5G is making its move – and organizations, companies and agencies need to keep up.
In April 2019, U.S. carriers began to rollout their 5G networks. However, without a 5G infrastructure in place, the complete super networking potential of 5G architecture wasn’t available. So carriers were forced to offer a “hybrid” 5G that combined characteristics of both 5G and its predecessor 4G.
Also known as non-standalone (NSA) 5G, the initial 5G in the U.S. rode the infrastructure that was already available from the 4G era.
Throughout the first year of a “watered down” 5G, carriers could only offer availability in select cities – and only then in parts of select cities. Users with access needed two things: a phone that supported 5G and a network that offered it.
Heading into the second year of U.S. 5G availability, things are about to change. With 5G infrastructures more mature now, carriers are getting ready to deploy the really “cool version” of 5G known as standalone (SA) 5G. Among its benefits for consumers will be a download speed much closer to the promised 10Gbps – downloading a two hour movie in 3.6 seconds.
The SA version, which does not rely on LTE, allows an operator to address not just enhanced mobile broadband, but massive machine-to-machine communications, or massive IoT and ultra-low latency communications. It also allows for more advanced network slicing activities.
The move to SA 5G will also create a market for a different kind of phone system like Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X60 system. The X60 can handle the SA 5G millimeter wave and sub-6 GHz bands on Frequency Division Duplexing (FDD) and Time Division Duplexing (TDD) networks. The system also supports millimeter wave sub-6 GHz carrier aggregation.
Telecom operators will see a long-term financial advantage by deploying the 5G standalone (SA) standard that uses a 5G-specific core compared with the 5G non-standalone specification that relies on an already deployed 4G LTE core.
Along with the U.S., other countries expected to launch SA 5G this year include China, Japan and Korea.