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Release 14

Release 14, brought about a series of Mission Critical enhancements, LTE support for V2x services, eLAA, 4 band Carrier Aggregation, inter-band Carrier Aggregation and more...

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The 3GPP Summary of Release 14 Work Items is now available on-line...here
Functional freeze date including stable protocols was in June 2017 (...what does this mean?)

Some Background on Release 14




Release 15

Update of April 26, 2019

After initial delivery in late 2017 of ‘Non-Stand-Alone’ (NSA) NR new radio specifications for 5G, much effort focused in 2018 on timely completion of 3GPP Release 15 – the first full set of 5G standards – and on work to pass the first milestones for the 3GPP submission towards IMT-2020.

2019 NR schedule late drop pic3While initial specifications enabled non-standalone 5G radio systems integrated in previous-generation LTE networks, the scope of Release 15 expands to cover ‘standalone’ 5G, with a new radio system complemented by a next-generation core network. It also embraces enhancements to LTE and, implicitly, the Evolved Packet Core (EPC). This crucial way-point enables vendors to progress rapidly with chip design and initial network implementation during 2019.

As the Release 15 work has matured and drawn close to completion, the group’s focus is now shifting on to the first stage of Release 16, often referred to informally as ‘5G R15Phase 2’. By the end of the year, 83 studies relating to Release 16 plus a further thirteen relating to Rel-17 were in progress, covering topics as diverse as Multimedia Priority Service, Vehicle-to- everything (V2X) application layer services, 5G satellite access, Local Area Network support in 5G, wireless and wireline convergence for 5G, terminal positioning and location, communications in vertical domains and network automation and novel radio techniques. Further studies were launched or progressed on security, codecs and streaming services, LAN interworking, network slicing and the IoT.

Other activities focused on broadening the applicability of 3GPP technology to non-terrestrial radio access systems – from satellites and airborne base stations to maritime applications including ship-to-shore and ship-to-ship communications. Work also progressed on new Professional Mobile Radio (PMR) functionality for LTE, enhancing railway-oriented services originally developed using GSM radio technology which is now nearing its end of life.
(Source: ETSI Annual report 2018)

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Further reading:


Release 16

At the TSG#88e Plenary meetings - ending July 3, 2020 - Release 16 was completed with both the Stage 3 freeze and the ASN.1 and OpenAPI specification freeze being approved. 

 graphic version3 SP 200222

The "Release 16 Description; Summary of Rel-16 Work Items" (TR21.916) is now in production, with the Work Plan manager adding summary notes for each of the Features within.  Although the detailed data on each piece of work (Studies, Work item descriptions, Features) is available via the work plan, or via the 3GPP Portal, we hope that the "initial state" (pre-Change Request state) of the Features in TR21.916 will be of use to you. 

Release 17

More 5G system enhancements are set to follow in Release 17, scheduled for delivery in 2021.

September 22, 2020

During the recent TSG#89 e-meeting, a discussion was held on the potential delay to the Rel-17 timeline - given the continued need for virtual e-meetings, instead of physical meetings.

Although tremendous progress has been achieved under e-meetngs, at the working group and also plenary level, it has become clear that the same rate of work cannot be achieved, as would have been possible in a face-to-face environment. At TSG#89, there was agreement that a delay in the Rel-17 schedule will be necessary.

A firm decision on the delay to the freeze date of 3GPP Release 17 will be made in December 2020. Each of the TSG's (CT, RAN and SA) working groups will continue to study the situation, to arrive at the best common decision at the next Plenaries (December 7 – 11).

July 3, 2020 Update:

Discussions at TSG#88-e Plenaries identified that the Rel-17 dates are at a high risk of being delayed. This is due to the switch from physical meetings to e-meetings. In SP-200606, the Work Plan manager noted that both SA2 for Stage 2 work (SP-200536) and TSG RAN (RP-201257) had warned that Rel-17 dates will have to be shifted. This will be further discussed in Sept 2020, during TSG#89-e.

At TSG#87e (March, 2020) the following Rel-17 timeline was agreed:

  • Rel-17 Stage 3 freeze September 2021
  • Rel-17 ASN.1 and OpenAPI specification freeze: December 2021 

graphic version3 SP 200222

December 2019 Update:

At the December Plenaries, TSG RAN#86 meeting had outlined its ambitious schedule in the 'Release 17 package for RAN' presentation, which contains slides on the time to be spent (Time Units) on RAN features for Rel-17.

