5G NSA Introduces the Future of IoT Connectivity

5G NSA bridges the gap to faster IoT connectivity by using existing 4G networks with new 5G tech.

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The promise of 5G IoT connectivity focuses on higher speed data that powers exciting new applications. This vision depends on the roll-out of 5G infrastructure both in the radio access network and the core but building the 5G core is expensive and time-consuming. Rather than wait for full 5G capabilities to become available, 5G non-standalone – or 5G NSA – has been introduced so users can take advantage of some of the functionality of 5G sooner.

What Is 5G NSA (5G Non-Standalone)?

5G NSA, as the name suggests, doesn’t stand alone. Instead, it stands alongside the 4G evolved packet core infrastructure while utilizing 5G New Radio technology for the radio access network. 5G NSA is a transitional technology for bridging the gap between 4G and the full potential of 5G, which will be delivered by 5G standalone – or 5G SA. 5G NSA acts as a new and streamlined highway on- and off-ramp that connects to the existing 4G highway in the form of the core network.

5G NSA Meaning

Why Is 5G NSA Needed?

The main reason for the 5G NSA architecture to exist is that it can deliver many of the benefits of 5G IoT connectivity without having to wait for the complete 5G standalone infrastructure to be built out. These benefits include:

  • Faster data speeds: 5G NSA delivers a significant improvement in data transmission rates in comparison to 4G, allowing for faster connections that allow real-time communications for IoT and other applications.
  • Improved future-proofing: With 2G and 3G networks retiring, early adoption of 5G in the form of 5G NSA ensures the devices in an IoT deployment can have a long lifespan without the need for physical upgrades. Many newer 5G NSA devices are also SA-capable so device fleets will be ready when it becomes available.
  • Enhanced resilience: 5G NSA capability ensure the devices have access to one more radio network. For sensitive applications that need uninterrupted connectivity, this is a compelling benefit.

How Are IoT Organizations Using 5G NSA?

A wide range of use cases have emerged for 5G NSA meaning that it has become clearly understood. Telenor Connexion has been supporting customers with global IoT connectivity for their businesses.

For smart cities, 5G NSA can be used to link surveillance cameras and other cloud-connected devices that need to upload a lot of data in a short time, such as a 5G fixed wireless access router for Internet connectivity. 5G NSA provides value by enabling large numbers of connections with higher data throughput than 4G.

Patient outcomes in healthcare can be enhanced with 5G NSA as remote patient monitoring for chronic conditions can benefit from greater speeds. Connected medical devices can draw upon 5G NSA higher speeds to communicate more data and enable real-time analysis of device outputs. Finally, 5G NSA can support telehealth services that deliver improved patient care and enhance the accessibility of medical services.


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5G NSA vs 5G SA

5G NSA should not be compared directly with 5G SA. Don’t forget 5G SA benefits from using both the new on and off ramps and the new highway of 5G and therefore it has complete access to all the benefits of 5G. This means 5G SA is able to utilize entirely different network infrastructure that enables capabilities that the 4G core cannot. Network slicing capabilities plus greater security and the arrival of edge computing open up new use cases, some of which are enabled by the ability to tailor the network to the needs of specific use cases.

The 5G SA future will see a network slice to support an industrial robot’s movements across a factory site be set up with the high speed bandwidth needed to operate safely and interact in real-time with other machines. The high-speed communication across the RAN and the core to enable cloud-based analysis and automated operation are compelling advantages of 5G SA. Even so, there are no rules for international slicing and how to charge for it so there will be delay while these complexities are resolved.

Worth the Wait?

The challenge with 5G SA is that full implementation requires significantly larger investment and for offerings, such as autonomous or assisted vehicles to work safely, coverage will need to be ubiquitous. 5G SA will become widely available as networks are built but the investment required and time needed to upgrade core and access networks means there is a significant waiting time.

5G NSA offers a pathway to the 5G future that is cost effective, reliable and secure. This is essential as more and more enterprises introduce use cases that have high data requirements. 5G NSA introduces 5G attributes for the first time and allows industries to become familiar with them, ultimately building familiarity with what 5G can do for you.

This is why 5G NSA is already implemented by many operators, including Telenor, and starting to attract customers. It is a powerful and versatile technology that can deliver benefits today while simultaneously helping businesses get ready for the full 5G era when the technology becomes globally available.

To explore the broader landscape of IoT technologies, visit our page about IoT Technology.

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