What is Non-Standalone 5G?

What is NSA 5G or Non-Standalone 5G?

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- everything RF

Feb 24, 2021

Non-Standalone (NSA) 5G is the model of deployment where 5G services are provided without an end-to-end 5G network. This means that the network will rely on some previous generation (4G LTE) infrastructure. The NSA model of deployment of 5G brings along some benefits and has been used extensively by telecom operators around the world for the initial deployment of 5G networks.

In the NSA model of 5G deployment, User End (UE) equipment utilizes the 5G radio infrastructure while the control functions such as signalling use the existing 4G LTE core network.

Non-Standalone 5G Architecture

Benefits of Non-standalone 5G

Non-standalone 5G has a few advantages over standalone (SA) 5G. NSA 5G is better for operators in their initial stage of 5G deployment. This is because they can use existing 4G infrastructure for deployment and thus reduces the time required for the network to be operational. This allows the telecom operators to jump start their 5G networks and provide 5G services much quicker than if they used the SA approach.

The utilization of existing infrastructure also results in reduced cost of network deployment. It reduces the burden on operators who can, in turn, focus on providing good quality of service to the customers.


As the saying goes, everything comes at a price, the benefits of Non-standalone 5G bears a cost. With NSA 5G, operators make some compromises because the lack of an end-to-end 5G network has its limitations. The benefits of reduced time of deployment and cost-effectiveness come at the cost of network performance. Although NSA 5G provides a significant improvement over 4G LTE, this mode of deployment cannot deliver the very best of 5G (such as high-speed internet, low latency, etc.).

In applications that require a large number of nodes to be connected on the same network with minimum latency, for instance smart factories, the NSA mode of deployment will not be the preferred one.

Click here to see the difference between 5G SA and NSA Modes.

Click here to know more about 5G latency.