In the light of the latest decision - In March, 2020 - Here are the 3GPP RAN milestones as a consequence of the cancellation of WG and TSG face-to-face meetings:

tsg87e timeline slip

 The following areas have been prioritized, at the December 2019 TSG meetings, for inclusion in the release: 

rel 17 overviewonly

Some Background on Release 17

Details of the features and work items under each 3GPP Release are contained in the Work plan.


Functionality in early GSM releases

Former project plans relating to the evolution of the GSM / EDGE radio access network can be found in 3GPP TR 50.099 - (no longer maintained)

An Overview of GSM Releases

last updated 14th January 2002

This (old) page provides a high level overview of the new functionality that was introduced into the previous GSM releases. The following releases are included:

  • GSM Phase 2+ (Release 1998)
  • GSM Phase 2+ (Release 1997)
  • GSM Phase 2+ (Release 1996)
  • GSM Phase 2
  • GSM Phase 2

These Work Items were introduced in GSM Specifications V4.X.Y Series.

  • BSS Repeaters (RPT)
  • DCS1800 4 Watt mobile power class
  • DECT access to GSM networks
  • Development of the SIM test specification (GSM Phase 2)
  • Display of Service Provider Name by the ME
  • Enhanced Full Rate Speech codec
  • Facsimile Enhancements
  • GSM - DCS Roaming
  • IMEI Check Digits (ICD)
  • Operation of Multi-band GSM/DCS by a single Operator
  • SIM - Three Volt Technology SIM
  • SMS Cell Broadcast Discontinuous Reception (CB-DRX)
  • SMS concatenation
  • Software Version Number (SVN)
  • Transparently supporting UPT phase 1

Release 96

  • 14.4 kbit/s User Data Rate
  • ASCI Phase 1 - Enhanced Multi-* Level Precedence and Pre-emption Service -* phase 1
  • ASCI Phase 1 - Voice Broadcast Service (VBS) - phase 1
  • ASCI Phase 1 - Voice Group Call Service (VGCS) - phase 1
  • Barred Dialling Numbers
  • CAMEL phase 1
  • Compression of User Data
  • Concurrent SMS/CB and data transfer in 07.05
  • Explicit Call Transfer (ECT)
  • Extensions to the SMS alphabet
  • Fast Moving Mobile - Hierarchical Cell structure, GSM 05.22
  • Handsfree MS
  • High Speed Circuit Switched Data
  • Improved Transcoder Handling (First Alternative)
  • Inclusion of deferred tracing capabilities in GSM 12.08
  • ME Personalisation
  • Network Identity and Time Zone (NITZ)
  • Packet Data on Signalling Channels
  • Radio Local Loop (RLL) using GSM
  • Second SMS broadcast channel
  • Service Dialling Numbers
  • SIM Application Toolkit
  • SIM I/F data Transfer Speed Enhancement
  • SMS - Special SMS Message indication
  • SMS Interworking Extensions
  • Support of additional call set-up MMI procedures
  • Support of Optimal Routeing (SOR)
  • Support of Restricted Digital Information and V.120 rate adaptation in GSM

Release 97

  • A-bis Management of Alarms/faults on the BTS site
  • A-bis Management of Measure on the BTS site
  • A-bis Management of reconfiguration of BTS site
  • ASCI Phase 2
  • Calling Name Presentation - US (CNAP-US)
  • CAMEL phase 2
  • Characteristics and test methods for handsfree mobile station
  • Completion of Calls to Busy Subscriber (CCBS)
  • Enhancement of MAP Extensibility Mechanisms
  • Enhancements of Fault Management Services
  • General Packet Radio Service Phase 1 (GPRS) - network part
  • General Packet Radio Service Phase 1 (GPRS) - radio part
  • Mobile Assisted Frequency Allocation (MAFA)
  • Modeling of Fault Management Services
  • Network Indication of Alerting in the MS
  • New Multiplexing Protocol on the ME-TE Interface
  • North American Equal Access
  • SIM - Security mechanisms for the SIM Application Toolkit
  • SMS enhancements phase 1
  • SMS Mobile Busy
  • Support of Private Numbering Plan (SPNP)
  • Support of Shared Interworking Function (SIWF)

