3GPP Rel-19: Maturing 5G-Advanced 

Introduction 

3GPP Release-19 is the second release of the 5G-Advanced standard. Early workshops on this release were held in June 2023 discussing hundreds of submissions. For the RAN part, a summary of the Release-19 workshop can be found in [1]. The original assumption was that 3GPP Rel-19 would primarily focus on investing in the 5G-Advanced commercial deployments to further improve performance and address critical needs by continuing balanced evolutions between:  

  • mobile broadband evolution vs. further vertical domain expansion, 
  • immediate vs. longer-term commercial needs, 
  • device vs. network evolution. 

During the plenary TSGs #100 (Technical Specification Groups) meetings, 3GPP started the process of deciding what will be worked on within Rel-19. The content of Rel-19 was decided at the December 2023 TSGs (#102) [2].  

The currently included items (both work- and study items, WIs/SIs) cover, among others, topics like: 

  • Mobile metaverse and extended reality (XR); 
  • AI/ML model transfer; 
  • Edge computing and mission-critical communications; 
  • Satellite access, UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), and FMRCS (Future Mobile Railway Communications System) communications extensions; 
  • Ambient IoT and integrated sensing; 
  • Energy efficiency enhancements; 
  • Network sharing and NPN (Non-Public Network); 
  • Multiple studies on security (e.g., for NPN, RTC – Real Time Communications, satellite access, and zero trust); 
  • Multiple studies on management aspects (e.g., NTN – Non-Terrestrial Network, IAB – Integrated Access and Backhaul, network sharing, RedCap – Reduced Capability, and Digital Twin). 

In this post, we’re elaborating on the contents of the selected WIs and SIs to be incorporated within 3GPP Rel-19 as of December 2023. 

3GPP Timeline

The current 3GPP releases with an “open” status (i.e., subject to active 3GPP work) are [3]: 

  • Release 18, whose start date was 09.2019, and the end date is scheduled on 06.2024 (i.e., to be completed on SA#104); 
  • Release 19, with a start date of 06.2021, and a completion date of 12.2025 during SA#110. 

Both of them relate to the 5G-Advanced system. A more detailed schedule can be found in [2], with the following dates and corresponding meeting IDs: 

  • RAN1 completion (functional freeze) of Rel-18 during RAN1 #101 in Q3 2023, and targeting the completion of Rel-19 features by RAN1 #108 in Q2 2025; 
  • RAN2/3/4 completion (functional freeze) of Rel-18 during RAN2/3/4 #102 in Q4 2023, and targeting the completion of Rel-19 features by RAN2/3/4 #109 in Q3 2025; 
  • SA (System Architecture)/CT (Core Network and Terminals) completion (functional freeze) of Rel-18 during SA/CT #103 in Q1 2024, and targeting completion of Rel-19 features by SA/CT #109 in Q3 2025; 
  • ASN1 freeze of Rel-18 in Q2 2024 (SA#104) and Rel-19 ASN1 freeze in Q4 2025 (SA#110). 

3GPP Rel-19 Features 

As of December 2023/January 2024, there are quite a bunch of items being worked on in 3GPP for Rel-19, with a full list available in [4]. See Fig. 1 for the WI list of Rel-19. 

Fig. 1. 3GPP Rel-19 Features (WIs)

Let me now touch upon some of those items with more details. The descriptions of the below Study Items (i.e., feasibility studies/technical analysis on a particular topic) and Work Items (i.e., normative specification work) are based on SIDs and WIDs (Study / Work Item Description) from [3]. 

Study on Ambient Power-Enabled IoT (FS_AmbientIoT) [5]  
This SI aims to study the support of ambient power-enabled IoT, i.e., devices with low power consumption and complexity, of very small size, and long life cycles, utilizing nonconventional power sources.  The energy for those shall be provided through the harvesting of radio waves, light, motion, heat, or other power sources. The objectives of the SI include studies of use cases (e.g., industrial wireless sensor network, smart logistics and warehousing, smart home network, smart agriculture) and service requirements, like: security aspects (authentication, authorization, etc.); network selection, access control, connection, mobility and identification management, charging, interactions with PLMNs, NPNs, etc.; positioning; device lifecycle management; traffic scenarios and device constraints. 

