Thus far, all 5G roll-outs from US carriers have been “non-standalone” (NSA) 5G, meaning they utilize 4G LTE as the backbone. AT&T has now announced that they will begin deploying standalone 5G in 2020, making them the first carrier to do so. Verizon has said that they will deploy standalone 5G in 2020 or 2021, and T-Mobile plans to begin deployment in the timeframe as well, while Sprint has no plans to move away from NSA 5G.
Standalone 5G will have big advantages for enterprises. “It’s easy to get lower latencies, and you can do network slicing,” says Daryl Schoolar, practice leader of next-generation architecture at Ovum. Network slicing allows the virtualized 5G standalone core to create partitioned virtual segments on the physical network, an important benefit for mission-critical IoT applications.
New devices will be needed to use standalone 5G vs NSA. “The initial devices use silicon that doesn’t support standalone and will continue to be supported by our non-standalone Core,” said an AT&T spokesperson.