It seems likely that 3GPP Release 17, the next major update to the 5G standards, will be delayed until 2022 because of disruption to the process as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Engineers working on the specifications “have been forced to meet virtually instead of face-to-face, and this has resulted in slower progress,” explained Brian Daly, AVP of standards and industry alliances at AT&T, on a recent virtual event. Any updates to the schedule will be officially discussed and confirmed at 3GPP’s December meeting.
“Although no decisions have been made, it is definitely more than likely that Release 17 will get delayed until 2022 and/or the release will undergo downscoping, meaning the removal of proposed functionality that is currently planned for the release,” wrote Michael Thelander, president of SRG Research. “From what I understand, there won’t be physical meetings until at least the second half of 2021 and things go much slower with online meetings…. I think 3GPP wants to make one big decision versus delaying things by three months, then another three months, then another.”
Release 17 is set to incorporate a wide range of new features including sidelink, ‘5G Light’ and advanced device power saving.