Mobile Metaverse Services (Metaverse) [6]  
This WI aims to add requirements for handling XR media to support new use cases included in the “mobile metaverse” (i.e., a persistent, shared, set of interactive perceived spaces). The services are mobile in the sense that mobile users can interact with those services anywhere. The requirements, that will be covered in the WI include: localized mobile metaverse service functionality, digital representation of users and avatar functionality, operation efficiency, exposure, coordination of metaverse services, digital asset management, security, privacy aspects, and charging requirements for mobile metaverse services.  

Integrated Sensing and Communication (Sensing) [7]  
Integrated sensing and communication in a 5G system corresponds to having the sensing capabilities provided by the same system and infrastructure as used for communication services. This WI aims to specify service requirements for 5G wireless sensing support (i.e., acquiring information about a remote object or environment and its characteristics). The objectives cover KPIs and functional system requirements for wireless sensing service including: configuration and authorization, network exposure, charging, security, and privacy aspects. The WI is based on the previous SI on the same, which studied how 5G can enable sensing capabilities within various scenarios, e.g., intruder detection, monitoring, tracking, collision avoidance, etc.  

Satellite Access Phase 3 (5GSAT_Ph3) [8]  
This WI aims to introduce normative service requirements related to the 5G system with satellite access for store and forward satellite operation, UE-satellite-UE communication, GNSS independent operation, positioning enhancements for satellite access, information collection via satellite connections, etc. It is based on the previous study, which investigated use cases and requirements related to 5G with satellite access covering the abovementioned capabilities. 

Uncrewed Aerial System Phase 3 (UAS_Ph3) [9]  
This WI targets to improve 5G support for UAV applications, operations, and management. The objectives are to enhance the network support and exposure for: UAV usage with requirements on prediction and monitoring of network conditions, connection availability, and QoS along a flight path; flight path planning, tracking of UAVs without NW subscription; reliability of command and control traffic for UAV; providing of flexible UAV communication control over the identified flight zone. The second set of objectives for this WI covers further enhancement of the control, safety, and security of UAV operations with requirements on: the detection of 3GPP connected flying UAV using non-aerial subscriptions; UAV to UAV controller (UAV-C) visual LoS constraint; flight path deviation and violation; and detection of non-3GPP connected flying objects. 

Energy Efficiency as Service Criteria (EnergyServ) [10]  
This WI will consider how to deliver services with energy efficiency as service criteria, associated with applications’ preferences, and how to support the policy of handling energy as part of a subscription. It aims at developing the requirements regarding the enhancements of 5G network EE and application service enabler aspects covering: energy-related information as service criteria; support of different energy states of NW elements and NFs; optimization of 5G NFs based on energy-related information; temporary coverage layer pooling for energy saving purposes; EE-related monitoring and measurement; energy-related information exposure; and security, charging and privacy. 

Study on Architecture Enhancement for Extended Reality and Media Service (XRM) Phase 2 (FS_XRM_Ph2) [11]  
This SI aims to investigate the enhancements for 5GS for extended reality and media services (XRM) covering the following example items: PDU Set based QoS handling (e.g., new standardized 5QI, alternative QoS profiles, control/user plane information provided by the application functions and the corresponding QoS handling enhancements); QoS control and PDU Set identification for XR stream with E2E encryption; PDU Set based QoS handling in UL; enhancements for traffic detection and QoS flow mapping for different media types multiplexed within a single transport connection; network exposure aspects, like how XR related network capability/information can be exposed towards the application layer (e.g., if the requested QoS profile cannot be activated – NW could indicate alternative QoS profile). This SI will also study the enhancements related to XR support on non-3GPP access including, e.g., how PDU Set QoS control can be extended to non-3GPP access networks. 

Study on Network Sharing Aspects (FS_NetShare) [12]  
This SI aims to investigate alternative types of network sharing scenarios, in which 5G RAN is shared among multiple operators, e.g., without assuming a direct link between shared access and core network (i.e., no N2 interface) – called indirect network sharing. The main objective of this SI is to obtain the new requirements for enhancements to 3GPP system support for 5G network sharing deployment scenarios, in particular for indirect network sharing. The following aspects shall be considered: mobility and service continuity when moving from a non-shared 4G/5G NW to a shared 5G NW and vice-versa; security and charging requirements; user/service experience when accessing the shared networks; regulatory requirements, emergency services, etc. 

Indirect Network Sharing (NetShare) [13]  
Indirect network sharing relates to supporting RAN sharing without a direct connection between the shared NG-RAN and the operator’s core network. This WI complements the SI FS_NetShare (see above) and aims to define normative requirements for indirect network sharing, covering mobility, network access control, regulatory services, and charging aspects.  

