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First 5G wireless hardware specifications officially approved (Update: Sprint discusses its 5G plans)

Update: Following the announcement of the 5G spec, Sprint has provided a roadmap for its own 5G services.

Published onDecember 21, 2017

Update: Following the announcement of the 5G Wireless specification yesterday, Sprint has provided an update on its own 5G roadmap via press release.

Sprint reaffirmed its aims to commercialize 5G services by "late 2019," stating that it has been working with Qualcomm Technologies and SoftBank on the tech it will utilize. Sprint also said it has more than "160 MHz of 2.5 GHz spectrum available in the top 100 US markets," which it claims gives it the "largest nationwide block of sub-6 GHz 5G spectrum" available for large-scale use in the US.

This could help give Sprint an edge in the next generation of mobile internet, which it sorely needs, having lagged behind the other major carriers (AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile) in regards to its 4G LTE services.

Read Next: When will your phone get 5G connection?

In a statement, Sprint CTO Dr. John Saw said: "5G will spur dramatic innovation and progress around the world, and we see great opportunity in mobile 5G, massive machine type communications, and ultra-reliable and low-latency communications."

Sprint plans to reach 5G through the deployment of its 2.5 GHz Massive MIMI radios — which will be software-upgradeable to 5G NR — set to be used commercially in 2018.

  • The specs cover the Non-Standalone (NSA) 5G New Radio (NR) standards.
  • Hardware development based on these specs can now begin.
  • The Standalone (SA) 5G specs are scheduled to be approved in June 2018.

The move towards launching the first true 5G wireless networks and smartphones took a big step today. The members of the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) have officially approved the hardware specifications for the Non-Standalone (NSA) 5G New Radio (NR) standards. The specs were confirmed during a meeting of the 3GPP group in Lisbon, Portugal, according to a report at Fierce Wireless.

The official 3GPP Twitter page also announced the approval of the HSA 5G wireless specs today. They reportedly cover support for low, mid, and high-band spectrum, from below 1 GHz to about 50 GHz. The actual specifications will be posted sometime later this week on the group’s official website.

NSA 5G NR specs were approved today at RAN#78. Balazs Bertenyi , RAN Chair called it “an Impressive achievement in a remarkably short time, with credit due particularly to the Working Groups”. News article to follow on the 3GPP site and from 3GPP Member announcements.
— 3GPP Live (@3GPPLive) December 20, 2017

This development means that smartphone hardware companies such as Qualcomm, Intel, and others can begin to make 5G wireless products and components based on these official standards. In November, Qualcomm, ZTE, and China Mobile announced a successful test of the world’s first end-to-end 5G NR interoperable system based on the standards that were developed by the 3GPP group.

While this is an important step towards launching 5G wireless phones and networks, the work of the 3GPP group is not done yet. They will also have to approve the Standalone (SA) 5G specs, and that is not expected to happen until June of 2018.

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