5G is so last year: now we’re moving to 5G-Advanced

5G is so last year: now we’re moving to 5G-Advanced

26 May 2021 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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The mobile industry’s technology experts have already defined the next standard beyond 5G.

It will be 5G-Advanced, according to 3GPP, the organisation of mobile technologists that have been developing successive generations since the late 1990s.

The radio access networks unit of 3GPP, chaired by Wanshi Chen (pictured), senior director of technology at Qualcomm Technologies, has decided that the next flavours of 5G from Release 18, later this year, will be officially named 5G-Advanced.

This comes precisely 10 years after the same 3GPP refined 4G — also called long-term evolution or LTE — into LTE-Advanced. That was followed by LTE-Advanced Pro.

Chen has worked in the industry since the earliest days, when he was a systems engineer with China Mobile in 1996. He then moved to Ericsson in California in 2000 and joined Qualcomm in 2006.

The work to specify Release 18 will start at the end of 2021 and will be frozen by the end of 2023, said 3GPP.

“The new term ‘5G-Advanced’ is intended to mark the point in time where the 5G system will be significantly enhanced to improve efficiency as well as adding capabilities,” the organisation said.

The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) dates back to the end of the last century when a number of companies, operators as well as vendors, were looking to move on from the first, but disparate and incompatible, digital mobile technologies, systems we now classify as 2G.

“Various new features associated with 5G-Advanced are under research,” said 3GPP, which has retained its 3G-era name since then.

“Over the past months, the industry has embarked on extensive discussions on the direction of 5G evolution, including the vision, requirements, and technologies that 5G-Advanced will entail.”

It said: “Over the past two years, the progress of 5G commercialisation has exceeded many people’s expectations. On the global scale, more than 160 5G networks have been deployed to reach nearly 300 million 5G terminal connections and over 5,000 5G industrial digitalisation projects.”

5G-Advanced, and perhaps 5G-Advanced Pro, will be followed by 6G, expected to be in early commercial service towards the end of the decade.