AT&T & Verizon Hope for Early Arrival of a Basic 5G Spec

DALLAS -- 5G North America -- Major US carriers are falling in line with the concept of a cut-down version of a 5G radio specification arriving as soon as possible, so that silicon vendors can have an early standard for which to develop chips.

Light Reading reported in September that the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) has been working to complete its Non-Standalone-New Radio for December 2017. In his keynote at the 5G North America event in Dallas Tuesday morning, Brian Daley, director of core and government, regulatory standards at AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), said that he is now expecting the spec to arrive between December 2017 and March 2018. (See 3GPP Plans Early Mobile 5G Spec for December 2017.)

"AT&T is also pushing for a non-standard stand-alone architecture ahead of 5G NR [New Radio]," Daley told the crowd.

The stand-alone specification only uses the 5G radio to provide raw wireless bandwidth. The spec will use LTE to start, end and manage the data sessions.

"The main reason for pushing this is that we're in the midst of doing of doing some trials and we want to make sure some of the learnings from the trials turn up in the specification," Daley said. This means that chip designers get a spec they can start to design silicon to ahead of the initial 5G NR spec. (See 3GPP Wants to Complete Initial 5G Radio Spec in June 2018.)

"We've reached speeds of 15-Gbit/s in tests with Ericsson," Daley said of the trials so far. The operator is running indoor and outdoor, fixed wireless and mobile tests, with a "friendly fixed user trial" expected for the end of this year. (See AT&T to Start 5G 'Friendly' Trial by 2016 End.)

For all the latest news on 5G, visit the 5G site here on Light Reading.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ)'s director of corporate strategy and development, Alexander Khalin, agreed with his AT&T counterpart in a later panel session about the need for bumping up the 5G spec ahead of its summer 2018 .

"There are carriers that are moving that up," he said, adding that solid specs are needed, so that "the silicon designers can get going."

Verizon, of course, is working on its own fixed wireless 5G specification that should arrive ahead of the 3GPP offering.

The carriers and vendors to whom I've spoken will pay lip service to flowing separate early technical work into the eventual 3GPP uber 5G radio specification. How much fragmentation becomes a factor along the way, however, remains to be seen.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

TV Monitor 11/15/2016 | 4:32:58 PM
AT&T is talking to the wrong vendor for early deployment There is no chip vendor supporting early deployment of Ericsson's 5G.

First two 5G modem chips from Samsung and Qualcomm support only 5G-SIG and 5G-SIG harmonized V5GTF.

So if AT&T wants 5G early, then it should be talking to Samsung and Qualcomm, not Ericsson.

AT&T being a GSM carrier, Ericsson was the traditional Go-To vendor for AT&T. But times have changed and it is time for AT&T to make the switch to Samsung 5G, just like how the traditionally CDMA carrier Verizon had to switch to LTE last gen.
mhui0 11/16/2016 | 2:18:06 AM
Re: AT&T is talking to the wrong vendor for early deployment T-Mobile is also doing fixed-link trials with Samsung.
Gabriel Brown 11/16/2016 | 3:56:46 AM
Early 5G Spec From what I can judge, the determination not to fragment the standard has hardened over the past few months. Where it looked like the was a (slight) risk of regional fragmentation, the strong consensus now among operators and vendors is not to let that happen.

That doesn't mean you can't go early and make a contribution using field trial results -- that is an excellent idea. But it does imply that you may need to compromise on some aspects to get a consensus. 

We'll see, of course. The NR specs could still diverge. I don't think that would be in the long-term interests of the global market. Technology is not (yet) like politics and pushing back on globalisation.

It's interesting how NSA-mode has jumped ahead of SA mode again in the 3GPP timeline. There are good reasons for that. And probably a bit of gamesmanship on all sides.
TV Monitor 11/16/2016 | 10:54:48 AM
Re: Early 5G Spec Gabriel Brown

"the determination not to fragment the standard has hardened over the past few months."

That is not what I am hearing. KT and Samsung are hell vent on making Samsung 5G the global mmwave 5G standard, and this is why they are launching a commerical service in 2019, issuing an ultimatum to 3GPP to accept it or else, because they are not compromising. Verizon too appears to be determined to launch first with Samsung 5G.

Ditto with the Chinese 5G standard, they have Softbank/Sprint backing them, and no need for Chinese to wait for the Europeans to catch up this time.

So the 5G fragmentation is already happening right now.
steve q 11/16/2016 | 11:52:38 PM
Re: AT&T is talking to the wrong vendor for early deployment The only issue I see with Verizon in doing there 5g is it has not been tested live and they have no idea what the needed bandwidth should be for most area. Take that of Boston Ma, they are hoping that they can use the fiber optic of the FiOS and add the backbone of the 5g inside the in city of Boston and provide faster data/video service to those customer.
Gabriel Brown 11/17/2016 | 5:30:33 AM
Re: Early 5G Spec There's a risk still, for sure, and yes, some important issues still in debate (polar codes vs LDPC, for example).

But Verizon has signalled that it is okay with a 3GPP spec that doesn't transpose *all* of the V5GTF work. There is inevitably some give and take.

I would characterise the situation as: lots of activity going on to determine the best spec (and, yes, gain competitive advantage). This is a good thing because experimentation and competition help get to the best result. There are obviously some divergent views in this process, but ultimately, I think it comes back to a consensus 3GPP spec that will be widely supported. We'll see.

You can certainly argue it wouldn't be so bad to have some fragmentation, as competition is a useful force for progress. The sense I have is the industry isn't really "up for it". There are not many hyper profitable companies in this space with money to burn on speculative go-it-alone initiatives. Even on a national level, what would China gain from its own spec?
TV Monitor 11/17/2016 | 10:57:51 AM
Re: Early 5G Spec Gabriel Brown

"Even on a national level, what would China gain from its own spec?"

China would be able to build the economy of scale from its domestic market deployment alone, then use cheap equipment and phone pricing to conquer developing world markets.
kq4ym 11/27/2016 | 2:23:06 PM
Re: AT&T is talking to the wrong vendor for early deployment The fragmentation is surely a likely stumbling block if all the players end up with differening "early" standards. As "AT&T is also pushing for a non-standard stand-alone architecture" supposedly to help out the chip guys, I wonder if that's really a subterfuge for their thinking they may get their non-standard work to become the actual standard beating out the competition?
TV Monitor 11/27/2016 | 5:09:00 PM
Re: AT&T is talking to the wrong vendor for early deployment kq4ym

Fraqmentation is inevitable and will be permanent mainly because the available spectrum for each region is different, because US/Korea have no low-band spectrum for 5G while Europe is not urgent on deploying mmwave 5G. Japan is the only region that may deploy both low-band and mmwave 5G in the near future.

As for AT&T, AT&T is focusing on low-band 5G(3GPP R15) at the moment, which focuses on IoT and Vehicle to Vehicle connection, but not bandwidth of mmwave 5G.
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