News Feature | October 17, 2017

The Week In 5G: UK, Australia Raise Stakes On 5G and Europe Conducts First Real-World 5G Trial

By Jof Enriquez
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German company Deutsche Telekom, Europe's largest telecoms provider, says it has successfully tested Europe's first ultra high speed 5G antennas in a real-world setting. Meanwhile, United Kingdom officials just earmarked £25 million in grants for 5G testbeds and trials as a way to shore up government support. In similar fashion, the Australian government has announced a 5G road map outlining its regulatory approach in supporting 5G networks in the country.

European carriers believe the region will be able to join the global rollout of 5G services by the end of the decade. A major step toward that goal was achieved recently when Deutsche Telekom conducted Europe's first live 5G connection in Berlin, Germany.

The company says its Massive MIMO (multiple input/multiple output) antennas achieved throughput of more than two gigabits per second to a single customer device, as well as a latency of three milliseconds on commercial sites in Berlin's Schöneberg district. The demonstrations included a live transmission of ultra-high-definition video, and an augmented reality (AR) application around a slot car track.

“We are demonstrating 5G live here, in the middle of Berlin, rather than in a lab. This is a very decisive developmental step on the way to the global launch of 5G, which is planned for 2020,” said Claudia Nemat, Member of the Management Board responsible for Technology & Innovation at Deutsche Telekom.

The carrier also is piloting the use of 5G for industry at the Port of Hamburg, where 5G will be used for traffic control and environmental monitoring.

Deutsche Telekom is using the frequency spectrum in the 3.7 gigahertz range, coupled with Huawei equipment with global 3GPP specifications, for the 5G New Radio standard. As soon as the standard is finalized, the company says it will proceed with a large-scale build-out, possibly in as early as 2018.

Industry and academe are leading efforts to bring 5G to Europe, but government support is not far behind. The United Kingdom's Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) announced this week that it will be awarding up to £5 million per match-funded grant (drawn from the £25 million 5G Testbeds and Trials fund) to UK-based companies who will conduct 5G trials in the UK.

“We must be at the cutting edge of new technology and we are determined to be one of the first countries in the world to use 5G,” said Matt Hancock, Minister of State for Digital, DCMS. “In these very early stages, we want all ideas from all parts of the country that will help us get the technology and the roll-out right to have a nationwide network of 5G innovators.” 

Like Europe, Australia is lagging a bit behind South Korea, Japan, and the United States in the worldwide 5G rollout.

However, a newly released policy paper from the Turnbull Government will accelerate Australia's transition to 5G. Officials issued 5G—Enabling the Future Economy, which outlines the immediate steps the government is taking to support Australia's telecommunications industry in implementing 5G services.

One major step involves putting up the 3.4 GHz spectrum up for auction later this year. No caps are in place for any single operator, so the auction is expected to be hotly contested.

The Australian government also plans to streamline regulatory agreements with mobile carriers to allow them to deploy 5G infrastructure faster. Major Australian telecom providers Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone all are readying their respective core networks for 5G, and have conducted live public trials over the last couple of years, according to The Australian.

Related, the Australian government will convene a working group to bring together industry and government stakeholders; the group will discuss opportunities that 5G will enable under the government's Digital Economy Strategy, Smart Cities Plan, as well as upcoming policy pertaining to autonomous vehicles.

“5G will be a core element of increasing connectivity that will enable innovations such as the Internet of Things, enhanced mobile broadband, massive and critical machine communications — all essential to a successful digital economy and networked society,” said Chris Althaus, CEO of The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA), which welcomed the highly-anticipated policy paper from the government.