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The 5G standard is finally finished with new standalone specification

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Now the real work begins

5g Image: 3GPP

It’s been a long time coming, but there’s finally a finished 5G standard. Earlier this week, the 3GPP — the international group that governs cellular standards — officially signed off on the standalone 5G New Radio (NR) spec. It’s another major step toward next-generation cellular networks finally becoming a reality.

Now, if you’ve been paying attention to the cellular industry, this may sound familiar and for good reason: the 3GPP also announced a finished 5G standard in December 2017. The difference is that the December specification was for the non-standalone version of 5G NR, which would still be built on top of existing legacy LTE networks. The agreed-upon specification from this week is the standalone version of 5G, which allows for new deployments of 5G in places that didn’t necessarily have that existing infrastructure.

Now that both halves of the specification have been completed, that means that 5G as a standard is technically “finished.” Of course, as Fierce Wireless points out, there’s still more work to be done to finalize things. The real work will be waiting for the entire industry to build the hardware, infrastructure, chips, modems, phones, and antennas that will actually work with 5G. Don’t forget the massive undertaking of actually rolling out those new networks across the globe.