The 5G Standard

20 Years – a promising start

Dec 12, 2018

December 12, 2018

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the creation of 3GPP, delegates have attended a social event at the close of business on day 3 of the 82nd Plenary meetings, in Sorrento this week.

Back in 2008, we celebrated ten years that had built on GSM’s historic Worldwide1 success and evolved it to a new 3rd Generation - fit for mobile broadband. By that time we had also started on the path to deliver LTE specifications, which - over the next ten years - would become the fastest growing mobile technology of our time, with LTE-Advanced and LTE-Advanced Pro established as the World standard for 4G.

There is a great deal of pride here this week that 20 years has been clocked-up by 3GPP, but the greatest satisfaction is that with the work plan for 5G the project is well placed to remain relevant for the foreseeable future. After 20 years of existence, that is an achievement worth celebrating. 

Images from this week’s meetings in Sorrento: 

 RAN room 1200px  SA room 1200px
 CT room tsg82 1200px  chairs tsg82 01 1200px 02

Long service

Kevin Holley – one of the most productive contributors over ETSI SMG and 3GPP’s history – organised two photo opportunities for those that had registered for the first 3GPP TSG meetings in Sophia Antipolis in December 1998 and were also registered for the #82 meeting in Sorrento:

 oldies tsg82 20yrs 01  oldies tsg82 20yrs 02a

More images


stamp text 

 sa2 coin image
 tta coin image

Further reading

The following information is intended to provide the reader with some background information on how the 3rd Generation PP was brought about and how the Partners aligned to make it a success.

Planning for a new Partnership Project (1998)

Source: “The creation of 3GPP and its achievements” , Karl Heinz Rosenbrock, 2007

1 In in the late 1990s ETSI was considering how to make Technical Specifications for a 3rd Generation Mobile System globally applicable and based on evolved GSM networks.

A study group was set up to measure the task: The ‘ETSI UMTS Globalization Group (UGG)’ coordinated the dialogue with other partners around the World. The Global Standards Collaboration (GSC), Global RAdio STandardization group (RAST), Members of the ETSI TC SMG and ANSI T1P1 (USA) GSM communities, RITT in China, ARIB and TCC in Japan, TTA in Korea, the GSMA, UMTS Forum and the ICT related departments of European Commission…were all a part of the UGG discussions which lead to the approval of the ‘3GPP Description’ the ‘3GPP Agreement’ and the ‘3GPP Working Procedures’ at an Extra-ordinary ETSI GA in September 1998.

The ETSI GA had to decide on the scope and the structure of the Partnership Project.

Four votes were needed:

  • Vote 1. On the creation of a 3GPP (92,62% in favour).
  • Vote 2. Whether 3GPP includes UTRA - W-CDMA in FDD mode and TD-CDMA in TDD mode (95,9% in favour).
  • Vote 3. Whether 3GPP includes GSM core network evolution towards 3G (Failed initial vote with only 63,4%).

A 4th vote was needed to tie down the terms of reference of 3GPP and to set up a relationship that would allow ETSI to evolve GSM systems in the same place, but for European GSM features to be maintained in the ETSI SMG Committee.

  • Vote 4. 94,5% were in favour of this last proposal for the creation of a Partnership Project - a partnership between ETSI and recognized SDOs and other partners – to develop specifications for the initial phase of a complete 3G mobile system based on UTRAN and evolved GSM core network (G-UMTS). 

The start of work

Source: TSG Report#1

Technical Specification Groups (TSG); Meeting Report (TSG#1, 7-8 December 1998) presented the results of the ARIB/ETSI/T1/TTC/TTA meeting, 2nd - 4th December, Copenhagen, where the 3rd Generation Project agreement was introduced and signed on the 4th December by the 5 Partners.

The UMTS Forum and the GSMMoU (GSMA) were both already on-board and ready to sign up to the agreement (as MRPs) in the near future.

The report contains full details of how the Technical Specification Groups and the working methods were established... Download it here.  


Contact for this article: Kevin FLYNN, Marketing and Communications Officer, 3GPP