Mobile standards body 3GPP placed a number of 5G New Radio (NR) study items on hold as it works to hit a December deadline to release Non-standalone specifications.

In a webcast earlier this week, 3GPP RAN chairman Balazs Bertenyi explained study items on non-orthogonal multiple access, unlicensed spectrum for NR, non-terrestrial network channel modelling, enhanced vehicle to everything (eV2X) evaluation methodology, and integrated access and backhaul will remain on hold until December so 3GPP can finish its work on the non-standalone enhanced mobile broadband standards.

Unlike standalone 5G NR, which calls for full 5G user and control plane capabilities, the non-standalone setup will allow operators to add a new 5G carrier on top of their existing LTE radio and core networks. The non-standalone specifications are set to be released in December and finalised by March 2018 per an accelerated 5G NR standards timeline outlined earlier this year.

“We have already committed ourselves to doing some NR-related study items for the next wave of NR specifications in Release 16, but given the challenges we have to finish Release 15 on time, we are going to put the study items on hold,” Bertenyi said.

Bertenyi said 3GPP plans to make up for lost time on the paused items in the first half of 2018.

The accelerated release schedule will allow for widespread non-standalone 5G deployments from operators as soon as early 2019. AT&T set the bar even higher, aiming to begin deployments in late 2018. Verizon is also targeting commercial 5G launches in 2018.