News Feature | February 11, 2018

The Week In 5G: 2/9/2018 - Nokia, Qualcomm Complete 5G NR Interoperability Testing; Advocate For Nationalized U.S. 5G Leaves White House

By Jof Enriquez
Follow me on Twitter @jofenriq

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Nokia and Qualcomm have completed interoperability and over-the-air testing — compliant with the global 3GPP 5G NR Release 15 standard — in the 3.5 Ghz and 28 Ghz spectrum. Successful testing allows operators to begin 5G NR field trials this year, in preparation for the rollout of commercial 5G services starting in 2019.

“These tests by Nokia and Qualcomm Technologies are important to the progress of 5G,” said Marc Rouanne, president of mobile networks, Nokia. “Importantly, they demonstrate how we have quickly applied the 3GPP Release 15 specifications that were set in December, and using our AirScale base station… together with a prototype Qualcomm Technologies UE. Now, we can look forward to commencing standards-based, over-the-air 5G NR trials with operators.”

BT/EE, Deutsche Telekom, Elisa, KT, LGU+, NTT DOCOMO, Optus, SKT, Telia and Vodafone Group all have signed up to use the flexible 5G NR interface from Nokia and Qualcomm for their respective commercial 5G networks.

“The successful completion of an end-to-end interoperable connection based on the global 5G NR standard is a significant step on the path to launching 5G NR commercial networks and devices starting in 2019,” said Cristiano Amon, president, Qualcomm Inc.

Vodafone Ireland said it's on target to roll out 5G services within 24 months after the carrier and partner Ericsson achieved superfast broadband speeds of 15 Gb/s with a latency of less than 5 ms in trials, reported the Irish Times.

Japan's largest mobile provider, NTT DOCOMO, plans to begin commercial mobile 5G service in time for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, according to Nippon. The telco says viewers in and around sporting venues will be able to view multiple high-definition augmented reality video streams, where users can zoom in and out of a scene seamlessly, and alternate between multiple points of view during games. NTT DOCOMO is looking at future 5G applications, including driver assistance, remotely-monitored self-driving vehicles, and advanced ridesharing services.

Thus far, several use cases explored via R&D programs and trials have been supported by private wireless carriers and tech companies.

In the United States, a leaked memo suggested the government take over the nation’s 5G mobile network, but it was met with fierce criticism from private industry. This week, the National Security Council official advocating for the government-run 5G network has reportedly left his position because he had "gone beyond his role" and pushed too hard for the plan, according to the Washington Post.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has deemed the plan for a nationalized 5G network a “costly and counterproductive distraction” because the market “is best positioned to drive innovation and investment,” reported The New York Times.

The White House said it is not pursuing a government-controlled 5G network.

Jonathan Spalter, chief executive of the industry trade group USTelecom, said, “There is nothing that would slam the brakes more quickly on our hard-won momentum to be the leader in the global race for 5G network deployment.”

For consumers, some prototypes of 5G devices showed up in the news this week.

Samsung's first 5G tablet prototype enabled a 5G live video call between Minneapolis and Seoul using a 5G test network with Verizon and KT, reported ZDNet. Verizon had last month picked Samsung to provide the routers and 5G RAN for its 5G network that is launching in the second half of 2018. Samsung said its prototype tablet, which is capable of multi-gigabit per second speeds, has the ability to switch between existing 4G and upcoming 5G networks.

HTC reportedly displayed its first 5G phone at an event in Taiwan. The exact specs of the HTC U12 (codenamed HTC Imagine) handset is unknown, but could be capable of mobile data speeds of 809.58Mbps on the Speedtest app.

Meanwhile, ZTE launched its 5G end-to-end cloud-based network slicing solution across 5G radio access network (RAN), core network, and bearer network. ZTE said the world-first solution is "the key to the 5G network supporting industry digital transformation" by enabling a physical network to be allocated across several virtualised network slices for different needs and services, according to ZDNet.