Standalone and non-standalone 5G networks


    In News

    • Recently, India’s largest telecom company Reliance announced the launch of its 5G services in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai this year with an aim to expand and cover the entire country by 2023.
      • The company said it will launch its 5G services on standalone 5G architecture. 

    5G smartphone ecosystem in India

    • Steady rise: Share of 5G smartphones in India has been on a steady rise over the last two years.
      • 5G-enabled smartphones accounted for a paltry 3 percent of overall smartphone shipments in India, which is expected to grow to 35 per cent by the end of 2022.

    About Standalone and non-standalone 5G networks 

    • 5G networks are deployed mainly on two modes: standalone and non-standalone.
    • Standalone mode
      • The 5G network operates with dedicated equipment, and runs parallel to the existing 4G network.
      • 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 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. 
      • The non-standalone mode, however, lets operators maximise the utilisation of their existing network infrastructure with relatively lower investment. 
      • 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. 

    Significance of 5G

    • Faster Internet speeds: 5G will allow for much faster Internet speeds and lower latency compared to 4G. 
      • Peak speeds could touch 10 Gbps compared to the 100 Mbps for 4G. 
    • Lower Latency: While 4G latency is 10-100 milliseconds, on 5G it is expected to be less than 1 millisecond.
      • Latency is the time it takes for a device to send packets of data and get a response. Shorter the latency, quicker the response.