Telstra, Ericsson, Qualcomm announce 5G new radio trials

Telstra, Ericsson, and Qualcomm will use the second half of 2017 to conduct field trials of 5G NR using MIMO, mmWave, and beamforming in the hopes of accelerating commercialisation.

Telstra, Ericsson, and Qualcomm have announced that they will be conducting 5G new radio (NR) trials across Australia ahead of an accelerated 5G deployment.

The announcement, made at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona on Sunday, will see the three companies conduct interoperability testing and an over-the-air field trial using the current 5G NR specifications provided by 3GPP during the second half of 2017.

The trials will see them make use of millimetre-wave (mmWave) spectrum technologies at higher-frequency bands to increase network capacity and allow for multi-gigabit speeds across the 28GHz, 39GHz and sub-6GHz spectrum bands, as well as Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) antenna technology along with beam forming and beam tracking, according to Ericsson senior VP and chief strategy and technology officer Ulf Ewaldsson.

"This development is a big step forward in 5G readiness," said Telstra group managing director of Networks Mike Wright.

"This collaboration between Telstra, Ericsson and Qualcomm Technologies will help ensure 5G is ready for the Australian environment, including making sure it is able to be scaled up for our vast distance and sparse population, as well as ensuring our customers will be among the first in the world to enjoy the benefits of 5G."

5G devices and system solutions from Qualcomm and Ericsson will be used to trial real-world scenarios across the 5G NR system.

Telstra and Ericsson also used MWC to unveil their plans to provide an update of Telstra's network virtualisation, deploy an optical network transformation and expansion nationwide, and deploy a Cat M1 Internet of Things (IoT) network across the country.

Ciena, Sierra Wireless, Altair, Qualcomm, and Bosch are all contributing to Telstra and Ericsson's "Network of the Future" program.

Last year, Ericsson and Telstra also achieved download speeds of between 18Gbps and 22Gbps during the first live trial of 5G in Australia, with the trials conducted in a real-world outdoor environment using Ericsson's 5G radio testbed.

The 20Gbps speeds were split between two mobile devices, with each one getting around 10Gbps download speeds thanks to the use of Massive MIMO, which sends multiple channels of data at the same time, allowing users to have peak performances simultaneously.

In addition, a moving vehicle achieved download speeds of between 1Gbps and 6Gbps thanks to the use of beamforming technology, in which antenna arrays steer a beam to where a user is.

Telstra and Ericsson in February announced that they will conduct a trial run of Telstra's 5G network during the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast, with Telstra's team of network engineers temporarily transferred to Ericsson's Sweden-based research lab as part of the deal.

The two companies in 2015 announced their 5G network, later confirming its launch by 2020.

Ericsson earlier this month also announced a 5G network technology "research breakthrough" with partner IBM Research: A new silicon-based mmWave phased array integrated circuit.

As part of their two-year collaboration on 5G, Ericsson and IBM developed an integrated circuit with a phased array antenna module that operates on the 28GHz spectrum band, to be used in 5G base stations. mmWave bands, portions of the electromagnetic spectrum, allow for speeds that are more than 10 times faster than the frequencies used currently for mobile devices.

It is a "significant step" towards developing modules that are commercially viable thanks to their size, weight, cost, and performance, Ericsson said. The 2.8x2.8-inch device has four monolithic integrated circuits and 64 dual-polarised antennas that allow it to be deployed in dense areas and indoors.

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