5G Non-Standalone (NSA) architecture is a transitional approach that combines existing 4G LTE infrastructure with 5G capabilities. It allows devices to simultaneously connect to both 4G and 5G networks, providing enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) services with lower latency and increased capacity.
Control plane separation and a gradual transition to a 5G core network make it a cost-effective way for network operators to introduce 5G services while leveraging their existing infrastructure. However, NSA is an interim solution, and the industry is moving towards the more advanced Standalone (SA) 5G architecture for applications with stricter latency requirements.
What is the basic concept of the 5G non standalone NSA architecture?
The basic concept of 5G Non-Standalone (NSA) architecture is a transitional approach that leverages existing 4G LTE infrastructure to introduce 5G capabilities. It allows network operators to roll out 5G services more quickly by building upon their existing 4G networks.
Here are the key elements and concepts of 5G NSA architecture:
- Dual Connectivity: In NSA architecture, both 4G (LTE) and 5G radio access technologies are used simultaneously. This means that a user’s device can connect to both 4G and 5G cells simultaneously, which provides increased data speeds and lower latency.
- Control Plane Separation: The control plane (signaling) and user plane (data) are separated in the architecture. This enables greater flexibility and scalability, as the control plane can be managed by the 4G core network while the user plane can utilize the 5G infrastructure.
- Core Network Evolution: The 5G NSA architecture requires a 4G Evolved Packet Core (EPC) to manage the control plane, and a 5G Next Generation Core (NGC) can be introduced over time to handle 5G-specific services and features.
- Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB): NSA primarily focuses on providing enhanced mobile broadband services, which means faster internet speeds for data-intensive applications like video streaming, online gaming, and augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR).
- Low Latency and High Capacity: While not as optimized for ultra-low latency and massive IoT connectivity as the Standalone (SA) 5G architecture, NSA still offers lower latency and increased capacity compared to 4G, making it suitable for various applications and services.
- Smooth Transition: NSA is designed to enable a smooth transition from 4G to 5G, allowing network operators to gradually introduce 5G capabilities and services without requiring an immediate overhaul of their existing infrastructure.
- Deployment Cost Savings: Since NSA leverages existing 4G infrastructure, it can result in cost savings for network operators compared to building a completely standalone 5G network from scratch.
It’s important to note that NSA is an interim solution, and the industry is gradually moving towards the Standalone (SA) 5G architecture, where 5G core networks are independent of 4G. SA 5G offers more advanced features and is better suited for applications with stringent latency requirements, such as autonomous vehicles and industrial automation. However, NSA provides an essential bridge for a phased rollout of 5G services before SA networks are fully deployed.