We seen 3GPP attempts to ride on unlicensed horse with LTE-U, that later tuned into LAA ( a licensed assisted mechanism), with LTE advanced capabilities. An we are continuously observing the cellular technology providers trying to tame the this horse in their favor - the unlicensed. There had been a hostile atmosphere for WiFi and LTE coexistence between WiFi Alliance and GSMA, and we seen rude debated for standardizing respective test cases. I don't remember where the things standing now.
But WiFi has maintained its solid sovereignty and emerged with its new versions recently named as WiFi 6, in such a capacity that many started assuming WiFi being a part of 5G itself, though we all know its ride on different horse.
Taming this unlicensed is turning into an obsession, as WiFi with its advancement and likability may cover up a significant market in broadband space and IOT use cases. 3GPP don't want to brook it, in fact cellular technology provider knows about the ride of it so putting the new rider like NR-U SA, targeted to be in Rel 17 and 18.
In a plenary meeting in Sorrento, Italy, 3GPP members approved making 5G NR-U a work item slated for inclusion in Release 16.
Look at the Blog from Qualcomm, what is says in general about NR-U.
Licensed spectrum is essential for cellular communication and that will continue in the 5G era especially for the traditional mobile broadband services launching next year. But when it comes to extending 5G into new markets, I think the opportunities generated by adding support for unlicensed spectrum cannot be overstated.
The NR-U work item that was just approved by 3GPP supports both the existing 5GHz unlicensed band as well as the new "greenfield" 6GHz unlicensed band. In subsequent releases, I expect the addition of other unlicensed and shared spectrum bands, including mmWave. The work item covers five scenarios with functionalities such as Carrier Aggregation (within one eNodeB), dual connectivity (across two eNodeBs), LTE anchor in licensed spectrum, 5G NR anchor in licensed spectrum, uplink only in licensed spectrum, downlink only in unlicensed spectrum as well as stand-alone operation. For the purpose of simplicity, I am collapsing these scenarios into two main modes of operation:
- Licensed assisted access NR-U
- Stand-alone NR-U
Qualcomm has been not very explicit to say it as counterfeit for WiFi but putting it as answer to LTE multifire.
whatever way you take your target is well understood. But it will be leading to an interesting spree of events, debates and discussions.