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Networks & Service Platforms

4G to 5G - NSA to SA Transition Planning

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Report Summary:

5G Core Non-Standalone (NSA) is beginning to be deployed today by many service providers but evolution to the new 5G Standalone (SA) Core with Service Based Architecture (SBA) and additional 5G services - including dynamic Network Slicing and seamless Fixed Mobile Access to common IMS – now depends on 3GPP Release 16. Release 16 completes the 5G specifications for ITU IMT-2020 and is now expected around mid-2020

This report describes the options for 5G Core NSA and SA interworking and their likely timing.

Migration from 4G to 5G with NSA and SA services and database capabilities will be complex and protracted. It is therefore very important that Service Providers focus on moving as fast as possible to a ‘Cloud Native’ approach that leads to high performance low cost service delivery by 2023

This report and the related webinar were sponsored by HPE and Intel.

Register here to replay the associated Webinar

Learn more about how HPE is accelerating digital service provider transformation at how Intel is helping enterprises and communication service providers with cloud-optimized and 5G-ready platforms at

Table of Contents

Migrating from 4G to 5G - Transition Planning

  • Timing of Transition – Standards and Market Adoption
  • 4G to 5G transition will take many years
  • Alternate 4G/LTE to 5G Core Migration Paths
  • Operator Approaches to 5G Migration
  • Service Provider face significant challenges in planning migration to 5G   
  • Interworking Mechanisms for 5G Migration
  • 4G to 5G Migration – Interworking and Integration Challenges
  1. Interworking MME and AMF
  2. Interworking HSS and UDM.
  3. Leveraging 5G SDE/Data Sharing Design to deliver additional capabilities with HSS Interworking
  4. Integrating Evolved Rel-16 Service Based Architecture enables Converged Services with Legacy Access

5G Rollout will be an Evolution

  • 5G brings Capacity, Throughput and very Low Latency to Wireless Communications
    • 5G will not support everything in the first phase of deployments
  • 5G ushers in an era of Virtualized Processing and Dynamic Resource Allocation


  • Choose a Cost Effective Path through the Migration Options – Most Direct Path may actually be least costly and less risky
  • Guidelines for Service Providers on how to handle migration
  • 5G Standalone Trials are starting – Commercial services may start in Late 2020 or early 2021


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