Ericsson leads 5G interoperability test with global carriers

Telstra, Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, Sprint, NTT DoCoMo, Vodafone, Orange, and SK Telecom took part in 5G interoperability demonstrations with Ericsson following the standardisation of NSA 5G specs.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Ericsson has announced 5G New Radio (5G NR) interoperability trials alongside global carriers following the 3GPP standardisation of non-standalone (NSA) 5G NR specs this week.

The trials included Australian mobile carrier Telstra; United States carriers T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T; Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo; Korean carrier SK Telecom; and European carriers Vodafone and Orange, as well as smartphone chip giant Qualcomm.

The live demonstrations, which took place in Ericsson's lab in Kista, Sweden, and Qualcomm's research lab in New Jersey, US, saw the companies utilise the 3.6GHz and millimetre-wave (mmWave) 28GHz spectrum frequencies using Ericsson's pre-commercial 5G base stations and Qualcomm's 5G NR UE prototypes.

Ericsson said the demonstrations were part of ongoing industry collaboration accelerating 5G NR ahead of commercial network launches in 2019.

"This milestone builds on years of researching and developing 5G technology as well as on leading and contributing to the standardisation work. By working closely with our key partners in early trials and fine tuning our global portfolio, we ensure that we can bring the standard-compliant technology to the benefits of our customers and their customers," Ericsson EVP and head of Business Area Networks Fredrik Jejdling said.

Ericsson said the demonstration complied with 3GPPs 5G NR specifications including Massive Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (Massive MIMO); mmWave support for adaptive beamforming and beam-tracking technologies; Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) waveform numerologies including sub-6GHz and mmWave frequencies; dynamic, slot-based subframe structure for data transmissions; and Polar coding and channel coding schemes using low-density parity-check (LDPC) codes for large data blocks and "extreme peak rates" and reliability.

"Telstra has been working to accelerate the introduction of 5G in Australia and this interoperability testing is a significant milestone towards commercialisation," Telstra head of Networks Mike Wright said on the Ericsson announcement.

"The strength of the 3GPP ecosystem is in the rigorous analysis to ensure devices and networks are fully tested together, so that our customers can purchase a 5G device in the future and have it work effortlessly on Telstra's mobile network."

Ericsson has previously worked on advanced mobility trials with all of the carriers involved in this week's interoperability trials, including Telstra's 2016 5G trial attaining speeds of 20Gbps; gigabit LTE trials with T-Mobile earlier this month; Verizon's 11 pre-commercial 5G networks across the US this year; AT&T's Texan 5G trial announced this week; 5G connected car trials with NTT DoCoMo; a pilot 5G network with SK Telecom; 5G NR trials with Vodafone this year; and 5G trials with Orange.

The NSA 5G NR specs were approved by standards body 3GPP earlier this week, with an accelerated 5G deployment spanning continents, networking companies, technology giants, and mobile carriers being signalled on Thursday as a result.

"NSA 5G NR specs were approved today at RAN#78. Balazs Bertenyi, RAN chair, called it 'an impressive achievement in a remarkably short time, with credit due particularly to the working groups'," 3GPP said in a tweet.

Following the approval, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Nokia, Samsung, AT&T, BT, China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, Deutsche Telekom, Fujitsu, KT Corporation, LG Electronics, LG Uplus, MediaTek, NEC Corporation, NTT DoCoMo, Orange, Qualcomm, SK Telecom, Sony Mobile Communications, Sprint, TIM, Telefonica, Telia Company, T-Mobile USA, Verizon, Vodafone, and ZTE announced that the global mobile industry can begin the full-scale development of 5G NR including large-scale trials and commercial deployment.

Vodafone R&D head Luke Ibbetson pointed out that the standard was set six months earlier than originally anticipated, with president of Huawei's 5G product line Yang Chaobin saying Phase 1 of the 3GPP 5G NR standardisation was completed "with great progress" thanks to collaboration between regulatory agencies, governments, research organisations, academia, and industry.

China Telecom EVP Liu Guiqing said the carrier would be looking to launch field trials in many Chinese major cities during 2018; KT CTO Dongmyun Lee committed to "bring full-scale services of the true 5G standards to commercial market as early as 2019"; China Mobile EVP Zhengmao Li is eyeing 2020; NTT DoCoMo CTO Dr Hiroshi Nakamura said the Japanese carrier would launch NSA 5G services by 2020; and SK Telecom EVP Jinhyo Park said the Korean telco would bring 5G into early commercial service in 2019.

Deutsche Telekom CTO Bruno Jacobfeuerborn said it is now "crucial that the industry now redoubles its focus on the standalone mode to achieve progress towards a full 5G system, so we can bring key 5G innovations such as network slicing to our customers".

Intel vice president and general manager of Next Generation and Standards Asha Keddy said Intel would continue supplying its 5G mobile trial platform and 5G modems to enable industry to run 5G trials, while Samsung Electronics head of IT and Mobile Communications Division at Samsung Electronics DJ Koh said Samsung would expedite its commercial 5G chipsets, devices, and network equipment.

Australia is set to host 3GPP's meeting in September 2018, where 5G standards should be given the final tick of approval during a vote.

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