3GPP Release 15 final freeze delayed by three months
Written by: Sam Fenwick | Published:

The cellular standards body announced last week that the ASN.1 freeze date for the ‘late’ drop of Release 15 specifications has been delayed by three months and will now take place in June 2019.

The ‘late’ drop contains additional migration architectures and 3GPP states that the delay “does not in any way impact the first 5G deployments”. Indeed, it adds that the reason for the delay was the “extreme focus” it has placed on “ensuring the stability and compatibility of these specification that are to be used for the first 5G deployments”.

To ensure “better completion stability for future releases”, a three month gap has been added between “the completion of radio physical layer specifications (i.e. RAN1) and the completion of higher layer radio protocol and RF/RRM specifications (RAN2, RAN3, RAN4 core)”.

This development was first reported by Peter Clemons, chief designer at Quixoticity Index, from the 3GPP SA Plenary #82 in Sorrento, Italy, via a LinkedIn post. Clemons said that “All 3 TSG [Technical Specifications Group] chairs, SA chair Erik Guttman, CT chair, Georg Mayer & RAN chair, Balázs Bertényi [agreed] that better coordination between TSGs is required, although [Bertényi explained] that the RAN Plenary agenda was so full this week that absolutely no time was available for a Joint TSG Coordination Meeting.”

“There [was] a lot of sympathy in the room for all parties due to the massive work overload during R15, so hopefully lessons will be learned & a better approach found for R16,” Clemons added.

In the case of Release 16 (which is expected to provide support for many of the 5G use cases that aren’t enhanced mobile broadband, such as networking slicing and Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communication – URLLC), this will be accommodated by pushing its overall timeline for completion back by three months (functional freeze in March 2020, ASN. 1 in June 2020).

The new timeline is shown below

3GPP has also begun to plan for Release 17 and expects that by the end of next year it will have approved the work items that will describe its features. The target completion date for Release 17 will be decided at 3GPP’s next plenary in March 2019.

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