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5G Non-Standalone and Standalone Deployments

5G can be deployed in five different deployment options, where SA (standalone) options consist of only one generation of radio access technology and NSA options consist of two generations of radio access technologies (4G LTE and 5G). The early deployments will be adopting either nonstandalone option 3 or standalone option 2 as the standardisation of these two options have already been completed. 

Non-standalone option 3 is where radio access network is composed of eNBs (eNode Bs) as the master node and gNBs (gNode Bs) as the secondary node (see left side of digram above). The radio access network is connected to EPC (Evolved Packet Core). The NSA option 3, as it leverages existing 4G deployment, can be brought to market quickly with minor modification to the 4G network. This option also supports legacy 4G devices and the 5G devices only need to support NR (New Radio) protocols so device can also be developed quickly. On the other hand, NSA option 3 does not introduce 5GC and therefore may not be optimised for new 5G use cases beyond mobile broadband. 


Standalone option 2 is where radio access network consists of only gNBs (gNode Bs) and connects to 5GC (5G Core), and the 5GC interworks with EPC (see right side of Figure 2). SA option 2 has no impact on LTE radio and can fully support all 5G use cases by enabling network slicing via cloud native service-based architecture. On the other hand, this option requires both NR and 5GC, making time-to-market slower and deployment cost higher than that of NSA option 3. Furthermore, the devices would need to support NR and core network protocols so it would take more time to develop devices. Finally, as the standalone 5G System would need to interwork with EPS to ensure service continuity depending on coverage, the interworking between EPC and 5GC may be necessary.

5G Standalone deployment provides 5G new enhanced features such as network slicing enabling industry 4.0

Source - GSMA

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