The first 5G spec just got approved – here’s what that actually means

Mobile networks are so keen to get 5G speeds into the hands of customers, they’ve agreed on the first standard a full six months early.

The members of the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) have this week ratified the Non-Standalone (NSA) 5G New Radio (NR) spec, which will help form the basis of the first 5G networks, based on mature 4G infrastructure.

This ahead-of-schedule accord is important to hastening the arrival of 5G speeds.

Now the standard is in place, networks and chip manufacturers like Qualcomm can begin creating the silicon hardware that’ll power next-gen speeds for consumers.

Let development commence

While the specs themselves won’t be announced until next week, they’re said to offer support for the full range of low (600MHz,700MHz), mid-range (3.5GHz) and high-frequency, millimeter wave (50GHz) spectrum.

“This is really the step that enables vendors to start building equipment off of,” Matt Branda, director of technical marketing at Qualcomm told Fierce Wireless.

Meanwhile US network AT&T, which helped to drive the accelerated timeline, said: “We believe we’re at a point where silicon manufacturers can begin their designs and start developing silicon.”

This silicon will sit within the first phones 5G-capable phones, with networks hoping to get things up and running in 2019.

The members of the 3GPP now have to approve the specs for Standalone 5G, which will replace the current 4G LTE networks. A decision is expected by next summer.

Next will come the spectrum auctions, with a big decision on those already made in the UK this week.

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