3GPP Finalizes Items for Inclusion in Release 18
Tuesday, January 11, 2022 | Comments

During their December plenary meetings, members of the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) finalized the items that will be included in the Release 18 of the standards.

During the plenary, 3GPP members approved 28 items for inclusion in Release 18, said Juan Montojo, Qualcomm lead for technical standards. “It will be a big release.”

The release is expected to be worked on for 18 months from the start to its freeze date plus six months to finish any work needed to complete the release, he said. That timeline could change some if 3GPP has to continue conducting meetings online due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

For example, release 17, which was completed in December, was originally set to last only 15 months, but slipped an additional nine months because the pandemic forced the suspension of in-person meetings, Montojo said.

Montojo highlighted several items in the new release that will be important in the continued development of 5G.

Among these is the development of more efficient, green networks, which is a topic that hasn’t really been touched on since Release 15, he said. This item will look at how networks can operate more efficiently in a variety of ways to lessen the impact of these systems on the environment. In the release, this item will start as a study and then future steps will be determined from there, Montojo said.

Another item in the release will look at artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) in networks to use data-driven insights to help optimize system performance in areas including energy savings, load balancing and mobility.

Release 18 will also see more work on 5G New Radio sidelink, Montojo said. That new work on the sidelink function will look at expanding its use into new spectrum types and bands, such as unlicensed and millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum, as well as relays that can help improve 5G coverage in difficult environments, he said.

Other important items in the release include evolved duplexing, advanced downlink/uplink multiple input multiple output (MIMO), boundless extended reality, satellite and drone use cases, and New Radio (NR) reduced capacity.

As it moves to Release 18, 3GPP has also rebranded 5G to 5G Advanced to highlight the progression of the standard. 3GPP did a similar rebranding with 4G to 4G Advanced back during Release 10 of the standards.

Montojo said that change in branding indicates that the standards process is about halfway through the period when 5G will be the key focus of 3GPP development.

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