5G Deployment scenarios

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Today, we will learn about Dual Connectivity between NR and LTE. If you are interested in learning more deployment options, click here.

The radio access networks based on the New Radio (NR) standard will provide high levels of capacity and peak data rates along with low latency. It is estimated that these networks can provide tens of megabits of data per second to tens of thousands of users at the same time.  Telecom operators have the opportunity to demonstrate leadership in technology and performance by meeting growing demands of mobile traffic profitably. This can be done by delivering new levels of cost-efficiency (including spectrum efficiency and sharing current assets), digitalization and new revenue streams.

The 5G standards were introduced by 3GPP in Release 15 to provide guidelines for 5G networks. These standards aim to provide massive throughput and low latency to the end user.

3GPP has defined two solutions for 5G networks as follows:

5G Standalone (SA):

The 5G Standalone architecture will be comprised of 5G New Radio (5G NR) and 5G Core Network (5GC). New capabilities like Network Slicing, CUPS, Virtualization, Multi-Gbps support, and Ultra low latency will be inherently built into the 5G SA Packet Core architecture.

The salient features of SA implementation are:
         5G will be used for both C-Plane and U-Plane.
     Radio control parameters will be exchanged through 5G.
    Paging channels will be monitored by UE on 5G.

Deployment option covers in SA:

Option 1: SA LTE under EPC 
Option2:  SA NR under 5GC
Option5 : SA LTE under 5GC

5G Non Standalone (NSA):

The Non-Standalone deployment will be comprised of the already existing LTE radio access and core network (EPC) as an anchor for mobility management and coverage to add the 5G carrier. This solution will be more cost-efficient and can be provided in a shorter time span.

The 5G radio will work with 4G core network and will give hotspot coverage along with the existing 4G network. This is also known as EUTRA-NR Dual connectivity (EN-DC).

In NSA, 5G will only focus on U-Plane; all the control plane messages like call origination/termination, location registration, etc. will be handled by the LTE eNB and EPC.
The eNB will need to go through upgrades to handle 5G control parameters.
UE will monitor paging channels on LTE.

The two options provided above can be further divided into many options based on the combination of Core (EPC, 5G Core) x SA (LTE, 5G) x NSA (LTE Anchor, 5G Anchor).
Initially, most of the operators will likely prefer an intermediate step with 5G standalone being the long term goal.

One important point to consider here is that it not all of these intermediate options can be practically implemented.

Deployment option covers in NSA:

Option 3: NSA LTE and NR under EPC 
Option4:  NSA NR and LTE under 5GC
Option7:  NSA LTE and NR under 5GC

5G NR architecture options, deployment scenarios, and key migration paths.

For 5G, operators may consider 5G bands below 6 GHz and above 6 GHz (ex: 28GHz)) should be used in combination with 4G to complement each other taking into account:
·        Use case requirement (Mobility, Area, Latency, etc.
·        Separation of C-Plane and U-Plane Standalone,
·        Non-Standalone scenarios.

Challenges – Operators and user equipment manufacturers need to overcome the following challenges to fully unleash the 5G potential:

·        Propagation and channel modeling of mm Wave,
·        Protocol optimization,
·        Antenna complexity,
·        Digital interface capacity.
·        Interworking between EPC and 5GC with minimum interfaces
·        EPC enhancement to extend the range of QoS, Resolution of UE compatibility, increasing UE capability to support 5G NR via Dual Connectivity.
·       Enhancement of the current LTE system for EPC connectivity to 5GC in terms of supporting slicing, mobility between LTE and NR (both connected to 5GC)

Below migration paths operator would deploy:
1) Option 2 directly
2) Option 3 >> Option 7 >> Option 5 (LTE under 5GC)
3) Option 3 >> Option 2
4) Option 3 >> Option 4 >> Option2


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