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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. 

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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 R16 R17

 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.


Release 18

As decisions are still focused on the Rel-17 schedule (new in December 2020), the Release 18 timeline is not yet the centre of attention. During 2021 there will be detailed discussions - held during the TSG Plenary week - to decide on the priorities for the work. Meanwhile, some Rel-18 Stage 1 studies are underway. As new studies and the detailed specification work begins, the Work Plan - at https://portal.3gpp.org/ (select 'Work Plan') - will be the place to go to to monitor the growth of Release 18:  

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The prioritization process on Rel-18 features, should be complete by the end of 2021 - with the Rel-18 Package Approval scheduled for TSGs#94:

Release timeline R16 R17

Some Background on Release 18

  • Press Release: "Release 17 timeline agreed" - December 14, 2020
  • 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. 

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


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