Key 5G vendors tell Light Reading that delays to a newer revision of the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) 5G New Radio (5G NR) standard will not affect early 5G launches now and into 2019.
Light Reading exclusively reported last week that the "functional freeze" for a "late drop" of the 3GPP Release 15 5G NR specification will be delayed until March 2019. (See 5G Standard Hits Unexpected 3-Month Delay.)
"Late drop is not in anybody's deployment plans for 2019," Qualcomm's VP of Technical Standards Lorenzo Casaccia said.
"Samsung’s 2019 5G NR RAN [radio access network] product schedule remains on track," Samsung Networks told us via email.
Qualcomm says initial 5G products coming in late 2018 through 2019 are based on the "early drop" 5G NR specification that was released this time time last year. The chip vendor expects to see the first commercial 5G smartphones arriving in the first half of 2019. (See 5G Is Official: First 3GPP Specs Approved.)
AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) just announced the first live 5G NR network in the US Tuesday, with a mobile hotspot available to a select business customers starting December 21. (See 5G Standard Hits Unexpected 3-Month Delay.)
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) is using its own 5GTF specification for its fixed wireless 5G service. The carrier has said it will upgrade to the mobile 5G NR "sometime" next year. (See Verizon CFO Expects Mobile 5G Service 'Sometime' in 2019.)
Meanwhile, South Korea switched on 5G NR on December 1.
These early networks use a 5G radio network, but an LTE 4G core as the control layer, setting up and shutting down data sessions for the 5G network.
This is just the initial iteration of 5G, supporting faster broadband than what's delivered via 4G. Expect more as the Release 16 -- "5G Phase 2" -- gets worked on through 2019, with a freeze expected in March 2020.
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading