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Since the first call via cellphone was placed in 1973, the mobile phone industry has been instrumental in improving connectivity worldwide. We’ve come a long way since then with the advent of 3G and 4G, which were both major catalysts in the shift away from traditional telecom services. Now, the latest iteration of cellular technology, 5G, is engineered to significantly increase the speed and responsiveness of wireless networks.
With 5G, data transferred over wireless broadband connections can travel at multigigabit speeds, with the potential to reach speeds as high as 20 gigabits per second. By the end of 2027, 5G subscriptions are estimated to reach more than 4.4 billion — demonstrating the popularity and demand for the technology.
Wireless technology giant, Qualcomm, has been making massive strides in the technological evolution of mobile.
The company’s senior vice president of engineering and global head of wireless research, John Smee, shared, “We’re driving where 5G is going and are excited to unveil another key 5G milestone — 3GPP Release-17. This development completes the first phase of the tech evolution in the 5G decade and solidifies Release-17 as the foundation for expanding 5G into new devices, applications and deployments beyond phones across IoT, wearables, XR and more.”
Qualcomm Technologies led the charge on efforts across several critical projects connected to Release-17, according to a press release from the company.
3GPP, which stands for ‘3rd Generation Partnership Project,’ unites several telecommunications standard development organizations originally joined together to create global protocols for 3G technology and has since set standards for enhanced iterations of tech. With upwards of 600 members, 3GPP typically meets four times a year at the end of each quarter to plan and develop new releases, with the goal of improving upon past releases and providing new standardized functionalities.
What is 5G NR Release-17?
Qualcomm claims that Release-17 brings further enhancements to the foundational aspects of the 5G system, narrowing the digital divide and broadening 5G’s reach to new network topologies and use cases. Strategic areas of improvement include spectrum expansion, device power savings, enhanced private networks and enhanced simple repeaters.
Qualcomm also says Release-17 delivers system optimizations for a wide range of devices and applications, such as reduced-capability devices, non-terrestrial networks, side link expansion, broadcast/multicast expansion and boundless extended reality, as summarized below.
Enhanced support of industrial internet of things
The purpose of this study is to streamline support of Time Sensitive Communication (TSC), including enhancements for support of deterministic applications and enhancements to IEEE Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN). Other core issues addressed include Uplink Time Synchronization, UE-UE TSC communication, Exposure of QoS, Exposure of Time Synchronization services for activation/deactivation and support for PTP time sync and use of Survival Time for Deterministic Applications in 5GS.
Enhancement of support for edge computing in 5GC
This work item involves defining solutions to improve the forwarding of some UE application traffic to the applications deployed in the Edge Computing Environment, which includes the dynamic insertion of traffic offloading capabilities, change of application server serving the UE and the capacity to provide local applications with information on items like expected QoS of the data path, which supports PSA change when the application doesn’t support notifications of UE IP address change.
Enablers for network automation for 5G; phase 2
From data collection from UE to slice SLA, this study addresses many of the shortcomings from Release-16. New functionality that will be supported in Release-17 includes Multiple NWDAF Instances in one PLMN including hierarchies, enabling real-time or near real-time NWDAF communication and NWDAF-Assisted UP Optimization.
Paving the way to 6G
“While there are a number of wireless innovations in the pipeline, our vision for 6G is already starting to take shape,” Smee said. He added that the Release-17 will not only enable more effective enterprise deployment, but transform the way enterprises manage their supply chains and logistics, leading to a more productive and connected workforce.