5 Takeaways from Webinars on 3GPP Progress Updates in April 2020

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5 Takeaways from Webinars on 3GPP Progress Updates in April 2020

On 9 April 2020, 3GPP hosted three mini webinars with its TSG Chairmen on progress towards Releases 16 and 17 during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Georg Mayer, TSG Chair for SA (services); Lionel Morand for CT (core networks and terminals) and Balazs Bertenyi for RAN (radio access network) zoomed in on the main updates on standardisation work in a truly global context since the start of the year when work was immediately taken online. 

Here are the main takeaways from the viewpoint of the work led by a sub-set of 3GPP Market Representation Parners supporting industry verticals on 5G standardisation: 5GAA, 5G-IA, 5G-ACIA and PSCE. 

#1 - 3GPP is driving 5G standardisation globally including industry verticals

3GPP is the main standards development organisation for 5G with some 20 Working Groups meeting 4-8 times a year along with other meetings organised by individual WGs. New releases come out every 15 to 24 months. Work is member-driven with over 680 companies taking part and it is consensus based, meaning that there should be no objections from anyone. As work progresses over the various stages, requirements come together at both the technology level and service level.

#2 - Strong work ethics and commitment despite the COVID-19 outbreak 
With meetings now taking place electronically, everyone in 3GPP is working very hard to make the meetings as practical as possible and push work open work items. While there are fewer outputs, they are stable and high-quality. Since there are no knowns about the evolution of the virus, meetings are continuing electronically until ALL travel restrictions from every corner of the world are lifted so nonone is excluded from  joining physical meetings. 
#3 - Work in 3GPP is focusing on the completion of Rel-16 
The completion of Rel-16 has been moved from March to June 2020, a 3-month shift, while still ensuring that the IMT-2020 timeline is met. 3GPP is very positive about meeting the deadlines. 
In the meantime, Rel-17 is starting up on Stage 2 and despite the timeline adjustments the work will stick to the final deadline. In SA, some stage 1 requirements have been collected for Rel-18 but no timeline has yet been set. 
#4 - Support for industry verticals continues in Rel-17 despite some limitations
Adjustments are being made to new support services for newcomers, including industry verticals, building on the high levels of interest and discussions at the newcomer sessions during 3GPP Plenary meetings. While the mentoring process is stalled due to COVID-19, informal discussions with newcomers will pick up, as will interactions with liaison representatives. Progress is also expected on making study and work items more traceable. All these activities will soon be back to full speed. 
Rel-17 brings real changes to the basic system and equipment through RAN and CT for the rollout of new products. It is a guarantee that the verticals will have a base to work on. WGs like SA6 (mission-critical applications) are very confident about Stage 2 having the right people in the room (physical or virtual) to progress on their multi-faceted work. There is also good collaboration between SA2 (architecture), SA6 and CT to ensure a seamless flow of activities. 
#5 - Associations are good entry point for verticals
Companies and other organisations join 3GPP and contribute to it as individuals. However, some verticals are organised into associations that collect use-case requirements as potential inputs, which gives a stronger weight to the work done by verticals in 3GPP. Many such associations are Market Representation Partners (MRPs) of 3GPP and have a special status within it. 
The best time to join is when companies have already looked at what functionalities and features have already been covered and know what they can bring to 3GPP.
SA1 - Services is the starting point, the place to share requirements through a coherent set of specifications. Attending the 3GPP plenaries is also a good step to see what's going on and how the diverse groups work together across different phases. 
Another important point to note is that 3GPP follows a decoupling approach to study and work items not included in a given 3GPP release. In these cases there are two options: they are not brought in again, also because they have been resolved in other ways; they are brought into the next release with new requirements for new evaluation.
On top of the core activities within 3GPP, a sub-group of MRPs also work together to further support the integration of industry vertical needs into the standardisation process. This is same sub-set of MRPs that run this online standards tracker and run a series of webinars and workshops and bringing together standards and sector specialists. 
Presentations and Webinar Recordings
The webinar recordings presentations from 3GPP are available here:
More information on progress is reported in our SA and RAN Debriefs. 
3GPP for Vertical Industries
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