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Release 17 Update from SA2

By Puneet Jain, 3GPP Working Group SA2 Chair (Article first published in HIGHLIGHTS Issue 02, March 2021).

Technical Specification Group SA Working Group 2 is in charge of developing the Stage-2 specifications of the overall system architecture - including the main functions and entities of the 3GPP network, how these entities are linked to each other and the information they exchange.

The group defined the 5G system architecture as part of 3GPP Release-15 and has continued its progress with the Release-16 work - focusing on following key focus areas:

Evolution towards 5G-Advanced

May 11, 2021

Following his appointment to the RAN Chair, Wanshi Chen has laid out his immediate priorities for the year and for meetings well into 2022 - In a recent ETSI webinar. He has also unveiled the preliminary topics of a June 2021 Workshop on Release 18 – With submissions to be divided into three areas (preliminary agenda): eMBB driven work, Non-eMBB driven functionality and Cross-functionality for both.

The webinar, recorded on May 5, 2021, is now available on the 3GPP Vimeo site: https://vimeo.com/548457634 (no registration required).

Release 17 on time

Wanshi Chen acknowledged that Release 17 - the third release of 5G specifications - has been under pressure due to COVID-19 restrictions, but despite making the move to e-meetings, he reported that the group’s experts have managed to ensure positive progress towards the freeze of the RAN1 physical layer specifications on schedule, by December 2021.

2020 Excellence Rewarded

March 11, 2021

Four colleagues from the 3GPP Working Groups have received the 3GPP Excellence Award, for their contribution to the progress of standardization efforts in 2020. The four are Stoyan Baev (RAN5), Devaki Chandramouli (SA2), Mihai Enescu (RAN1) and Alf Zugenmaier (SA3).

The permanent Excellence Award roll-of-honour has been updated and, following the virtual Award ceremonies, the physical awards are now on their way to the 2020 recipients.

3GPP TSG election results

March 24, 2021

The 3GPP Technical Specification Group (TSG) Plenary e-meetings are now being held, concluding on March 26.

In addition to making progress on Release-17 studies and specifications, all three TSGs have now held leadership elections, for Chair and Vice-Chair positions. Elections in 3GPP are held every two years, with the officials appointed in a series of election rounds of delegate votes, on behalf of their individual 3GPP member companies or organizations.

NG-RAN Architecture

February 19, 2021

In his recent contribution to "5G and Beyond", by Springer, 3GPP WG RAN3 Chair, Gino Masini, describes the NG-RAN architecture as being like "Janus bifrons" - as it supports both non-standalone (NSA) and standalone (SA) deployments - Looking at both the past and the future, like the ancient Roman god.

He also describes how the "monolithic" gNB can be split into its components, like layered wooden dolls, with gNB-CU, further split into gNB-CU-CP and gNB-CU-UP, and gNB-DU all nested one inside the other, resembling the Matryoshka.


Gino Masini identifies how 3GPP aims to specify the best possible technical solution, given the requirements from all interested parties. The NG-RAN architecture results from such a mix of very different requirements since the days of Rel-15, building on the success of LTE by meeting the following headline requirements for 5G:

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