FRMCS Phase 5 (FRMCS_Ph5) [14]  
This WI touches upon the further enhancements for Future Railway Mobile Communication System (FMRCS) including: ad-hoc group (e.g. alert or call) to support railway emergency communication, and location-based services (e.g., mission-critical mobility service by leveraging sophisticated controllable location information and high accuracy). 

AI/ML Model Transfer Phase 2 (AIML_MT_Ph2) [15]  
Involving devices in the AI/ML workflow requires touching upon several requirements, like splitting AI/ML operation between AI/ML endpoints for AI inference, AI/ML model/data distribution and sharing, and distributed/federated learning. This then requires leveraging direct device connection with new functional and performance requirements, like QoS support, member selection, service continuity, charging, and enabling the usage of the direct device connection per se. This WI aims to specify KPI and functional requirements for the 5G system to support AI/ML data transfer by leveraging direct device connection under 5G NW control. The new use cases cover AI/ML operations using direct device connection for various applications (e.g., auto-driving, remote robot control, video recognition).  

Study on Network of Service Robots with Ambient Intelligence (FS_SOBOT) [16]  
This SI aims to identify use cases and aspects related to efficient communications and cooperative operation for a group of service robots. The specific objectives include the studies of: exposure of information between the application layer and communications layer (e.g., capability to handle on-demand high-priority events); support of on-demand high-priority communications, to help avoid or minimize disruptions of service robot operation; support of time-bounded communication to help timely delivery of information/data between multiple service robots; support of scalable and efficient use of communication resources needed for stable operation of multiple service robots especially for a large number of service robots; requirements related to media applications specific for service robots (e.g. speech, haptics, multiple simultaneous media types); and aspects related to security, privacy, and charging; requirements relevant to support particular use cases of service robots that have human-machine and machine-machine interactions. 

Supporting UE Mobility for XR Services (XRMobility) [17]  
Mobile extended reality (XR) services shall offer anywhere/anytime interactive experiences (e.g. real-time training, gaming, and collaboration). The VR devices are currently portable mobiles, which could support access to the services when traveling on public transport. This WI aims to specify the 5G system support service continuity for XR services in general and connectivity for XR services within high mobility scenarios. The key requirement is to support seamless access to AR/VR applications considering mobility patterns with speeds up to 120km/h for vehicles and up to 500km/h for trains. 

Edge Computing for Industrial Scenarios (EDGINDUS) [18]  
This WI aims at defining 5G service requirements on edge computing for industrial manufacturing scenarios with particular emphasis: on clarifications on privacy and security protection for mobile robots and AGVs (automated guided vehicles); new use cases for industrial edge computing with a focus on digital twin.  

Measurement Data Collection (MeasureData) [19]  
Considering that QoS is the key factor to impact vertical applications, it is very important to support QoS monitoring. On the other end, to date, 5G system does not support per-packet QoS monitoring (important especially for applications utilizing URLLC services, e.g., motion control and high-speed current differential protection) and does not clearly specify the refresh rate for QoS monitoring (i.e., determining who can specify the refresh rate and if the collection rate and monitoring result reporting refresh rate are the same). Thus, the 5G system can’t support sufficient monitoring and reporting granularity for network operators and vertical industry users to accurately and instantly determine whether the service fault or interruption is caused by the communication network. This WI aims at specifying requirements to address this, i.e. to enable support for advanced QoS monitoring. The particular objectives include: the definition of requirements for QoS monitoring with per-packet granularity; activation and deactivation of QoS monitoring to report on data packets not meeting assumed QoS level; and clarification of existing refresh rate for QoS monitoring.  

NPN Security Considerations (SecNPN) [20]  
Non-Public Network (NPN, also called Private Mobile Network) can be deployed as a standalone network, can be hosted by a PLMN (NPN relies on PLMN), or can be offered as a slice of a PLMN (NPN relies on NPN). The physical security of NPN customer premises (i.e., where the NPN is deployed) might be weaker than traditional MNO CN (Core Network) facilities. Additionally, if NPN customers do not provide a secure O&M (Operation and Maintenance) procedure, there is a risk of unauthorized control of the dedicated NFs by attackers. Through anomaly operation of the dedicated NFs, they may obtain sensitive information from the NFs in the host PLMN, such as their topology information. Attackers may utilize this information to launch attacks (e.g. DDoS, Distributed Denial-of-Service attacks) on the host PLMN. Existing protection mechanisms do not address the risk in intra-NPN scenarios. Thus dedicated NFs deployed in customer premises may lead to the compromise of the security of the PLMN that hosts NPN. This WI aims at addressing security aspects of the PLMN when it hosts an NPN (i.e., considers the NPN which is made available via a PLMN).  

