Tech Talk: Sapporo, Japan 3GPP Plenary Meetings Recap

October 6, 2017
The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) was pleased to represent public safety interests at the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) Plenary meetings held in Sapporo, Japan last month.
The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) was pleased to represent public safety interests at the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) Plenary meetings held in Sapporo, Japan last month.
By Dean Prochaska, FirstNet Director of Standards

This blog post is part of the "Tech Talk" series focused on FirstNet’s standards development activities to support the public safety community needs.  This post recaps discussions related to Public Safety from the 3GPP Plenary meetings that were conducted September 11-14, 2017 in Sapporo, Japan

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) was pleased to represent public safety interests at the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) Plenary meetings held in Sapporo, Japan last month.  These meetings addressed standards in several areas relevant to the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network.  The 3GPP plenary meetings consisted of three separate plenary group meetings.   

The Radio Access Network (RAN) Plenary In order to provide continuity for what happened in the Radio Access Network (RAN) Plenary this past month in Sapporo, I am providing you with context from the March 2017 RAN meetings in Dubrovnik, Croatia. During these meetings, attendees decided to prioritize the development of 5G specifications to align with planned aggressive deployment schedules of major global mobile network operators. The RAN Plenary agreed to a work plan proposal for the first 3GPP 5G New Radio (NR) specifications that will become part of the global 5G standard.   

The majority of the mobile ecosystem community committed to accelerate the 5G NR schedule by splitting Release 15 into two phases by introducing an early milestone for completion of a variant called Non-Standalone 5G NR. This new milestone will enable large-scale trials and deployments of 5G beginning in 2019.  Both phases are described below: 

  • Phase 1---Non-Standalone 5G NR utilizes the existing LTE radio and core network as an anchor for mobility management and coverage while adding a new 5G carrier. This is the configuration that will be the target of early 2019 deployments (in 3GPP development terminology, this is Non-Standalone 5G NR deployment scenario Option 3). 
  • Phase 2--Standalone 5G NR implies full user and control plane capability for 5G NR, utilizing the new 5G core network architecture also being developed in 3GPP. 

With over 300 global registrants, the RAN plenary meetings in Sapporo last month emphasized the evaluation of all outstanding work items to ensure that previously committed major milestone dates – December 2017 for Phase 1 Non-Standalone and June 2018 for Phase 2 Standalone schedules - are still on target. As a part of the discussions, the scope of Release 15 RAN was downsized in order to remain on schedule and as a result, some features were postponed to future releases.  

The specifications that will be delivered in December 2017 will support global service provider’s plans for early deployment of 5G systems. Additional features that are part of Phase 2 will be supported by way of firmware and/or software updates on the deployed systems, which should enable re-use of the same silicon chips used in Phase 1.  

The Core Network and Terminals (CT) PlenaryThe CT Plenary meeting included over 125 global registrants and addressed several items related to public safety, with an emphasis on acknowledging the completion of Stage 3 work for Release 14 Mission Critical Push-to-Talk (MCPTT) over LTE, Mission Critical Video (MCVideo), and Mission Critical Data (MCData). Notably, each specification set was considered 99%, 98%, and 98% complete, respectively. The remaining work for these features, mostly security aspects, is expected to be completed by December 2017. 

 The Service and System Aspects (SA) PlenaryWith over 200 global registrants, the SA Plenary meeting included a major public safety discussion focused on re-naming the current Mission Critical specifications. For example, the first public safety-oriented 3GPP specification is titled MCPTT over LTE. The “over LTE” text is limiting, since 3GPP has begun the creation of 5G specifications in earnest. Attendees suggested removing the “over LTE” text so that the same specification can be re-used for 5G work. The same applies for the MCVideo and MCData specifications. Removing the “LTE” limitation from these Stage-1 requirements will help evolve the mission critical services in Stages 2 and 3 to support the 5G network. While there was general agreement on removing the “over LTE” phrase of the name, participants also discussed a name change that would impact other industry segments (e.g., railway, maritime, etc.) interested in leveraging 3GPP’s Mission Critical specs, and the majority did not agree to the change.  

The SA plenary committee also discussed the technical report from the study on Interworking between MCPTT and legacy Land Mobile Radio systems.  Work on the normative technical specification for Interworking is now in progress with expected completion in Release 15.  This will include the protocol specifications from the LTE side that will eventually enable vendors to build standardized gateways between MCPTT and legacy Land Mobile Radio systems such as Project 25 (P25).   

Additionally, the committee reviewed studies on Railway Communication and Common API Framework and granted approval to move forward to develop final specifications. The Railway Communication work will leverage the Mission Critical Services specifications and will add to the economy of scale when deploying public safety features. Finally, work items were approved to continue making additions and enhancements to MCPTT, MCVideo, and MCData features.

Go to top