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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:

Initiative to remove non-inclusive terms

February 3, 2021

3GPP groups have started the process of replacing terminology in our specifications that is non-inclusive. The entire leadership proposed jointly a Change request (CR) to the Specification drafting rules (TR21.801), following an initiative led by several individual members.

In their joint proposal (SP-201042) to the TSG SA#90-e meeting, the leaders wrote: “While there are potentially numerous language issues that could be considered offensive, there are two that are most acknowledged and focused on in the industry and applicable to the 3GPP Specifications. These terminologies are “Master / Slave” and “Whitelist / Blacklist” that are often used in 3GPP and other telecommunications / technical documents.”

Enabling Edge Computing Applications in 3GPP

September 2020

By Suresh Chitturi, 3GPP Working Group SA6 Chair. (Article first published in HIGHLIGHTS Issue 01, Sept. 2020).

Edge Computing is a concept that enables services to be hosted close to the service consumers and provides benefits such as efficient service delivery with significant reduction in end-to-end latency and decreased load on the transport network. The benefits of Edge Computing will strengthen the promise of 5G and expand the prospects for several new and enhanced use cases – including virtual and augmented reality, IoT, Industrial IoT, autonomous driving, real-time multiplayer gaming, split computing – once the large scale infrastructure and pervasive Wide Area Networks are in place.

The deployment of edge computing involves relationships between multiple providers. Edge Computing Service Providers (ECSP) will play an important role in the construction of infrastructure used by the Mobile Network Operators (MNO) and by Application Service Providers (ASP) – enabling them to host their Edge applications close to the users.

Open RAN

January 20, 2021

As 5G is being deployed all over the globe, one of the new trends drawing a lot of attention is the Open RAN, which has been selected by a number of major operators for their 5G deployments.

Open RAN is made possible through standardized open network interfaces, defined in 3GPP, O-RAN Alliance, IEEE, and other SDOs and industry fora. To cater to all the diverse 5G use cases and operator’s deployment constraints, the standards define multiple NG-RAN architecture options and the associated open network interfaces. While these options are crucial in making 5G suitable to address all the requirements and challenges of the next generation mobile network, figuring out which option fits a particular practical use case is sometimes challenging. This is further exacerbated by the fact that relevant standards are scattered across multiple SDOs.

To help experts to unpack that complexity, Sasha Sirotkin, the 3GPP RAN3 Vice-chair has edited a new book ‘5G Radio Access Network Architecture: The Dark Side of 5G’, with material contributed by a number of domain experts, active in various 3GPP working groups.

Release 17 timeline agreed

December 14, 2020


Last week’s Plenary meetings of the 3GPP Technical Specification Groups (TSG) have resulted in joint approval of a firm Release 17 timeline. In reaching this scheduling decision, TSGs#90-e considered the effects that e-meetings in 2020 had on the work’s progress and the pressure that cancellation of all face-to-face meetings has created.

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