5G NR Release 16 greatly expands the reach of 5G to realize new services, spectrum, and deployments. It offers many enhancements to the initial deployed 3GPP Release 15 5G system, to further improve capacity, coverage, power efficiency, mobility, latency, reliability etc.

Some of these are extensions to existing features, and others are new features for addressing new industry verticals and network deployment scenarios. For instance, Minimization of Drive Test (MDT) feature was first introduced for 4G LTE with an aim to use measurements reports from User Equipment (UE) to simplify network planning and optimization tasks that would otherwise depend entirely on live drive testing. With Release 16 enhancements, MDT can also be applied to 5G NR networks.

Observed Time Difference of Arrival (OTDOA) is one of the positioning methods which was initially introduced for 4G LTE and is now extended into 5G NR. OTDOA relies on the UE measuring the time difference of Positioning Reference Signal (PRS) received from multiple cells and uses this to compute its location, with support from a location server.

Another highly anticipated and planned implementation in 3GPP Release 16 is the introduction of FR1 + FR2 NR Dual Connectivity. Prior to this, mmWave implementation has to rely on EN-DC which is NSA operation, where although the mmWave physical layer offers much wider bandwidth for higher data transfer rates, it is still limited on EPC core side. With this implementation of FR1 + FR2 NR-DC, mmWave can also be operated on 5G core, to unleash the full potential of 5G.

NR-NR Dual Connectivity

Power saving function to extend battery life is also one of the key new Release 16 features. The features include new wakeup signal (WUS), enhanced cross-slot scheduling, UE Assistance Information and optimized UE radio capability signaling (RACS). In addition, Release 16 mobility enhancements such as Conditional Handover (CHO), Overheating Assistance Information and SON (Self Organizing Network) are also being studied.

3GPP Features for Various Industry Verticals

On contribution to the development of UE, Anritsu has collaborated with multiple chipset vendors to validate latest 3GPP Release 16 test cases. For details, please refer to following articles on recent Anritsu 5G developments

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