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Standalone vs Non-Standalone 5G network

When discussing network connectivity, we often talk to our clients about 5G Standalone vs Non-Standalone networks. What does it mean? What is the difference between these two kinds of network?

The core network is what makes the biggest difference between 5G Standalone (SA) and Non-Standalone (NSA). Specifically, 5G NSA involves laying the 5G radio access network (RAN) over an existing 4G LTE network, whereas 5G SA requires a new 5G packet core network.

Non-Standalone (NSA) 5G network

Non-Standalone 5G networks are the first version of a 5G network, built on an existing 4G core network infrastructure. A higher data transfer speed has been supplied to customers by laying the 5G RAN and its New Radio (NR) interface on top of a 4G LTE network. As a result, the 5G radio can’t work on its own, and it depends on the 4G LTE macro cell base station for the control plane signalling (coverage), while the 5G NR is used to supply the higher data rate/transfer.

Why this has been done? To accelerate the deployment of their 5G networks, Network operators have utilised their existing 4G network infrastructure to deploy to end users a 5G network in an easier and faster way, with a lower investment. As a result, 5G service have been supplied to users while still working on resolving issues on the 5G RAN.

However, all operators are aware that the deployment of a NSA network is only a temporary solution and that the implementation of a 5G SA network will eventually happen.

Stand Alone (SA) 5G network

As its name suggests, the SA 5G network stands on its own, without the support of any existing infrastructure. The SA 5G network is deployed on a dedicated 5G equipment and network functionalities. The New Radio 5G Network is linked to core network functions that are cloud native and service based. 

The cloud-native principles can be deployed following three different models: 

  1. Private Cloud: the network’s core functions are deployed on-premises through and internal private cloud;
  2. Public Cloud: the network is deployed on a public cloud using a cloud service provider (CSP); 
  3. Hybrid Cloud: this approach uses a combination of on-premises and public cloud data centre.


What is the 5G SA used for?

The fasted data rate allows for multiple applications, in specific it can be split into three groups: 

  • mMTC
  • emBB
  • Critical IoT

mMTC stands for Massive machine-type communication: it’s the ability to connect millions of devices to support applications such as precision farming, fleet management and so on. 

emBB or Enhanced Mobile Broadband is the ability to connect to high speed on a mobile environment. 

In the Critical IoT (Internet of Things), the high data rate and low latency allow for improvements in the Critical IoT sector and applications such as automated guided vehicles (AGVs) to be used in logistics and warehousing and also a big boost for industrial automation. 


RugGear and 5G networks

RugGear focus on mission-critical communication makes sure that our devices can fulfil all requirements for both SA and NSA and support the most requested 5G bands for blue lights and first responders. Our technology allows the devices to switch not only to the strongest band but also to the strongest network available, to guarantee seamless communication at all times. Do you want to find out more about our products and how we can help your team? 

Get in touch.