What is Standalone 5G?

What is SA 5G or Standalone 5G?

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- everything RF

Feb 24, 2021

Standalone (SA) 5G is the model of deployment of 5G where the services are provided through an end-to-end 5G network. The other mode is Non Standalone (NSA), where the services are provided by a mix of older technologies (LTE/4G) and 5G. The SA mode of deployment ensures that operators can deliver the very best performance promised by the introduction of 5G. It brings high-speed data, ultra-low latency along with a host of improvements that make 5G a revolutionary technology.

Standalone 5G Architecture

Benefits of Standalone 5G

In Standalone SA 5G mode, both the user-end (UE)  as well as the control plane utilize 5G specific infrastructure. The 5G NR base stations form part of a radio network that works alongside a cloud-native 5G Core network. It provides simplified RAN and device architecture and introduces the Open RAN architecture. Click here for more on Open RAN.

Since the entire network architecture is 5G specific, the SA mode of deployment is also designed to use the FR2 5G spectrum. Frequency Range 2 (FR2), also called mmWave, are frequencies higher than 24 GHz. The use of these high frequency bands results in data rates that are higher than 1 Gbps and ultra-low latency. Click here to know more about latency in 5G.

These benefits make 5G viable for a wider range of use cases for new devices. Thanks to network evolution, we are entering a new era of ultra-fast connectivity, the most rapid response times ever, and a whole host of opportunities for new solutions and services. The added speed and reliability make 5G suitable for critical applications such as autonomous vehicles, smart factories, IIoT, etc. Click here to know more.


There is no doubt that the Standalone 5G mode delivers performance that has never been seen before. However, it comes at a cost! Implementing SA 5G means that the entire network must be upgraded which requires huge financial expenditure, not to mention the time and strategic planning required to create a functional Standalone 5G network.

In the initial deployment of 5G, operators around the world usually start out by using Non-Standalone (NSA) mode of deployment for a quicker rollout. Both SA and NSA 5G have their own advantages and one is not worse than the other, but it rather depends on the requirement to make the most of either of the deployment modes.

Click here for more on NSA 5G.

Click here to see our article comparing SA and NSA 5G.