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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

December 12, 2020

More 5G system enhancements are set to follow in Release 17. A new schedule was approved at TSG#90-e Plenaries:

Release timeline v2 july R17 R18

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

rel 17 v2

Some Background on Release 17

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


Release 18

Release 18 content, priorities and timeline are now moving into the discussion and decision phase.  The prioritization process on Rel-18 features should be complete by the end of 2021 - with 'Rel-18 Package Approval' scheduled for TSGs#94:

Release timeline v2 july R17 R18

TSG SA Status of Rel-18 work

The June 2021 TSG SA#92-e meeting has discussed and approved some early Rel-18 Study/Work Items, but no detailed scoping & prioritization discussions have yet taken place in TSG SA. Release 17 completion will remain the priority in Q3.

There will be a TSG SA Release 18 workshop on September 9-10, 2021. The main purpose of the workshop is to:

  • Bring all of SA up-to date on the status and next steps of Rel-18
  • Give companies the opportunity to indicate, discuss and possibly synchronize their Rel-18 plans
  • Prepare for joint session with RAN and CT on Rel-18 planning during plenary week


TSG RAN Status of Rel-18 work

The TSG RAN Rel-18 workshop took place from June 28 - July 2, 2021.

Preliminary Proposals for Rel-18 consideration focused on the following areas:

  • eMBB-driven Functional Evolution
  • Non-eMBB-driven Functional Evolution
  • Cross-Functionalities for both eMBB and Non-eMBB Evolution

See the news article: Advanced plans for 5G (July 6, 2021) for details of the workshop and links to the presentations.

The workshop was the start of a process that will be completed at the RAN#94 December Plenary, with cross-group Rel-18 Package Approval (note: WG RAN4 package approval is set to follow, in March 2022).

The formal timeline for the Release will be clearer after the TSG RAN#93, TSG SA#93 and TSG CT#93 Plenaries in September 2021. 

The new 5G-Advanced marker

5G Advanced 3D Waves 450pxWe now have an official 5G-Advanced logo, for use on 3GPP Reports and Specifications, from Release-18 onwards. 

The decision to adopt the new marker was taken at the 3GPP Project Coordination Group (PCG#46-e Meeting) in April 2021. The PCG has considered and approved the use of distinct 3GPP markers - logos - since the completion of early LTE work in 2008, to help distinguish new release capabilities and services that they bring.

Whether ‘LTE’ or ‘5G’, these markers have allowed the broader industry to achieve some clarity in their conversations about which 3GPP system they are referring to in a variety of conversations with partners and customers as well as within the 3GPP community.

Guidelines for the use of the 5G-Advanced logo are found ...here.

The Rel-18 Work Plan

As new studies and the detailed specification work begins, the Work Plan will be the place to go to to monitor the growth of Release 18. Every Plenary set of meetings sees an update to the 3GPP Work Plan review

 workplan tsg92

The latest Work Plan is always available for download at https://www.3gpp.org/specifications/work-plan 

Some Background on Release 18

  • 3GPP news article: Advanced plans for 5G (July 6, 2021)
  • News story 'Evolution towards 5G-Advanced' - Link to webinar presentation by Wanshi Chen, TSG RAN Chair.
  • TR21.918 the "Release description; Release 18", will be approved and published at the end of the Release. Prior to that, draft versions will be available. 


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