Enhanced Mission Critical Architecture for Rel-19 (enhMC) [21]  
This WI focuses on the overall mission-critical (MC) architecture covering all MC services. The particular objectives for this work include: analysis of the overall MC architecture to identify architectural aspects which are not yet fully specified and specify the corresponding requirements, procedures, information flows, and configuration parameters; specification of the relevant MCPTT solutions to be applied to MCVideo and MCData services whenever possible; specification for the MC architecture support for enhancements related to MC service reliability (e.g., handling of bearer establishment failure for group calls), discreet listening and logging for MC services, message storage coverage to MCPTT and MCVideo, support for broadband callout feature, etc. 

Addition of 256-bit Security Algorithms (256Algo) [22]  
This WI targets the definition of new 256-bit integrity and encryption algorithms for 5G NAS and AS layers based on AES, SNOW, and ZUC, including algorithm specification, implementation, and conformance test data. The application of those looks towards enhancements for quantum computing. 

Summary

Summing up the above, the general direction of 3GPP Rel-19 is expansion towards vertical applications. The set of features could be grouped into several main topics: 

  • 5G support for cutting-edge use cases and services, like XR or metaverse; 
  • 5G architectural aspects for industrial scenarios and service robots; 
  • Enhancements of the architecture for Satellite and UAV support, as well as novel network-sharing scenarios; 
  • AI/ML enhancements to be supported within the 5G system; 
  • Energy efficiency is a big topic itself, with the recent items targeting encapsulating service criteria; 
  • Support for IoT-related features, like ambient devices and integrated communications and sensing; 
  • Advancements in various aspects of security for, e.g., NPN or mission-critical services. 

In those topics, you could find enhancements to the already settled functionality, as well as new topics that provide further advancements to the 5G-Advanced system. 

If you are interested in our coverage of Rel-18 (first release of 5G-Advanced) features from the perspective of RAN and SA, have a look at the previous posts on this topic: 3GPP Rel-18: The Preliminary Discussions, 5G-Advanced: 3GPP Rel-18 SA2 Features, and 5G-Advanced: 3GPP Rel-18 SA2 Features

References

[1] https://www.3gpp.org/FTP/Meetings_3GPP_SYNC/Workshop/2023_06_RAN_Rel19_WS/Docs/RWS-230488.zip 
[2] Release 19 (3gpp.org) 
[3] 3GPP Portal > Home 
[4] https://www.3gpp.org/ftp/information/Work_Plan
[5] SP-220085 
[6] SP-230509 
[7] SP-230750 
[8] SP-230516 
[9] SP-230518 
[10] SP-230520 
[11] SP-231198 
[12] SP-220087 
[13] SP-230511 
[14] SP-230512 
[15] SP-230514 
[16] SP-220447 
[17] SP-230233 
[18] SP-230229 
[19] SP-221263 
[20] SP-230523 
[21] SP-230988 
[22] SP-231159 
[23] „TSG SA Update on Rel-18 and Rel-19”, TSDSI Outreach Workshop at 3GPP TSG #101 – Sep 15, 2023

Author Bio

Marcin Dryjanski received his Ph.D. (with distinction) from the Poznan University of Technology in September 2019. Over the past 12 years, Marcin served as an R&D engineer and consultant, technical trainer, technical leader, advisor, and board member. Marcin has been involved in 5G design since 2012 when he was a work-package leader in the FP7 5GNOW project. Since 2018, he is a Senior IEEE Member. He is a co-author of many articles on 5G and LTE-Advanced Pro and a co-author of the book „From LTE to LTE-Advanced Pro and 5G” (M. Rahnema, M. Dryjanski, Artech House 2017). From October 2014 to October 2017, he was an external advisor at Huawei Technologies Sweden AB, working on algorithms and architecture of the RAN network for LTE-Advanced Pro and 5G systems.​ Marcin is a co-founder of Grandmetric, where he served as a board member and wireless architect between 2015 and 2020. Currently, he serves as CEO and principal consultant at Rimedo Labs.

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