HomeTech News5G SA vs NSA: Difference Between Standalone and Non-standalone 5G Architecture

5G SA vs NSA: Difference Between Standalone and Non-standalone 5G Architecture

With the discharge of 5G, new phrases and buzzwords have entered our lexicon. Recently, we wrote an in depth explainer on what are mmWave and sub-6GHz 5G bands to make the idea simple to grasp for the overall populous. Apart from that, we compiled a listing of 5G bands supported in India and learn how to verify 5G bands in your cellphone in your reference. And on this article, we deliver you a simple explainer on SA and NSA deployment modes in 5G. We additionally examine 5G SA vs NSA to seek out the variations between these two architectures. On that observe, let’s not waste time and dive proper in.

Comparing 5G SA and NSA: Which is Better? (2022)

In this text, we examine SA and NSA 5G deployment modes and what each phrases imply for finish customers. You also can discover the variations between SA and NSA 5G structure. Expand the desk beneath and transfer to your required part.


What is SA 5G Architecture?

If you might be questioning what SA means in 5G, you’ve gotten come to the proper place. By its very definition, SA 5G stands for Standalone 5G, which implies it’s an end-to-end 5G community. To perceive how SA provides an entire 5G community, first, you should know the intermediaries in a community. In a cellular community, there’s a base station (additionally known as core), radio antennas, and an finish system (smartphone, tablets, and many others.).

In an SA 5G community, the bottom station, aka core, is solely constructed on the 5G specification, which is devised by the 3GPP (group that develops requirements for cellular telecommunication). The radio antennas are additionally primarily based on 5G specs, and lastly, the top units should additionally help the 5G NR bands.


In this ecosystem, all three items of apparatus are purely primarily based on the newest international 5G specs. There are no 4G/LTE or present legacy parts used on this infrastructure. This form of end-to-end 5G community is known as Standalone 5G. Here, not simply information however even voice calls (VoNR) shall be carried out over 5G NR radios, providing a superior expertise.

When we hear about ultra-low latency and unparalleled speeds that run into 10 to twenty gigabits per second (Gbps), the businesses are literally speaking about an SA 5G community. This form of pure, unfettered 5G community is extremely uncommon world wide, and solely a handful of telecom firms have deployed this infrastructure, because it’s prohibitively costly to deploy. We have mentioned this matter in better element beneath, however earlier than that, let’s discover out what’s NSA structure in 5G.

What is NSA 5G Architecture?

Now that you simply perceive a Standalone 5G community, let’s study NSA in 5G. NSA 5G means a Non-standalone 5G community, the place the core (base station) relies on 4G/ LTE infrastructure however makes use of radio antennas which can be primarily based on 5G. And in fact, as you would possibly be capable to guess, smartphones should have help for 5G to make use of this sort of 5G community. Here, aside from the 4G LTE core (also referred to as EPC or Evolved Packet Core), the whole lot relies on 5G specs.


In an NSA 5G radio entry community (RAN), you received’t get the much-touted 5G capabilities equivalent to near-zero latency and unparalleled pace, nevertheless it’s a cost-effective approach to deploy a 5G community throughout the globe. Telecom operators don’t must overhaul their base stations and might shortly allow 5G community providers utilizing the 4G EPC. In reality, most telecom firms are utilizing NSA to supply 5G providers to the lots to start with. Even Jio 5G and Airtel 5G deployments, that are prone to begin by August finish, shall be primarily based on 5G NSA infrastructure.

What is EPC Virtualization in 5G?

At the guts of the SA vs NSA comparability is the 5G core that the Standalone 5G community makes use of. However, telecom distributors equivalent to Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung, and many others. are providing a brand new approach by software program to improve the 4G EPC core to the 5G core with out changing the tools, changing an NSA 5G community to SA 5G at a fraction of the price. It’s known as EPC Virtualization or vEPC for brief.

It principally virtualizes the 4G core by software program to make it suitable with 5G structure. Through this technique, you get SA 5G advantages like community slicing, scalability, voice calls over 5G NR radios (VoNR), and extra. In the US, T-Mobile, in partnership with Cisco, is utilizing this know-how and has already deployed vEPC, changing 1000’s of 4G EPC cores to 5G cores.

If we discuss SA 5G deployment in India, Airtel CEO Gopal Vittal lately stated the corporate can simply transfer to 5G SA from 5G NSA with a software program improve, most definitely referring to 4G EPC virtualization. However, the corporate will stick with NSA 5G initially. Reliance Jio, alternatively, has been engaged on EPC virtualization for a couple of years now. It acquired Radisys, a US-based firm again in 2018, that has experience in vEPC. The indigenous 5G answer that Jio retains on speaking about is definitely vEPC in motion. The firm will most definitely use its 700MHz airwave to supply SA 5G providers.

To sum up, within the comparability between two modes — SA vs NSA 5G, EPC virtualization is making an enormous contribution in transitioning 4G/ LTE EPC core to 5G core. This know-how is enabling telecom firms to supply quicker speeds with out the prices of speaking down older 4G tools and putting in new 5G ones as an alternative.

