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5G NR (New Radio) is a new radio access technology (RAT) developed by 3GPP for the 5G (fifth generation) mobile network.[1] It was designed to be the global standard for the air interface of 5G networks.[2]

The 3GPP specification 38 series[3] provides the technical details behind NR, the RAT beyond LTE.

Study of NR within 3GPP started in 2015, and the first specification was made available by the end of 2017. While the 3GPP standardization process was ongoing, industry had already begun efforts to implement infrastructure compliant with the draft standard, with the expectation that the first large-scale commercial launch of 5G NR would occur in 2019.

Frequency bands[edit]

5G NR uses two frequency ranges:[4]

  1. Frequency Range 1 (FR1), including sub-6 GHz frequency bands
  2. Frequency Range 2 (FR2), including frequency bands in the mmWave range (24–100 GHz)

Network deployments[edit]

Ooredoo was the first carrier to launch a commercial 5G NR network, in May 2018 in Qatar. Other carriers around the world have been following suit.


In 2018, 3GPP published Release 15, which includes what is described as "Phase 1" standardization for 5G NR. The timeline for Release 16, which will be "5G phase 2", follows a freeze date of March 2020 and a completion date of June 2020,[5] Release 17 was originally scheduled for delivery in September 2021.[6] but, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was rescheduled for June 2022.[7]

Deployment modes[edit]

Initial 5G NR launches will depend on existing 4G LTE infrastructure in non-standalone (NSA) mode, before maturation of the standalone (SA) mode with the 5G core network. Additionally, the spectrum can be dynamically shared between 4G LTE and 5G NR.

Non-standalone mode[edit]

The non-standalone (NSA) mode of 5G NR refers to an option of 5G NR deployment that depends on the control plane of an existing 4G LTE network for control functions, while 5G NR is exclusively focused on the user plane.[8][9] This is reported to speed up 5G adoption, however some operators and vendors have criticized prioritizing the introduction of 5G NR NSA on the grounds that it could hinder the implementation of the standalone mode of the network.[10][11]

Dynamic spectrum sharing[edit]

To make better use of existing assets, carriers may opt to dynamically share it between 4G LTE and 5G NR. The spectrum is multiplexed over time between both generations of mobile networks, while still using the 4G LTE network for control functions, depending on user demand. Dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) may be deployed on existing 4G LTE equipment as long as it is compatible with 5G NR. Only the 5G NR terminal needs to be compatible with DSS.[12]

Standalone mode[edit]

The standalone (SA) mode of 5G NR refers to using 5G cells for both signalling and information transfer.[8] It includes the new 5G Packet Core architecture instead of relying on the 4G Evolved Packet Core,[13][14] to allow the deployment of 5G without the LTE network.[15] It is expected to have lower cost, better efficiency, and to assist development of new use cases.[10][16]

Numerology (sub-carrier spacing)[edit]

5G NR supports five sub-carrier spacings:

Sub-Carrier Spacing (kHz) Slot duration (ms) Frequency Bands Notes
15 1 FR1 Same as LTE
30 0.5 FR1
60 0.25 FR1 and FR2 Both normal Cyclic Prefix (CP) and extended CP may be used with 60 kHz sub-carrier spacing
120 0.125 FR2 This is the highest sub-carrier spacing for the path of data
240 0.0625 FR2 This is only possible for search and measurement purposes, using the Synchronization Signal Block (SSB)

The length of CP is inversely proportional to the sub-carrier spacing. It is 4.7 micro-second with 15 kHz, and 4.7 / 16 = 0.29 micro-second for 240 kHz sub-carrier spacing.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "What is 5G New Radio (5G NR)". 5g.co.uk.
  2. ^ "Making 5G New Radio (NR) a Reality – The Global 5G Standard - IEEE Communications Society". comsoc.org.
  3. ^ "3GPP specification series: 38series". www.3gpp.org. Retrieved 2018-10-31.
  4. ^ 5G/NR - FR/Operating Bandwidth
  5. ^ "Release 16". 3GPP. Retrieved 2020-01-06.
  6. ^ "Release 17". 3GPP. Retrieved 2020-01-06.
  7. ^ "Release 17 timeline agreed". 3GPP.
  8. ^ a b "5G NR Deployment Scenarios or modes-NSA,SA,Homogeneous,Heterogeneous". rfwireless-world.com.
  9. ^ Junko Yoshida. "What's Behind 'Non-Standalone' 5G?". Eetimes.com. Retrieved 2018-11-13.
  10. ^ a b Teral, Stephane (2019-01-30). "5G best choice architecture" (PDF). ZTE. Retrieved 2019-02-01.
  11. ^ "3GPP Approves Plans to Fast Track 5G NR - Light Reading".
  12. ^ "Spectrum sharing for fast & smooth 5G deployment". Ericsson. Retrieved 2020-04-22.
  13. ^ "Standalone or Non-Standalone? 5G Trials Will Help Orange Decide - Light Reading".
  14. ^ "5G Non Standalone Solution Overview" (PDF).
  15. ^ "Defining NG Core for 5G Networks - Light Reading".
  16. ^ "5G: What is Standalone (SA) vs Non-Standalone (NSA) Networks?". MediaTek. 12 November 2018.