Independent networking will become the main theme of the future when 5G network upgrades are in progress
NSA is "one network for multiple purposes", and SA is "private network dedicated".
The NSA mode network is like an urban road, which runs both cars and bicycles, while the independently constructed SA mode network is similar to a highway and runs 5G signals.
Since the development of 5G technology, everyone is no stranger to the two networking methods of 5G. Although my country's 5G construction continues to run at new speeds and new heights, the recent "China Unicom Telecom's first batch of 5G users were abandoned" has been on Weibo. Looking at it, everyone is still paying attention to the independent networking (SA) and non-independent networking (NSA) two 5G networking methods, and there are still some people who understand my country's 5G construction and business operation principles.
One is "one network for multiple uses" and the other is "private network dedicated"
The main difference between SA and NSA is whether it is necessary to rely on the existing 4G network for 5G network deployment, which reflects the combination of base stations and core networks.
The difference can also be seen from their Chinese interpretations. NSA means "one network for multiple purposes", and SA means "private network dedicated".
In the 5G NSA networking mode, 4G and 5G share the core network, and 5G base stations can be added directly to 4G base stations to quickly achieve 5G network coverage.
As the core network of the 5G standard, the signaling format, process, and core network architecture of the SA core network are brand new.
Simply put, the NSA mode network is like an urban road, which runs both cars and bicycles, while the independently constructed SA mode network is similar to a highway and runs 5G signals.
This is why the industry sees NSA as a transitional solution for 5G.
The two networking options of 5G involve differences in a series of 5G performance indicators, such as network delay, uplink bandwidth, network flexibility, and service reliability.
In contrast, the NSA model is more conducive to the maximum utilization of resources, both for users and operators, time cost and resource input are less.
The SA mode is more able to take advantage of the three major technical advantages of 5G-enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), massive machine connections (mMTC) and low latency and high reliability (URLLC), and on this basis supports the realization of more diverse and diverse scenarios Services, including network slicing, ultra-low-latency links, mass links, and many other capabilities that cannot be provided by NSA models.
As Miao Wei, the former minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said, to truly reflect 5G performance, it is necessary to rely on the SA mode 5G network instead of the NSA mode based on the 4G core network.
Wu Hequan, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, once said frankly that he was the first to start large-scale SA construction in the world. In addition to the test of product maturity and stability, large-scale networking technologies such as SDN, NFV, SRv6, network slicing, and SD-WAN have yet to be verified.
SA mode is the ultimate solution for 5G networking
In the initial stage of 5G network construction, SA and NSA modes are mixed and parallel, but almost all countries regard SA mode as the ultimate solution for 5G networking, and my country is no exception.
According to Chen Zhigang, an expert in the communications industry, in December 2017, the 5G NSA core standards were frozen, which caused widespread concern around the world, which triggered long-term discussions on 5G networking methods inside and outside the industry.
As early as before the commercial launch of 5G, the debate on whether my country's 5G network deployment should adopt the SA mode or the gradual transition through the NSA mode has been unbroken.
The reason why most operators choose to adopt the NSA solution as a transition based on the 4G core network is one of the well-known reasons for the large investment in 5G construction.
Communications industry analyst Bai Song said: “Saving investment is one aspect, and more importantly, from the experience of 3G and 4G, first having network infrastructure will greatly reduce the transition cost in the later stage, which is China’s pioneering 5G technology. Explore and accumulate experience."
However, the NSA model is like a "half 5G standard", after all, it cannot fully utilize the technical advantages of the 5G network.
In 2018, 5G independent networking standards were officially frozen, and my country’s telecom operators began to announce plans for independent networking.
On March 24, 2020, the “Notice on Promoting the Accelerated Development of 5G” issued by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology stated that “support basic telecom companies to target 5G independent networking (SA), control the scale of non-independent networking (NSA), and accelerate Promote network construction in major cities and gradually extend coverage to key counties and towns where conditions permit."
Bai Song said: “Although the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has already made it clear that SA is the main development direction of my country’s 5G in the future, and various telecom operators are also actively planning, with the notice as a sign, all new base stations built by operators will be SA base stations. 2020 can be regarded as It is the first year of my country's 5G SA new infrastructure construction and development."
