To date, the majority of 5G networks have operated in a non-standalone (NSA) configuration, which means that the 5G technology relies on an underlying 4G LTE network layer, which has a detrimental effect on signalling, and also requires more hardware and software to be installed at 5G towers and edge locations.
To remove this reliance on 4G LTE technology, Ericsson has announced the availability of standalone 5G NR software for 5G mid and low bands, which will enable communications service providers (CSPs) to access the full potential of 5G New Radio (NR) technology, most notably reducing latency from around 40-50ms for 4G LTE, to just 0.1ms.
“Over the past year, we have worked closely with many customers to successfully deploy Non-standalone 5G,” said Per Narvinger, Head of Product Area Networks, Ericsson. “These 5G networks have enabled higher data speeds and new use cases. Now we are taking the next step in the evolution of 5G by making generally available the software to support Standalone 5G NR networks. These standalone capabilities will enable even more use cases and applications.”
Supporting standalone 5G
The new software will be supported on all Ericsson Radio System equipment deployed since 2015 can support Standalone 5G NR capabilities with a software installation. And, according to Ericsson, using this software will enable CSPs to operate 5G NR without the need for signaling support from an underlying LTE network. This will allow service providers to add 5G NR to existing 4G sites in a more simple, cost-effective way, and will also enable the installation of 5G networks in locations such as factories, to support enterprise applications and services.
“Standalone 5G is the next important step for wireless connectivity, with the potential to unleash a whole new range of future transformative applications,” explained Abdul Saad, CTO at T-Mobile, which has worked with Ericsson to develop the software. “We’re proud to be leading the charge alongside Ericsson and other technology innovators and look forward to bringing standalone 5G to our customers later this year.”
Standalone 5G NR will enable applications that require low latency, which will be especially useful for industrial level IoT, where time sensitive networking (TSN) is a vital ingredient when connecting multiple devices in a manufacturing environment.
“Qualcomm Technologies and Ericsson have been at the forefront of a number of 5G milestones to help prepare for the next phase of 5G commercialization with 5G standalone,” said Durga Malladi, senior vice president of 4G/5G at Qualcomm. “The roll-out of 5G continues globally and we are excited to work with Ericsson in enabling global OEMs and operators to quickly roll out commercial 5G this year using 5G standalone.”
With the general availability of Standalone 5G NR software on low and mid bands, Ericsson now offers an end-to-end Standalone 5G solution. This is supported by the Ericsson 5G Core (5GC) and the company’s diverse 5G radio portfolio.