Will 3GPP Rel. 16 be standardized on time? Answer from the horse’s mouth! (Analyst Angle)
With COVID-19 novel coronavirus creating havoc and upsetting everybody’s plans, the question on the minds of many people that follow standards development is, “How will it affect the 5G evolution timeline?” The question is even more relevant for Rel. 16, which is expected to be finalized by Jun 2020. I talked at length regarding this with two key leaders of the industry body 3GPP- Mr. Balazs Bertenyi , the Chair of RAN TSG and Mr. Wanshi Chen, Chair of RAN1 Working Group (WG). The message from both was that Rel 16 will be delivered on time. The Rel. 17 timelines were a different story though.
3GPP meetings are spread throughout the year. Many of them are large conference-style gatherings involving hundreds of delegates from across the world. WG meetings happen almost monthly, whereas TSG meetings are held quarterly. The meetings are usually distributed among major member countries, including the US, Europe, Japan, and China. In the first half of the year, there were WG meetings scheduled in Greece in February, and Korea, Japan, and Canada in April, as well as TSG meetings in Jeju, South Korea in March. But because of the virus outbreak, all those face-to-face meetings were canceled and replaced with online meetings and conference calls. As it stands now, the next face-to-face meetings will take place in May, subject to the developments of the virus situation.
Since 3GPP runs on consensus, the lack of face-to-face meetings certainly raises concerns about the progress that can be made as well as its possible effect on the timelines. However, the duo of Mr. Bertenyi and Mr. Wanshi are working diligently to keep the well-oiled standardization machine going. Mr. Bertenyi told me that although face-to-face meetings are the best and the most efficient option, 3GPP is making elaborate arrangements to replace them with virtual means. They have adopted a two-step approach:1) Further expand the ongoing email-based discussions; 2) Multiple simultaneous conference calls mimicking the actual meetings. “We have worked with the delegates from all participant countries to come up with a few convenient four-hour time slots, and will run simultaneous on-line meetings/conference calls and collaborative sessions to facilitate meaningful interaction,” said Bertenyi “We…