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3GPP 3GPP Specification Release Numbers

3GPP 3GPP Specification Release Numbers


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The 3GPP standards undergo continual change. To ensure that there is an organised release of new functionality, new releases of the standards occur at planned times.

For the new 3GPP releases, there is a schedule of releases which contained set introductions of new functionality and this represents the work of the various Technical Specifications Groups and Working Groups.

The first 3GPP releases were termed Phase 1 and Phase 2. After this the releases were given the year of the anticipated releases, but after Release 99, they reverted to specific release numbers. Release 4 was also known as 3GPP Release 2000.

3GPP Release topics

3GPP Phase 1 reflected the first introduction of GSM. Work on GSM was the main focus through until Release 98.

3GPP Release 99 was the first release of the UMTS / WCDMA standard, and work on this proceeded with the introduction of HSDPA, the HSUPA to form HSPA.

3GPP Release 8 saw the first introduction of LTE and this was steadily updated with enhancements of LTE with LTE-A and improvements to many areas.

Moving on, 3GPP Release 14, Release 15, and Release 16 will include the 5G technologies. Initially 3GPP Release 14 will include elements that build towards 5G, the next two including the actual specifications for it.

3GPP Release schedule and summary

The table below gives the approximate dates and some of the salient features of the different 3GPP Releases for their standards.


3GPP Releases
3GPP ReleaseRelease dateDetails
Phase 11992Basic GSM
Phase 21995GSM features including EFR Codec
Release 96Q1 1997GSM Updates, 14.4 kbps user data
Release 97Q1 1998GSM additional features, GPRS
Release 98Q1 1999GSM additional features, GPRS for PCS 1900, AMR, EDGE
Release 99Q1 20003G UMTS incorporating WCDMA radio access
Release 4Q2 2001UMTS all-IP Core Network
Release 5Q1 2002IMS and HSDPA
Release 6Q4 2004HSUPA, MBMS, IMS enhancements, Push to Talk over Cellular, operation with WLAN
Release 7Q4 2007Improvements in QoS & latency, VoIP, HSPA+, NFC integration, EDGE Evolution
Release 8Q4 2008Introduction of LTE, SAE, OFDMA, MIMO, Dual Cell HSDPA
Release 9Q4 2009WiMAX / LTE / UMTS interoperability, Dual Cell HSDPA with MIMO, Dual Cell HSUPA, LTE HeNB
Release 10Q1 2011LTE-Advanced, Backwards compatibility with Release 8 (LTE), Multi-Cell HSDPA
Release 11Q3 2012Heterogeneous networks (HetNet), Coordinated Multipoint (CoMP), In device Coexistence (IDC), Advanced IP interconnection of Services,
Release 12March 2015Enhanced Small Cells operation, Carrier Aggregation (2 uplink carriers, 3 downlink carriers, FDD/TDD carrier aggregation), MIMO (3D channel modelling, elevation beamforming, massive MIMO), MTC - UE Cat 0 introduced, D2D communication, eMBMS enhancements.
Release 13Q1 2016LTE-U / LTE-LAA, LTE-M, Elevation beamforming / Full Dimension MIMO, Indoor positioning, LTE-M Cat 1.4MHz & Cat 200kHz introduced
Release 14Mid 2017Elements on road to 5G
Release 15End 20185G Phase 1 specification
Release 1620205G Phase 2 specification
Release 17~Sept 2021

It should be noted that each release updates all the 3GPP standards - even the GSM standards are being updated in the various 3GPP Releases.

The 3GPP standards and specifications cover all aspects of the cellular / mobile communications systems from the radio access network to the network, billing, authentication and much more.

Each 3GPP Release will update very many elements, many of which will not hit the headlines.

Wireless & Wired Connectivity Topics:
Mobile Communications basics2G GSM3G UMTS4G LTE5GWiFiIEEE 802.15.4DECT cordless phonesNFC- Near Field CommunicationNetworking fundamentalsWhat is the CloudEthernetSerial dataUSBSigFoxLoRaVoIPSDNNFVSD-WAN
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Watch the video: LTE Architecture Part 3: LTE Specs and 3GPP Releases (May 2022).