21.9163GPPRelease 16Release descriptionTS
Release 16 can be seen as a set of independent improvements of the 5G System, introduced in Rel-15 and described in TR 21.915 . As such, several references are made in the present document to pre-Rel-16 Features and to 5G reference points and network functions.
Other Rel-16 enhancements are for Features that have been introduced several Releases ago, including those related to Mission Critical, or to Conversational services.
The main Rel-16 radio enhancements concern the 5G (NR) radio interface, but also the 4G (LTE) radio, and improving the cooperation between them. For the 5G radio, the end user bit rate has been increased by introducing several configurations of Carrier Aggregations and by adding 256QAM. Other radio enhancements include the NR-based access to unlicensed spectrum, and some enhancements in the fields of mobility and UE Power Saving. These radio enhancements are presented in section 19.
As for the system-wide features, presented in sections 5 to 18, the overall trend in Rel-16 is to make the 3GPP 5G System (5GS) a communication-enabling platform suitable for a wide range of industries (“verticals”), such as e.g. transportation (autonomous driving V2X, Railways, Maritime), automated factories, healthcare, public safety and many more. In this respect, the versatility and reliability of the 5GS has been further increased to make it industry-grade compatible, with enhancements to Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communications (URLLC), Network Slicing, Edge Computing, Cellular IoT (Internet of Things), Non-Public Networks, Positioning Services and LAN-type services. In addition, the use of 5G as an underlying communication network (i.e. to be used transparently by applications external to the network) has been enhanced, mostly under the work on "Northbound APIs". Besides all these industrial aspects, other Rel-16 enhancements cover the coexistence of 5G with non-3GPP systems, entertainment (e.g. streaming and media distribution) and network optimisations (e.g. user identity).