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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

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Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics

6 Key Aspects of the 3GPP 5G Release 16 Steve Taranovich

(Source: Ivan Marc/Shutterstock.com)

Why is Release 16 exciting? Well, suppose you are an engineer or tech person, Internet of Things (IoT) enthusiast, or maybe just a smartphone owner who wants the advantages of 5G—such as faster speeds, low latency, enhanced capacity for the IoT, increased bandwidth for transmission of larger amounts of data, and broader coverage. In that case, you should be excited about Release 16.

Release 16 brings to market the effort and technology of new capabilities and functionalities for enterprises and industrial organizations. Far greater performance of efficiency, service, and automation will propel the IoT, V2X, healthcare, and more to new levels and capabilities.

Six key aspects of 5G NR Release 16 are:

  1. C-V2X Sidelinking with 5GNR: Release 16 NR C-V2X direct communication mode (or sidelink) specifications will support advanced use cases that could enhance autonomous driving without using the cellular network.
  1. 5GNR Enhancements:
  • Multi-user, multiple-input, multiple-output technology (MU-MIMO): More antennas will be deployed to achieve large gains from receiver diversity and MIMO
  • Multiple Transmission and Reception Points (Multi TRP), which include macro-cells, small cells, pico-cells, femto-cells, remote radio heads, relay nodes, etc.
  • Better link reliability
  1. 5G in the Unlicensed Spectrum: Release 16 is the first time unlicensed spectrum has been included in 5G’s cellular service.
  1. 5G in Time-sensitive Networking (TSN): Wireline technologies cannot be used and have to be replaced by wireless connections that have to meet the high demands of the industrial landscape.
  1. Integrated Access and Backhaul (IAB): The new release will also address standards for IAB, using “part of your 5G radio for backhaul.” With IAB, not every small cell necessarily has to have fiber going to it; it also can use wireless radio connections.
  1. 5G in IoT/NB-IoT within 5GNR: Release 16 provides the ability to deploy and manage low-power mobile IoT protocols such as NB-IoT over the 5G core network.

In the following, we will discuss some of Release 16’s most dynamic aspects.


Release 16 brings about sidelinking, which is direct device-to-device communication mode. Cellular networks will not be needed to enhance semi-autonomous and even autonomous driving.

Sidelinking is important, especially concerning public safety, because some V2X services will need only to have proximity interest and will need to keep operating even in areas of sparse network coverage (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Public safety is especially enhanced by 5G NR Release 16. (Source: Qualcomm)

Using sidelinking, vehicles will be able to more easily platoon, and important safety features, such as collision avoidance and cooperative lane changing, will become a reality. C-V2X will enable the first meaningful implementation of significant motor/electric vehicle safety and eventually lead to safe autonomous vehicles on the roads.

Multiple Transmission and Reception Points

Another key implementation in realizing a true 5G deployment with Release 16 is Multi-TRP. This will be composed of macro-cells, small cells, pico-cells, femto-cells, remote radio heads (RRH), and relay nodes. All these transmission/reception points will greatly enable better reliability, coverage, and capacity performance.

5G mobile data traffic will grow significantly, especially for wireless devices at the edge of a network cell served by multi-TRPs. Signal transmission and reception will be enhanced, which means increased throughput.

5G in the Unlicensed Spectrum

The present licensed spectrum for 5G has more than 40 bands globally.

The unlicensed spectrum feature unlocks more spectrum globally with access to 5GHz and 6GHz (for example, US 5925-7125MHz, or European 5925-6425MHz).

With 1200MHz of unlicensed bandwidth, a massive amount of new unlicensed spectrum will lead to new verticals and markets with standalone New Radio Unlicensed (NR-U) in the Industrial IoT (IIoT), such as smarter logistics at shipping container ports, increased productivity with connected remote mining, smarter warehouse operation, and more. Anchored NR-U will bring higher speeds to dense urban hotspots, malls, and campuses (Figure 2).

Figure 2: NR-U deployment scenarios include Control Plane (CP) routes shown for Anchored NR-U, while User Plane (UP) routes depend on network design.(Source: Qualcomm)

NR-U should enable fair coexistence with already deployed IEEE 802.11/Wi-Fi systems.

The 6GHz spectrum also brings more bandwidth to Wi-Fi and 5G. Using anchored NR-U to combine another licensed or shared spectrum as an anchor enables licensed-assisted access or shared spectrum such as the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) band and will boost deployments, which gives an improved user experience because of higher 5G speeds. Using standalone NR-U enables the deployment of 5G private networks entirely using the unlicensed spectrum.

5G in Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN)

TSN is a series of standards developed by the Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) task group of the IEEE 802.1 working group. TSN will serve as a critical bridge between information technology networks managing business processes and analytics and the operational technology networks that manage the actual devices operating on the manufacturing floor.

The TSN family of standards will provide networking with accuracy guarantees for time-critical data, ideal for control systems receiving data from sensors, computer vision applications, and much more.

Industry 4.0 and IIoT are being deployed across industrial vertical markets including automotive, oil and gas, utilities, food and beverage, and pharmaceuticals.

5G, with advanced wireless connectivity performance, is transforming the industrial manufacturing process, and Release 16 will improve guaranteed accuracy for time-critical data needed for the control systems that receive data from computer-vision and sensors. 5G strongly relies on low latency and very reliable deterministic capabilities for various industrial control systems and data traffic.

TSN-over-5G will support TSN services over 5G to enable industrial devices such as sensors and actuators to effectively communicate with industrial controllers wirelessly and deterministically. Industry 4.0 solutions need this to help improve factory systems.

Enabling TSN-over-5G are TSN synchronization and TSN Ethernet operation over the 5G system, 5G ultra-reliable low-latency (URLLC) transmission, 5G end-to-end quality-of-service (QoS) management, and intelligent scheduler algorithms.


More dynamic technical advancements will come as 5G services continue to evolve with more advanced solutions. Release 16 brings new capabilities and functionalities for enterprises and industrial organizations. A higher level of efficiency, service, and automation will propel the IoT, V2X, healthcare, and more to new levels and capabilities.

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Steve TaranovichSteve Taranovich is the author of the non-fiction “Guardians of the Right stuff”, a true story of the Apollo program as told by NASA and Grumman Corp. engineers, an astronaut, and technicians. Steve was the Experienced Editor-In-Chief of EETimes/Planet Analog and Senior Technical Editor at EDN running the Analog and Power Management Design Centers from 2012 to 2019. He has a demonstrated history in electronic circuit design and applications for 40 years, and 9 years of technical writing and editing in industry. Skilled in Analog Electronics, Space-related Electronics, Audio, RF & Communications, Power Management, Electrical  Engineering, and Integrated Circuits (IC). Steve Taranovich is a strong media and communications professional with a BEEE from NYU Engineering, 1972, and an MSEE from Polytech University in 1989. From 1972 to 1988, he worked as a circuit design engineer in audio (8 years) and microwave (8 years).

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