 2020, per GSMA.

The connectivity ecosystem is highly interrelated, which means even a minor delay somewhere can quickly snowball and have an exaggerated impact. For instance, a delayed release of a standard that refines 5G SA specifications could cause networking equipment-makers to …read more

Source:: Business Insider

      

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