Calls for "rapid development" of Option 4 and SME focus to progress 5G
The Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) Alliance is calling for the completion of Option 4 to support the full realisation of 5G.
Making the call in a white paper, NGMN Alliance said that doing so would help many networks to bring new 5G-based services to market quickly and efficiently, whilst providing "a future-proof evolution that maintains competitive user data rates for 5G users".
A trial is scheduled for this year to encourage development within the 5G ecosystem.
“Development completion of Option 4 is urgently needed to enable all operators to invest in a new 5G core network without compromising user data rate performance,” said Arash Ashouriha, chairman of the NGMN Alliance.
“Advanced 5G users using 5G Standalone should be able to access LTE on top of NR for a seamless service experience”.
Instead, what is required is Option 4 supporting a 5G core and dual connectivity with New Radio (NR) acting as a master. This would allow baseline 5G NR radio performance to be enhanced through the use of LTE on top. Both NR and LTE spectrum would then be accessible for 5G Standalone users in the lower frequency bands supporting wider coverage when it is beneficial to do so and reducing the need to refarm.
NGMN's explanation continued: "A migration to 5G Standalone is an important evolutionary step for 5G with the introduction of a new 5G core network and the transfer of the master radio interface technology from LTE to NR technology.
"To ensure the most cost and spectrum efficient use of the network, which maximises the full 5G advantages, advanced 5G users should be able to connect in parallel via both NR and existing LTE technology."
If they don't? New 5G Standalone users will sometimes receive lower data rates than existing Non-Standalone 5G and LTE-only users.
NGMN project lead Raimund Walsdorf, who is also heads technology architecture and innovation access and home networks for Deutsche Telekom said: “Option 4 development will support many network operators planning an initial 5G Standalone service launch today or a more widespread launch in the future. This option benefits operators to more efficiently migrate spectrum from LTE to NR, while also relaxing the pressure on operators to refarm from LTE to NR as long as spectrum remains dedicated to LTE”.
Alliance CEO Anita Döhler (pictured), added: “NGMN is committed to support an efficient introduction of 5G Standalone (SA) networks to help the industry to deliver on the performance promise of 5G to end-users. Availability of Option 4 in addition to other options will help to better meet end-user demands in years to come.”
Multi-billion 5G revenue in SMEs
The calls came as a new report found CSPs are apparently "failing to support the 5G needs" of 99% of world’s businesses – an untapped market that could be worth billions.
Commissioned by BearingPoint//Beyond and Omdia, the report said that by not investing sufficient time and resource in SME customers, CSPs "are discounting an estimated $433 billion worth of 5G revenue, a significant missed opportunity for B2B 5G growth in 2021 and beyond".
Yet SMEs perceive CSPs as their trusted 5G go-to partner with 42% prioritising them to execute their 5G strategies; and many are introducing programmes.
Vodafone Spain offers an all-inclusive value proposition providing SMEs with compelling mobile-first productivity tools. SK Telecom is partnering with the Korea Smart Factory Data Association and software developer, BISTel, to offer a 5G-based big data analysis service to manufacturing SMEs.
"These types of collaborative approaches demonstrate how CSPs can marry 5G capabilities and other assets with ecosystem players to deliver profound value to SMEs,” said Camille Mendler, chief analyst, enterprise services, service provider and communication, Omdia.
Mendler added: “SMEs are aware of the benefits 5G can bring to their businesses and already view CSPs as their trusted 5G partners. It’s therefore critical that CSPs enable 5G to triage SMEs’ business context and industry solutions with outcome-based value propositions, to reap the rewards of this customer base. In some cases, global CSPs have launched programs that are capitalising on the SME opportunity."