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The First 5G Specification Has Been Approved

The quest to make 5G a reality has just taken a very important step forward.

Members of the 3GPP, the organization that makes cellular standards that carriers and equipment makers around the world need to follow, have ratified a new 5G specification at its meeting in Lisbon, Portugal.

Credit: 3GPP

(Image credit: 3GPP)

The specification provides a template for what companies planning to operate in the 5G market need to follow. It's the first 5G specification to be ratified. Fierce Wireless earlier reported on the ratification.

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According to the 3GPP, it will release the standards it's ratified this week. Once they're released, vendors, including Ericsson, Qualcomm, and others, will be able to start making equipment that will ultimately power 5G networks. According to Fierce Wireless, the specifications also ensure that 5G will run across a wide swath of spectrum, ranging from 600MHz to 700MHz through to 50GHz. 

To be clear, this isn't the end of work on 5G. As Fierce Wireless notes, 3GPP still needs to handle a wide variety of other 5G-related topics, including nonorthogonal multiple access, unlicensed spectrum concerns, and more.

Still, this is a major step forward. Equipment makers and carriers have been working off standards that they believe could become reality; they have not actually had some foundation on which they could build their products. Now that the 3GPP has approved the specifications, equipment makers can deliver products to carriers, carriers can start building out their plans in a more robust way, and 5G will officially start its trek to getting to consumers.

But if you're hoping to have ubiquitous 5G next year, you'll be out of luck. While carriers like Verizon and AT&T have committed to testing 5G in 2018, it's still going to take more time for the technology to officially launch and earn its place as a replacement for 4G. 

Don Reisinger is a communications strategist, consultant, and copywriter who has also written for many leading technology and business publications including CNET, Fortune Magazine and The New York Times, as well as Tom's Guide.