Mobile Network Operators, Organizations Forge Ahead With 5G

Mobile operators, industry organizations, and vendors are making progress toward 5G with activities that include multivendor network trials, nationwide network plans, innovative approaches to partnerships, and standards development. 

Verizon recently selected network functions virtualization (NFV) platforms from Samsung and Cisco to support a multivendor 5G network trial, SDxCentral reported. The trial, taking place in Ann Arbor, Michigan, involves Cisco’s virtualized packet core and Samsung’s vRAN product, 5G radio base stations, and home routers. 

Ericsson also made out nicely with Verizon in a 5G test connected car test, performed at the Indy 500 Speedway, Light Reading reported. The operator and vendor demonstrated “6 Gbits/s download speeds on a test car equipped with four 28GHz radios spaced at 450-yard intervals around the track, using 64×64 antenna arrays.”

Meanwhile, T-Mobile’s ambitious plan to roll out a nationwide 5G network by 2020 is continuing to generate discussion. RCR Wireless News raised the question: is this a game-changer? That depends on whether or not the operator actually pulls it off–and exactly what they are able to put in place in such a short time.

“We believe a nationwide 5G network by 2020 or 2021 for a country the size of the U.S. is a significant event – even if the expected incremental speed advancements over the existing 4G network in this case will likely be modest initially.,” RCR concluded. “T-Mobile’s 600 MHz nationwide 5G network could also change the competitive dynamics and spur others to reassess not only the pace of the 5G deployment plans but also trigger carriers to reevaluate their 5G spectrum strategies.”

In Europe, Deutsche Telekom is finding it must look beyond traditional telco vendors to achieve its 5G deployment goals, Telecom TV reported in a recent video. For example, the operator is involved with Facebook TIP, as well as a “wide range of partners, including start-ups and new companies, using the best of open source and open software.”

That includes “working with other operators, such as SK Telecom and AT&T, along with researchers at Stanford University,” to “define a new standardised interface between software and hardware, with clear separation between user plane and control plane and a more flexible and open software architecture.”

On the standards front, 3GPP is moving forward with its accelerated timeline for the preliminary Non-Standalone 5G New Radio specification, slated for completion in time to 
enable “3GPP-based large-scale trials and deployments as early as 2019,” RCR Wireless News reported. This intermediate milestone in the 5G specification timeline was agreed upon in March, along with a study item focusing on 5G NR for operating in unlicensed spectrum. 
Finally, in Asia, the government in South Korea announced plans to complete deployment of a commercial 5G network during the second half of 2019, with an estimated penetration rate of 5% countrywide in 2020. And, China completed plans for a 30-site, 5G test field in Beijing, with six vendors (Huawei, ZTE, Ericsson, Nokia, Datang, and Saumsung) taking part in the trial.