The ABI Research director explained that 3GPP Release 18, which is branded as 5G-Advanced, will be frozen in March 2024
5G-Advanced is expected to introduce many new features that can help operators monetize their 5G networks, Dimitris Mavrakis, senior research director at ABI Research, told RCR Wireless News.
“These include advanced support for extended reality (e.g. virtual reality, cloud gaming, augmented reality), better performance for existing networks, advanced positioning capabilities, enhanced sidelink and new device types that include sensor-based devices , more advanced capabilities and industry-specific devices,” the analyst said.
Mavrakis also noted that 5G-Advanced introduces new network management and deployment capabilities, including enhanced coverage, network performance and most importantly, the capability to utilize artificial intelligence (AI) to manage the network.
He also explained that 3GPP Release 18, which is branded as 5G-Advanced, will be frozen in March 2024. “So we should expect relevant features to start appearing in the market end-2024 with additional commercialization in 2025 and after,” Mavrakis added.
Regarding the new use cases to be enabled by 5G-Advanced, the analyst noted that he believes significant effort has been put towards Extended Reality (XR) and specific enterprise capabilities, such as positioning and Sidelink.
Commenting on the importance of artificial intelligence and machine learning in future 5G-Advanced networks, Mavrakis said that these two technologies will play a key role. “This is perhaps the most important addition in 5G-Advanced, where AI/ML is used to manage the network. This will provide a more flexible, automated and cost-effective way to manage the network and improve performance and costs,” he said.
“In terms of innovations, we still need to wait for commercialization of Release 18, which will happen in 2-3 years, but several vendors are already developing AI/ML 5G network management tools,” he added.
Mavrakis also highlighted that network management using AI/ML will make it easier for operators to manage their IoT products and network capabilities.
He also agreed with the general idea that 5G-Advanced technology will act as a bridge that will connect 5G with future 6G networks. “For certain, 6G will be developed on AI/ML and automated network capabilities. Other capabilities that include Sidelink and positioning will also help the industry understand what vertical markets need, and these will surely feed into the discussions for 6G standardization. However, we should expect that 5G and 5G-Advanced will remain in the market for many years to come, and 6G is not likely to replace them, but augment them.”
RCR Wireless News published an editorial report dubbed “5G-Advanced deep dive: state of standards, products and use cases”, in which key industry leaders and analysts deep dive into 5G-Advanced progress in terms of standardization, as well as the new features and use cases that it will enable. Click here to access the report.