SA vs NSA 5G: What’s the Difference?

As we realized above, the first distinction between SA and NSA 5G networks is that each one parts in an SA 5G infrastructure are purely primarily based on 5G specs. Whereas, in an NSA 5G structure, the core relies on 4G/ LTE tools (upgraded to 5G utilizing EPC) and radio cells and finish units are developed on the 5G commonplace.

As telecom operators nonetheless use their present legacy base stations to chop prices, you don’t get ultra-low latency and better gigabit speeds in an NSA 5G community. Apart from that, the SA 5G community consumes much less vitality and provides telcos extra capability compared to NSA 5G community. To offer you an actual quantity, the SA 5G community can deal with large communication and might join greater than 1 million units at a time, which is mind-boggling.

Having stated that, the explanation SA 5G will not be being deployed initially is that it’s an enormous funding for telecom operators. To exchange the legacy 4G/ LTE EPC, the businesses won’t simply want cash, but additionally time to implement the 5G core. So to make 5G deployment fast and cost-effective, telcos are choosing the NSA 5G community. Do observe that cellular community operators within the US and Europe even have plans to deploy the true SA 5G core by the finish of 2023, so that’s excellent news.

Benefits of SA 5G Over NSA 5G

For finish customers, there are broadly 5 advantages whereas utilizing 5G on an SA infrastructure over NSA:

  • You get an ultra-low and dependable latency, going as little as 5ms or much less on an SA 5G community. This needs to be useful whereas gaming on the cloud, streaming, and extra. And within the medical discipline, it could facilitate distant robotic surgical procedure.
  • Apart from that, SA 5G provides much better pace than NSA 5G. It can theoretically obtain a obtain pace of 10 to twenty Gbps. So, the insane claims of having the ability to obtain a 1GB film in 5 seconds or so would possibly really come true.
  • SA 5G community can scale massively and might deal with greater than 1 million units at a time.
  • On an SA 5G community, you’ll get a greater voice calling expertise with VoNR (Voice over New Radio).
  • According to IEEE, SA 5G consumes much less energy than NSA 5G and comes with a bunch of energy-saving options.

Benefits of NSA 5G Over SA 5G

If we discuss NSA 5G advantages over SA 5G, there are mainly 4 factors that you need to bear in mind. They are as beneath:

  • As NSA 5G makes use of the prevailing 4G core, for telecom operators it’s a fast and cost-effective approach to supply a 5G community.
  • In the absence of VoNR, NSA 5G can supply voice calls over LTE utilizing the 4G core.
  • While nowhere near SA 5G, the obtain pace is respectable on an NSA 5G community, particularly when in comparison with 4G/LTE. You can get speeds as much as 1 Gbps, which is kind of spectacular.
  • With DSS (Dynamic Spectrum Sharing), 4G and 5G bands can concurrently share their spectrums to supply a greater expertise.

SA vs NSA 5G: Which is Better?

Finally, coming to the query – which one is best: SA or NSA 5G? Well, as we went by the explainer, it’s clear that SA 5G is the true 5G community, the place all of the parts are primarily based on the worldwide 5G specs. However, like all applied sciences, the transition to a brand new commonplace takes time, so NSA 5G is filling the hole in the meantime to deliver 5G providers, albeit with slower speeds, to the lots.

In a couple of years, telecom operators will definitely transfer to an SA 5G infrastructure both by upgrading the {hardware} or virtualizing the EPC. SA 5G provides a number of advantages like large scalability and decrease energy consumption so telcos will certainly take this into consideration. In the meantime, we must make do with NSA 5G, which frankly, isn’t so unhealthy.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is NSA mode in 5G?

NSA mode in 5G means a community infrastructure the place the bottom station relies on a 4G core, however the radio antennas and smartphones are constructed on 5G specs.

What units help 5G SA?

5G SA has nothing to do with the patron’s units and help. It’s a community deployment technique chosen by telecom operators. Hence, in case your cellphone helps 5G, it could make the most of the 5G SA community as effectively.

Is 5G NSA quicker than 5G SA?

NSA 5G will not be quicker than 5G SA. As defined on this information, NSA 5G is constructed on a Non-standalone 5G community the place the bottom station nonetheless makes use of the 4G core. Hence, this reduces the pace considerably compared to a pure 5G SA community, which makes use of the 5G core.

Is Verizon 5G SA or NSA?

Verizon has not but deployed 5G SA within the US. However, the corporate says it’s planning to launch the 5G SA core by the top of 2022.

Standalone vs Non-Standalone 5G: Explained

So that was the whole lot about SA and NSA 5G structure and what are the variations between the 2 modes. Initially, it’s good to know that telecom operators are utilizing NSA structure to shortly construct and deploy a 5G community. But shifting ahead, we hope telecom giants make investments and improve the 4G EPC to 5G core to allow SA 5G and ship true gigabit speeds. In addition to the worldwide 5G requirements, India’s telecom firms may need to help the 5Gi commonplace as effectively, so head to our explainer to study what it’s. And to take a look at the listing of 5G bands within the US, observe our linked article. Finally, when you have any questions, tell us within the remark part beneath.



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