3GPP the standards body for wireless standards, has delayed the adoption of the next two releases (Release 16 and Release 17) each by three months. The delay is in response to the COVID-19 virus.
3GPP Release 16 stage 3 freezing will now occur in June 2020 while Release 17 will now be frozen in June 2021. 3GPP normally freezes development work on a release before entering a voting period.
3GPP releases include a long list of activities. Release 16 includes specifications that cover:
- Enhancement of Ultra Reliable Low-Latency Communications (URLLC) support in the 5G Core network
- Physical-layer enhancements for URLLC
- 5G New radio (NR) support for Industrial Internet of Things
- LAN services
- NR-based access to unlicensed spectrum (NR_unlic)
Release 17 is expected to address:
- Asset tracking in 5G (ATRAC)
- Communication Service Requirements for Critical Medical Applications (CMED)
- Enhancements for cyber-physical control applications in vertical domains (eCAV)
- User equipment (UE) power saving enhancements for NR
- Enhancements to Integrated Access and Backhaul (IAB) for NR
Many of the specifications in Release 16 and release 17 will address the use cases to go beyond enhances Mobile Broadband (eMBB). The URLLC specification addresses the industrial control use case. 5G NR support for IoT could also add industrial applications. In Analyst: 5G is all about the traffic, industry Analyst Clif Holiday, neither of these use cases will rise unless eMBB succeeds in moving mobile traffic from LTE to 5G and operators raise enough revenue to support their 5G investments. Holiday claims that “When 5G is fully built out, it may not even participate in IoT because it may be too expensive to use in low-cost devices. IoT needs cheap, low-end devices.”