Standards body 3GPP has agreed on a plan for Release 15, the first set of 5G specifications, with requirements for new kinds of radio to be agreed upon by September.
By December, work will begin on defining next generation architecture, with radio access network specifications to follow from March 2017.
Work on standalone and non-standalone radio networks will run concurrently. The former will have full control plane capability, whereas LTE will be used as the control plane anchor for the latter.
3GPP identified the now familiar use cases for 5G as low latency and high reliability networks.
Dino Flore, Chairman of 3GPP TSG RAN, said: "We now have a more concrete plan to guide the studies in the Working Groups and to put us in the position to address both short term and long term opportunities of 5G."
Erik Guttman, Chairman of 3GPP TSG SA, added: “3GPP continues to actively coordinate radio access NR and Next Generation system level work to standardise target services on schedule."
Meanwhile, Ovum has predicted that there will 24 million 5G subscriptions worldwide by 2021, although Europe will only account for around 10 percent of subscriptions.
North America and Asia will account for 40 percent each, with the Middle East and Africa divvying up the rest.
Mike Roberts, Ovum Practice Leader covering carrier strategy and technology, said: “The main use case for 5G through 2021 will be enhanced mobile broadband services, although fixed broadband services will also be supported, especially in the US.
"Over time 5G will support a host of use cases including Internet of Things and mission-critical communications, but Ovum does not believe those use cases will be supported by standardised 5G services through 2021.”