3GPP delays 5G standard updates due to COVID-19

3GPP has canceled its face-to-face meetings through June

It appears that the 3GPP — the global association developing the world’s 5G technology standards — is not immune to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The associated earlier this week announced a three-month delay in the timeline for the completion of two upcoming releases for 5G specifications: Releases 16 and 17. The announcement comes around the same time as the association’s decision to cancel face-to-face meetings through June.

The stage 3 of Release 16 is now scheduled for June 2020, and further, work on Release 17 is to be also to be shifted by three months, so that the freezing of stage 3 will take place in September 2021.

However, while the specification freeze for Release 17 ASN.1— which refers to abstract syntax notation object identifiers maintained by standards body ETSI — and OpenAPI is now scheduled for December 2021, the freezing of Release 16 ASN.1 and the OpenAPI specification are still slotted to take place in June as originally intended.

3GPP has not been forthcoming about how the delay would affect 5G rollouts, but because Releases 16 and 17 are thought to include critical standards for the further development of the technology, it can be expected to have an impact.

Many in the industry are optimistic that due to the increase in remote workers and students, which is creating a bigger need for faster, reliable connectivity, 5G rollout may actually accelerate. However, it cannot be ignored that the supply chain has been a real challenge as companies shut down production, making it nearly impossible for some of them to deliver products, or at least at pre-pandemic levels.

As mentioned previously, 3GPP’s face-to-face plenary meetings have been canceled through June and some Technical Specification Group (TSG) chairs have announced specific additional cancellations, but some online meetings are scheduled to continue through the pandemic, providing hope that, even if the current situation persists, the association’s work will stay on track overall. However, it appears that there have some technical issues with e-meetings, given the global nature of 3GPP and the fact that the organization has said in one of its recent updates that “In the light of recent e-meetings, the exact means for the electronic replacement of the [working group]meetings is being studied. There may be more extensive use of GoToWebinar and some further improvements on the email processes.”

Leave a Reply