Vendors and key mobile operators across Europe are already carrying out trials of 5G technology ahead of the expected standardization and commercial launch, which is expected to occur at a very limited scale in 2018.
In France, local telecommunications provider Orange and Ericsson recently said they hit peak rates of more than 10 Gbps as part of a trial using components of 5G network technology.
The trial was part of a partnership between the two companies, which was announced in October 2016. This partnership is said to focus on enabling 5G technology building blocks, proof of concepts and pilots across Europe.
The collaboration also covers network evolution, including energy and cost efficiencies, and the use of software-defined networking and network functions virtualization technologies. Orange said it aims to focus on multi-gigabit networks across suburban and rural environments, as well as internet of things-focused networks and large mobile coverage solutions.
Also, Italian mobile operator TIM said it carried out live tests of virtual radio access network technology. The architecture was initially tested at an innovation laboratory in Turin, and also has been recently tested in the town of Saluzzo. The technology is said to take advantage of LTE-Advanced functionalities by coordinating signals from various radio base station using a centralized and virtualized infrastructure.
The test included the installation of a virtual server in Turin that was more than 60 kilometers away from the Saluzzo antennas, which demonstrated its ability to coordinate radio base stations without affecting connection and performance using techniques based on Ethernet fronthaul. TIM said Turin will be the first city in Italy to experience the telco’s next-generation network and that it expects to have 3,000 customers connected to a trial 5G system in the city by the end of 2018.
In Spain, the country’s largest telco Telefónica signed development agreements with Chinese vendors ZTE and Huawei.
In 2016, the Spanish telco inked a memorandum of understanding with ZTE for the development of 5G and the transition from 4G to next generation network technology. The agreement will enable more opportunities for cooperation across different industries in areas such as advanced wireless communications, “internet of things,” network virtualization architectures and cloud.
Telefonica also signed a NG-RAN joint innovation agreement with Huawei, which covers CloudRAN, 5G Radio User Centric No Cell, 5G Core Re-Architect and Massive MIMO innovation projects, aiming to improve the spectrum efficiency and build a cloud-native architecture. The major cooperation areas between Telefónica and Huawei would be the 5G core architecture evolution and research on CloudRAN.
Russian mobile carrier MTS and its fixed subsidiary MGTS unveiled a new strategy for technological development, including “5G” trial zones, in the Moscow area beginning this year.
MTS announced the establishment of 5G pilot zones in preparation for a service launch tied to the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The carrier said it plans to begin testing interoperability of Nokia’s XG-PON and 5G technologies in April.
Additionally, Swedish vendor Ericsson and Turk mobile operator Turkcell confirmed that they have recently completed a 5G test, achieving download speeds of 24.7 Gbps on the 15 GHz spectrum.
Having been working on 5G technologies since 2013, Turkcell also said that it will also manage 5G field tests to be carried out globally by next-generation mobile networks (NGMN).