5G NSA, as the name suggests, is a 5G service that does not ‘stand alone’ but is built over an existing 4G network , so involves the use of a shared core (4G ePC or 5GC) to connect both the 4G (LTE) and 5G (NR) radio networks.
While 5G SA, on the other hand, allows completely independent operation of a 5G service without any interaction with an existing 4G core , and relies completely on a new 5G Core
For 5G Sharing, the mode of 5G deployment either NSA or SA is a key design decision for a shared network and of course most operators are using 5G NSA approach, as it allows having a more extensive coverage thanks to the dual connectivy features and also given the fact that it can be deployed more rapidly than 5G SA.
Today Different possible modes of network sharing include the following :
- MORAN (Multi-Operator Radio Access Network) requires that operators have their own 2G, 3G or LTE License and share RAN infrastructure in a specific geographical area. The operators use their own dedicated spectrum in the shared area and transmit their own PLMN
- MOCN (Multi-operator core network ) goes a step further; operators run their network on a common RAN and a shared pool of spectrum
However, in the context of active sharing, 5G NSA poses a major challenge. In fact, launching 5G NSA with active sharing requires operators to use the same vendor in their 4G and 5G RAN as we see in the figure below :
As we know 3GPP has standardised the X2 interface but the implementation is vendor proprietary. Consequently the 5G NR Vendor needs at least one anchor LTE layer for the X2 interface to thats need to be for the same RAN vendor established for NSA Option 3x
If operators would like to have 5G only RAN Sharing and enodeb and gnodeb are not within the same RAN vendor, the 5G NSA RAN Sharing cannot be implemented and ony 5G SA RAN Sharing can be done.
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