As 5G networks continue to rollout across the U.S., the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) is also rolling and about to complete their latest 5G document guideline, Release 16.
3GPP is an umbrella for a number of standards organizations which develop protocols for mobile telecommunications. 5G NR was developed from scratch by 3GPP by taking the requirements and looking at the best technologies and techniques that would be available when 5G began to be deployed.
Through a series of releases, current expectations for 5G technology are elucidated. Release 16, which likely will be completed in June 2020, focuses on automotive, Industrial IoT and operation in unlicensed bands.
Vehicle-to-everything (V2X) is a 5G driven technology that allows vehicles to communicate with moving parts of the traffic system around them. Release 16 builds on the two iterations of the LTE-V2X and adds advanced features, primarily in the area of low latency use cases.
The second Release 16 focus is industrial IoT and URLLC enhancements. This is an important area of 5G because factory automation is a strong pillar for 5G going forward. Release 16 ensures that the radio side covers all of the functions that all the verticals need for factory automation.
What this means in practice is that Release 16 makes sure 5G NR can fully replace a wired ethernet – currently used – by adding time sensitive networking and high reliability capabilities.
The third area of most importance in Release 16 is the operation in unlicensed bands. This has been a somewhat controversial area. 3GPP has documented different schemes for generic 5G licensing strategies in Europe and in other parts of the World. For example, in some countries certain licensed bands have been allocated for vertical use cases, though that is not the case for a majority of countries.
Many industrial insiders believe the use of unlicensed bands provides a great opportunity – where licensed spectrum is not an option. The licensed assisted access scheme as well as standalone unlicensed operation should be completed in Release 16.
Release 16 also delivers generic system improvements and enhancements, which target Mobile Broadband, but can also be used in vertical deployments – particularly, positioning, MIMO enhancements and Power consumption improvements.
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