3GPP Specifications - Releases (and phases and stages)

To meet new market requirements, 3GPP specifications are continually being enhanced with new features. In order to provide developers with a stable platform for implementation while at the same time allowing the addition of new features, the 3GPP uses a system of parallel "releases", all of which are listed in the table below.

Release 4.  At the current time (September 2001), the latest complete set of 3GPP specifications is called "Release 4" (Rel-4). Rel-4 specification were "frozen" in March 2001. "Frozen" means that since that date, revisions have only in the case where a correction is needed (i.e. new features are no longer added). All Rel-4 specifications have a version number of the form "4.x.y".

Release 5.  In those specifications where the need for a new feature has been found after the freeze date, a new release of the specification is created. Currently, new features are being incorporated into "Release 5" (Rel-5). It is expected that Rel-5 will be frozen in December 2001. Until it is frozen, rel-5 will not form a complete set of specifications. New features not ready in time for rel-5 will be included in the following release, rel-6. All Rel-5 specifications have a version number of the form "5.x.y".

Earlier release and phases.  During the elaboration of GSM and 3GPP specifications over the last decade, different terminologies have been used to describe the above process. The following table identifies those terms: 

Full name of "release" Abbreviated Name Version number "Freeze" Date
(indicative only)
Release 6 (GSM and 3G) Rel-6 6.x.y not yet scheduled
Release 5 (GSM and 3G) Rel-5 5.x.y scheduled December 2001
Release 4 (GSM and 3G) Rel-4 4.x.y March 2001
Release 1999 (3G) R99 3.x.y March 2000
GSM Phase 2+ (release 2000) R00 9.x.y see note1 below
GSM Phase 2+ (release 1999) R99 8.x.y March 2000
GSM Phase 2+ (release 1998) R98 7.x.y early 1999
GSM Phase 2+ (release 1997) R97 6.x.y early 1998
GSM Phase 2+ (release 1996) R96 5.x.y early 1997
GSM Phase 2 PH2 4.x.y 1995
GSM Phase 1 PH1 3.x.y 1992

Note 1: The term "Release 2000" was used only temporarily and was eventually replaced by the term "Release 4"

Note 2: Specifications with a version number of 0.x.y, 1.x.y or 2.x.y indicates that it is a new specification that has not yet been approved. The anticipated release is normally shown on the cover of the document.

Further information.  Further information about 3GPP releases, phases and other related information can be found in a report called TR 21.900 "Technical Specification Group working methods". See the  specifications and reports download page.