3GPP Moves Forward on 5G, Mission-Critical Features
Monday, October 03, 2016 | Comments

Standards efforts within the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) moved forward Sept. 19 – 22 at a 3GPP meeting in New Orleans.

Andy Thiessen, vice chair of the National Public Safety Telecommunications Council (NPSTC) Technology and Broadband Committee, shared an update of how 3GPP standards have progressed over the past quarter during a NPSTC meeting Sept. 28. He said one of the biggest topics discussed during the past few months has been the deployment of 5G technology.

There has been an expectation of taking the evolutionary leap to 5G, and the latest meeting included discussions on what a 5G radio will look like. Similar to the initial transition to Long Term Evolution (LTE), 5G offers its own challenges in the public-safety community, he said.

“Two big goals are to continue to enhance mobile broadband based on LTE, for mobility and connectivity and internet access everywhere on the move, and to continue to try and drive capacity,” said Thiessen, who is also deputy program manager of Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR).

Boosting capacity in dense areas means higher frequency bands, above 1 GHz, and that requires a new radio waveform and technology, such as 5G. The first of the new devices are included in Release 15. Work on that release began in June and will continue until at least September 2018 and form the first phase of 5G deployments. 3GPP SA1 recently released four 5G technical reports with mission-critical broadband functionalities.

In phase one of the 5G standards, there won’t be direct mobility and little benefit compared with existing LTE networks. The standards are progressing to allow an overlay of 5G or later radio technology, but it won’t be a replacement for LTE, Thiessen said. Phase two will be a push for vehicle-to-vehicle communications created in LTE, and direct mobility will show up.

“On the core networking side, there’s a big focus on slicing the network,” he said. “This is where we create a kind of thin layer of networking capability to allow for different applications to be deployed on the network and managed independently even with numerous users.”

The key is to improve reliability, Thiessen said. The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) perspective is about driving more capability for dynamic control. Mission-critical push to talk (MCPTT) was added in Release 13, and it’s getting a lot of attention now, he said.

MCPTT was added at the end of Release 13 standards work, which was completed in March, but it is receiving more attention in Release 14, he said.

“MCPTT gets all the attention, but mission-critical video isn’t getting enough,” Thiessen said. “The government will be pushing for what we need to see in Release 15 for video.”

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