Last December, the 3GPP -- the international organization that oversees cellular standards -- approved a non-standalone 5G specification that still relied on existing 4G/LTE networks. That move got us closer to an actual, functional 5G network. But now we're even closer because the 3GPP just approved standalone 5G specifications. "Now, the whole industry is taking the final sprint towards 5G commercialization," the 3GPP said in a statement.
"Two years ago, 5G was seen as a vision or even just a hype -- with the closing of Rel-15, 3GPP has made 5G a reality within a very short time," Georg Mayer, chairman of 3GPP CT, said in a statement. "The outcome is an amazing set of standards that will not only provide higher data rates and bandwidth to end customers but which is open and flexible enough to satisfy the communication needs of different industries -- 5G will be the integration platform for heterogeneous businesses."
A number of companies are already gearing up for 5G including Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T. "This milestone will allow for more advanced testing using standards-compliant equipment and paves the way for our commercial 5G launch in a dozen cities later this year," AT&T said in a statement.
However, while this is an important step, keep in mind that getting all of the necessary hardware and networks up to speed will likely take some time. There's still plenty of work to do.