Standards body 3GPP pushed back the release of the next two batches of 5G protocols by three months, the latest impact of the global outbreak of Covid-19 (coronavirus) on the global mobile industry.

By its new timeline Stage 3 Release 16 specifications will be finalised in June, with the propsed date for the subsequent Release 17 shifted to December 2021.

The delay is part of the organisation’s response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, which also includes the cancellation of all face-to-face working groups and full meetings until at least May.

Its various activities have been switched to online formats where possible.

The final version of Release 16 will set out specifications designed to improve the efficiency of 5G networks, including measures around power consumption and mitigation of interference. The technologies covered include enhanced MIMO (eMIMO), enhanced Dual Connectivity and self-organising networks (SON).

It will also set out new API frameworks, access to unlicensed spectrum, and include enhancements to protocols for Vehicle-to-everything (V2X) and industrial IoT applications.

Release 17 will likely address specifications for further RAN upgrades, update existing protocols and cover further new technologies.