As some operators gear up to shift to the standalone (SA) version of 5G next year, Qualcomm and Ericsson are flexing their readiness by achieving a successful data connection compliant with the 3GPP 5G New Radio standard in SA mode.
The companies said the test used Ericsson’s commercial 5G Radio System base stations, standalone New Radio (NR) software and its 5G cloud core, along with a mobile smartphone form-factor test device using Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X55 5G Modem-RF System. Ericsson launched its standalone 5G NR software earlier this summer.
The standalone data connection was completed on band n41 at an Ericsson lab.
Current commercial 5G services rolled out by U.S. operators are based on the non-standalone (NSA) version of the 5G standard, which is anchored in 4G and requires devices to connect to 5G and LTE simultaneously. Standalone mode deployments will utilize new 5G network cores and don’t rely on a legacy LTE network. Standalone 5G launches are seen as the second phase of 5G commercialization that will enable enhanced next-generation capabilities outside of simply faster download speeds.
Qualcomm and Ericsson pointed to features like guaranteed quality of service and network slicing, which the vendors called essential for new business models in applications like Industrial IoT and enterprise-grade cloud services.
“Together with Qualcomm Technologies, we have reached another important milestone that supports the transition to standalone 5G,” said Per Narvinger, head of product area networks at Ericsson, in a statement. “This demonstrates that 5G network technologies continue to mature and that we are strengthening the 5G ecosystem. Service providers are already able to deliver the benefits of 5G technology, and now we are taking further steps to release the full potential of 5G, serving users and industries alike.”
T-Mobile in late July confirmed plans to introduce a virtualized, standalone 5G core in 2020, as it touted the completion of the first standalone end-to-end data session in North America. T-Mobile said the over-the-air test was done on a multi-vendor 5G radio access and core network, and involved Ericsson, Nokia, Cisco, and MediaTek.
The operator boasted ultra-low latency achievable with SA 5G, saying it will supercharge applications that demand real-time responses like mobile AR/VR, cloud gaming, smart factories and meters and connected vehicles.
Verizon too has been pushing ahead with virtualization efforts and completed a proof-of concept trial with Ericsson this summer, deploying container-based wireless Evolved Packet Core (EPC) technology in a live network.
The carrier said based on test results, Verizon is very confident it can take advantage of the technology in the 5G core from day one.
Verizon hasn’t given a specific timeline for when it will move to a standalone 5G core, but Bill Stone, VP of technology development and planning at Verizon, previously told FierceWirelessTech the carrier is “moving in that direction.” He said Verizon is getting very close to the point where they can begin testing in its labs and other facilities this year.
Ericsson and Qualcomm’s standalone 5G transmission was the latest in the pair’s 5G collaborations. Earlier this month, the companies made the world’s first 5G data call using dynamic spectrum sharing, a technology Verizon has said is integral to its 5G strategy.