In 2019, the 5G network built in my country is basically a non-independent network.
In November 2020, China Telecom announced at Tianyi Exhibition that it will be the world's first commercial 5G SA network, covering more than 300 cities across the country.
Not long ago, China Mobile stated that it has built the world's largest 5G SA commercial network covering 31 provinces and cities in my country and 337 cities. SA terminals will be fully popularized in 2021.
The growth of new things always goes through a process from small to large, from imperfect to more complete, and the same is true for 5G construction.
Operators will not shut down the NSA network in the short term
Although SA mode networking is already the main theme of 5G construction, a large number of 4G base stations will continue to exist.
Judging from the responses of China Telecom and China Unicom, there is no such thing as shutting down the 5G NSA network.
Bai Song said: "The transition from non-independent networking to independent networking is a long process, and there will be no one-size-fits-all direct network disconnection."
Senior telecom industry consultant Ma Jihua said that whether it is operators or users, early adopters always pay a price.
On the day when technology will eventually become obsolete and replaced, builders and users cannot stay at a certain stage forever. This is a typical feature of intergenerational progress in mobile communications. It is only a matter of time. PHS, 2G, and 3G mobile phones are all Goed through the same process.
"Operators abandon the original NSA users are not accurate." Ma Jihua emphasized that the first batch of 5G mobile phones that only support NSA can still be used. It does not rule out the possibility that future operators will be forced to remove or upgrade NSA under the pressure of base station resources and operating costs. But this is also after the life cycle of the first batch of 5G mobile phones.
Of course, whether it is a mobile phone manufacturer or an operator, it should inform users of the real situation and allow users to make a rational choice.
"Technology develops with each passing day, the iteration speed is getting faster and faster, and the product life cycle is getting shorter and shorter. Users need to make reasonable choices." Ma Jihua said.
"Operators need to be more careful and detailed in user notification, and mobile phone manufacturers should also avoid exaggerating and misleading product promotion." Bai Song said, "Operators and manufacturers should pay more attention to the reasonable demands of those 5G NSA end users. They Many of them are the earliest supporters of 5G."
Ke Ruiwen, chairman of China Telecom, pointed out that we must clearly realize that 5G is still in the early stage of development, and it requires the joint efforts of all sectors of the industry to fully meet customer expectations and further mature.
Ke Ruiwen said: "Especially in terms of increasing the terminal SA support rate, the industrialization of SA industry modules, the collaborative creation of SA universal applications, and the exploration and summary of 5G-based industrial Internet solutions, it is urgent for all industry partners to increase investment and accelerate innovation. pace."
SA/NSA dual mode is already standard for 5G terminals
Non-independent networking will eventually evolve to independent networking, but no one can accurately predict how fast this process will be.
What is clearly known is that even in the SA mode 5G network, it does not mean that the early NSA 5G mobile phones cannot be used.
At the end of 2019, the 5G public opinion field once staged a big debate over whether mobile phones that only support NSA networking are real 5G mobile phones.
At that time, most 5G mobile phones only supported NSA, and the earliest dual-mode mobile phones compatible with NSA and SA came from Huawei.
At that stage, my country's telecom operators issued a reminder to 5G experience users that currently only single-mode 5G mobile phones that support NSA, where there are only SA mode networks, will not be able to connect to 5G networks.
At present, the only mobile phones that support NSA networking in China are the 7 models released in the second half of 2019. Everyone's disputes are focused on the fate of the early batch of NSA single-mode phones under the SA mode network.
The reporter learned from China Telecom that even if the terminal only supports the NSA mode and the base station is in the SA mode, users do not have to panic. Although they cannot access 5G, they can use the 4G network.
However, mobile phones that only support NSA mode will eventually withdraw from the stage of history. China Unicom’s recently released "China Unicom 5G Terminal White Paper Fourth Edition (2021)" clearly stated that 5G terminals should support SA/NSA dual mode.
With the gradual improvement of SA mode network construction and operation, the plans of various telecom operators for terminals will become more and more clear. China Mobile clearly stated that one of the important tasks in 2021 is to promote the matching of 5G end networks and transfer 5G users to 5G. SA network traction.