Deutsche Telekom: 'We are ready for 5G'

Deutsche Telekom has said its 5G trial network in Berlin puts it ahead of Europe in implementing the new mobile networking standard, with the telco working with Intel, Huawei, Ericsson, and Nokia on trials and use cases.

Germany's largest mobile telecommunications carrier has said it is ready now for 5G, with its live 5G New Radio (NR) trial network in Berlin the first in Europe to be deployed across commercial sites, CTO Bruno Jacobfeuerborn told ZDNet.

Deutsche Telekom's Berlin network, launched last month as part of its 5G Haus development program, was constructed in partnership with Chinese networking giant Huawei.

The companies used Massive Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (Massive MIMO) technology on four Huawei radio antennas in Berlin's Schöneberg district: Two on Winterfeldtstrasse, and one each on Martin-Luther-Strasse and Pohlstrasse.

Using 3GPP 5G NR pre-standards on commercial sites across the 3.7GHz spectrum band for the test network, Huawei and Deutsche Telekom have attained high speeds and low latency on customer devices during tests.

"We have done a showcase of using three commercial towers, putting four antennas with Massive MIMO in there. Showcasing the New Radio based on LTE with Huawei, we showed 2Gbps throughput and with 3-millisecond latency," Jacobfeuerborn told ZDNet during the Global Broadband Futures Conference in Sydney on Monday.

"We're the first in Europe to do that."

According to Jacobfeuerborn, as soon as the 5G standards are defined by 3GPP and the technology is available from vendors, Deutsche Telekom will move to lay the foundation of its 5G network in 2018 ahead of a full rollout.

Deutsche Telekom is aiming to have its 5G network go live post-2020, although the CTO would not be drawn on the inner workings of its plans for doing so.

"What we do now in Berlin is to show that we are 5G ready," Jacobfeuerborn explained.

"And we are 5G ready. So the next point for us is when the standard is ready 2020 onwards, there will be a 5G network available. How we do that, of course, we will not tell publicly."

While Deutsche Telekom also waits for sub-3.6GHz and millimetre-wave (mmWave) spectrum to be allocated and auctioned off by the German regulator for 5G -- with the telco pushing lifetime ownership rather than 15-year licence terms for spectrum -- it is already working with all three major global networking companies on 5G: Nokia, Ericsson, and Huawei.

It is also working with Intel, making use of its x86 chipset and 5G Mobile Trial Platform announced earlier this year, with Jacobfeuerborn saying his company has a "very close relationship" with the tech giant.

"We work with everyone, and not only with [networking companies]; we even work with other operators from the LTE side, with research labs, we worked with Stanford University," he explained.

"In the 5G Haus, we work with everyone supporting 5G use cases."

According to Jacobfeuerborn, global collaboration is crucial for 5G.

"For 5G, the equation has to change," he said. "It's not just building and buying a new box and hardware ... we would like to have standardised hardware in the future."

Deutsche Telekom launched its 5G Haus back in March 2015, with the innovation lab being used to collaborate on development with research firms, startups, network vendors, and other partners.

One such mobile carrier that Deutsche Telekom has partnered with is SK Telecom, with the two telcos earlier this year collaborating with Ericsson to demonstrate federated network slicing technology.

Using Deutsche Telekom's R&D centre in Bonn and SK Telecom's at Yeongjongdo, the companies ran components of their 5G core home networks in their visited networks, with the tests successfully making network slices from each telco available to the other across continents.

Deutsche Telekom is also trialling 5G at the Port of Hamburg across the use cases of traffic control data, traffic light steering, and environmental monitoring, with Jacobfeuerborn pointing out that it is not just about building a network, but also convincing industries that they will need to use it in future business cases.

"We see when we have the use cases ready, it's not just building a new network," Jacobfeuerborn told ZDNet.

"So we have to fulfil use cases; the economics has to be around; a lot of things we have to do. And we have shown that with 3G, 4G ... so you can be sure that we will be ready."

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