It’s a standalone summer, baby!

All four main U.S. carriers have now moved to pure cloud-native 5G. AT&T, Dish Wireless, T-Mobile USA and Verizon have all now started to move away from a 5G radio access network (RAN) running on a 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) control plane, a configuration known as non-standalone (NSA) 5G, to a solely 5G network, in which both the RAN and core elements are 5G.

This means that operators like Dish and T-Mobile have started to roll out services that rely on standalone 5G, such as Voice-over-New Radio (VoNR), which is sometimes called Voice-over-5G.

Meanwhile, operators such as T-Mobile and Verizon have started to launch enterprise-focused standalone trials of dynamic network slicing.

There’s still much more to come from standalone (SA) 5G services in 2024, and it’ll all be based on the pure 5G roots operators are starting to lay down in 2023.

1 AT&T

AT&T was the last major operator in the united states to confirm its move to standalone 5G.

“AT&T introduced 5G standalone [5G SA] commercially in late 2022 and we have several capable devices including the iPhone 13 family, iPhone 14 family, Samsung Galaxy S21 family, and Samsung Galaxy S22 family,” Jason Sikes, AVP device architecture for AT&T told Silverlinings. “We continue to work to add more.”

2 Dish Wireless

Dish Wireless is rolling out its greenfield 5G SA network across the U.S.

The operator was also the first major carrier in the world to host its 5G core network on the AWS public cloud.

This June, Dish announced that it had met its Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mandate to cover 70% of the U.S. population. Dish told Silverlinings that it will go on to tackle its next FCC mandate: To cover 75% of the population by June 2025. This will involve building out coverage in major metro areas like New York and Los Angeles.

The operator doesn’t yet have that many 5G devices that can use its network yet, though.

“Current Dish5G network compatible devices include the Motorola edge+ 2022 and 2023, Motorola G stylus 5G 2023, Samsung A23 and the Dish-made, Boost-exclusive Celero 5G+,” the spokesperson told Silverlings. It is expecting to offer the 5G iPhone before year’s end.

3 T-Mobile

T-Mobile claimed to be the first operator in the world to rollout a nationwide 5G SA network, launching its low-band 600 MHz network in August 2020. It followed that with a 2.4 GHz mid-band network in November 2022.

“Every device that we’ve carried since launching nationwide 5G back in 2020 supports our 5G SA network,” a T-Mobile spokesperson told Silverlinings, adding that customers upgrading to a current 5G device will enjoy SA in mid-band as well.

T-Mobile already offers 5G SA-specific services such as voice-over-5G, also known as Voice-over-New Radio (VoNR) to over 100 million people in the U.S., as well as boosting data transfer speeds with three-band carrier aggregation.

The operator is also starting to move into enterprise 5G SA services with a network slicing beta focused on critical video communications in August.

4 Verizon

Verizon said it started moving customer traffic onto its “new cloud-native, containerized design [5G] core” in October 2022.

“Verizon’s 5G core—and thus its 5G SA technology—is built on a cloud-based platform that Verizon created specifically for telecommunications workloads,” Verizon wrote in an April 2023 post on the cloudified core. The operator calls the program the Verizon Cloud Platform (VCP).

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