Release 98

  • BTS performance requirements for very small cell scenarios (Picocells)
  • Access to auxiliary devices, integrated into the ME platform, through the use of the SIM
  • Application Toolkit
  • Access to ISPs and Intranets in GPRS Phase 2 – Separation of GPRS Bearer Establishment and ISP Service Environment Setup
  • Adaptive Multi-Rate (AMR)
  • Call Deflection
  • Call Forwarding Enhancements (CFE)
  • Calling line identification enhancements (CLIe)
  • Connecting an octet stream to a port on an Internet host (R98)
  • Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE) - BSS Part
  • Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE) - NSS Part
  • Enhanced QoS Support in GPRS
  • Follow Me
  • Fraud Information Gathering System(FIGS)
  • General Packet Radio Service Phase 2 (GPRS) - network part1
  • General Packet Radio Service Phase 2 (GPRS) - radio part1
  • GPRS for PCS1900
  • GPRS Mobile IP Interworking
  • GSM - Cordless Telephony System (CTS)
  • GSM Mobile Number Portability (EURO) MNP
  • GSM-API for SIM-Toolkit
  • Harmonization of the PCS1900 Standards with the GSM Base Specification
  • Immediate Service Termination (IST)
  • LAPDm performance enhancement
  • Lawful Interception (LI)
  • Location Services (LCS)
  • Mobile Station Execution Environment (MExE)
  • Modem and ISDN interworking for GPRS
  • MS Antenna Test Method
  • Multiple Subscriber Profile (MSP)
  • Service Provider Number Portability (USA)
  • Support of Localized Service Area (SoLSA)
  • Tandem Free Operation of speech codecs in Mobile-to-Mobile Calls (MMCs)
  • Unstructured octet stream GPRS PDP Type (R98)
  • User-to-User Signalling (UUS)
  • USSD Enhancements
  • 1 Comprises sub-work items in the same table having "GPRS" in their title.

Release 99 and beyond

  • Access to ISPs and Intranets in GPRS Phase 2 – Wireless/Remote Access to LANs (R99)
  • Advanced Addressing
  • Architecture of the GSM-UMTS Platform
  • Architecture overview of the GSM-UMTS System
  • Automatic Establishment of Roaming Relations
  • CAMEL Phase 3
  • Charging and Billing for GPRS – Advice of Charge
  • Charging and Billing for GPRS – Hot Billing
  • Charging and Billing for GPRS – Pre-Paid
  • End to End UMTS QoS Management
  • Fraud Information Gathering System applied to GPRS
  • BSS co-ordination of Core Network Resource allocation for class A GPRS services - GSM - UMTS Core Network (R99)
  • BSS co-ordination of Radio Resource allocation for class A GPRS services -* GSM Radio Access (R99)
  • GPRS - Point-To-Multipoint Services
  • IP-in-IP tunneling in GPRS backbone for UMTS, phase 1
  • Low Voltage SIM/ME Specification
  • MExE Release 99
  • New Access Network to Core Network (BSS-NSS) interface
  • Noise Suppression for AMR speech codec
  • Provision of text telephony service in GSM and UMTS
  • Service Continuity and Provision of VHE via GSM/UMTS
  • Study on Combined GSM and Mobile IP Mobility Handling in UMTS IP CN
  • UMTS Charging & Billing
  • UMTS Core based on ATM Transport
  • UMTS Numbering, Addressing and Identities
  • UMTS Open Service Architecture
  • Virtual Home Environment

Work items whose status is to be determined

  • Calling Name Presentation - Euro (CNAP-EU)
  • Efficient cellular support of new services in GSM network service areas
  • Generic signalling mechanism for service support
  • Idle mode classmark
  • Impact of Telecommunications Data Protection Directive on GSM Standards
  • Interworking with Mobile Satellite Systems
  • Multimedia in UMTS
  • Provision of text telephony service in GSM and UMTS
  • Requirements for equipments/systems interfacing GSM
  • Service to GSM Handportables in trains
  • Study on provision of facsimile services in GSM and UMTS
  • Support of non-realtime Multimedia Messaging Service
  • Support of non-realtime Multimedia Messaging Service
  • Support of Operator Specific Services (SOOS) when roaming (to be subsumed under VHE?)
  • Technical Enhancements/improvements for phase 2

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