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MWC 2018: Huawei and BT to trial 5G

Huawei and BT will conduct 5G development and field trials across EE's mobile network under a new agreement, with the Chinese networking giant calling the telco one of its most important global customers.

Huawei has announced extending its 5G partnership with BT and mobile carrier EE in the United Kingdom, with the companies to conduct live trials of 5G New Radio (NR) and customer premises equipment (CPE).

"The aim is to test real-life 5G performance in a range of environments in preparation for commercial launch," Huawei said during Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2018 in Barcelona.

"Our 5G research has been hugely promising, and this partnership with Huawei will turn that research into reality," BT CTIO Howard Watson said.

"The EE network is already the UK leader for speed and coverage, and with the weight of BT's R&D and partnerships we can ensure that leadership continues with the introduction a world-class 5G experience."

Huawei and EE have also been upgrading the latter's LTE network, with a recent test attaining speeds of 970Mbps across 4G in Wembley Stadium using a Huawei Mate 10 Pro device.

According to president of Huawei's 5G Product Line Yang Chaobin, BT is one of the Chinese networking giant's "most important global customers".

"Signing this new agreement is recognition of our leading position in the 5G field," he added.

"This further deepening of our partnership will show that our end-to-end 5G solution -- from network to device -- leads the industry. This partnership demonstrates our ability to deliver and support the successful deployment of a 5G commercial network to our customers."

Read also: Top 5G announcements from MWC 2018

Huawei and EE had in November demonstrated separate uplink-downlink (UL/DL) decoupling technology across a 5G-LTE network deployment in London.

The trial network had included 5G NR and LTE co-site deployments, separating UL/DL onto different bands. According to Huawei, this improves coverage and capacity across the C-band by using 4G bands to carry 5G uplink data.

"In the 5G era, the available bands for operators will increase, and the coverage of higher bands such as C-band will become a major barrier to deployment. To solve this problem, networks need to make use of multi-band coordination to eliminate higher band coverage bottleneck," Yang Chaobin said at the time.

"5G UL/DL decoupling effectively enlarges C-Band coverage to achieve C-Band and 1.8GHz co-site deployment with the same coverage, reducing the 5G site investment. The joint test result with BT/EE is a good proof of this."

During MWC this week, Huawei launched its first 5G CPE, a commercial terminal device supporting 3GPP 5G standards with a Huawei-developed Balong 5G01 chipset.

According to Huawei, this constitutes the world's first commercial 3GPP 5G chipset supporting download speeds of up to 2.3Gbps across sub-6GHz and millimetre-wave (mmWave) spectrum bands.

"The Balong 5G01 makes Huawei the first company offering an end-to-end 5G solution through its network, devices, and chipset-level capabilities," the Chinese networking giant said earlier this week.

The CPE comes in a sub-6GHz model and an mmWave model, and indoor and outdoor versions, and enables download speeds of up to 2Gbps.

According to Huawei Consumer Business Group CEO Richard Yu, Huawei has invested around $600 million in 5G R&D since 2009 across network architecture, spectrum, field verification, and other trials.

Following the standardisation of 5G NR specs in December, Huawei and BT -- along with Ericsson, Intel, Nokia, Samsung, AT&T, 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 the beginning of the full-scale development of 5G NR including large-scale trials and commercial deployment.

Disclosure: Corinne Reichert travelled to MWC in Barcelona as a guest of Huawei

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