In News: India’s largest telecom company Reliance Jio announced the launch of its 5G services in 4 metros.
- The company said it will launch its 5G services on “standalone” 5G architecture, against the “non-standalone” approach.
What are the two different modes of 5G networks?
- 5G networks are deployed mainly on two modes: standalone and non-standalone.
- Both architectures have their advantages and disadvantages, and the path chosen by operators primarily reflects their view of the market for the new technology.
- In the standalone mode the 5G network operates with dedicated equipment, and runs parallel to the existing 4G network, while in the non-standalone mode, the 5G network is supported by the 4G core infrastructure.
- Given that the non-standalone networks are built on existing infrastructure, the initial cost and the time taken to roll out services through this track is significantly less than standalone networks.
What are the key differentiators between standalone and non-standalone 5G networks?
- The standalone mode provides access to full 5G capabilities and new network functionalities such as slicing that provides greater flexibility to operators to efficiently use their spectrum holdings.
- Non-standalone networks are generally considered to be a stepping stone.
- The non-standalone mode, however, lets operators maximise the utilisation of their existing network infrastructure with relatively lower investment.
- The biggest difference in the two architectures is the compatibility with existing device ecosystems.
- Most smartphones today have capability to connect to non-standalone 5G networks — which are essentially 5G airwaves transmitted through 4G networks — and will require software updates by their OEMs to be able to connect to standalone networks.
Does the nature of the 5G network also determine use cases?
- For most industrial use cases such as manufacturing, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, the speeds and latency levels offered by 5G telephony are the key selling propositions.
- These low latencies and high Internet speeds can only be made available through the standalone architecture.
- Also, given the high investments that would have typically gone into standalone modes, operators would look at designing high-margin offerings for business customers on these networks.
- Comparatively, the early rollout timelines and low infrastructure costs would make non-standalone networks more attractive for smartphone users.
- Non-standalone is the most widely available ecosystem in the world.