MWC 2019: Nokia and Optus claim world’s first 3GPP 5G fixed-wireless service

Nokia and Optus say they will have 50 5G sites live by March, as the two use Nokia’s FastMile 5G indoor gateway.

Optus has announced being the first carrier in the world to use Nokia's FastMile 5G indoor gateway across a live fixed-wireless 5G network.

The announcement, made ahead of Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2019 in Barcelona on Sunday, sees the deployment of Nokia technology on Optus' 3.5GHz band on its commercial 5G home broadband network.

With Verizon's October launch of 5G Home using proprietary standards rather than 3GPP release 15 specs, Optus and Nokia are also claiming the world's first live 5G fixed-wireless access network based on those global standards.

"Nokia has partnered with Optus to accelerate our preparations for 5G, and as a result we are first in the world to deliver live 5G NR FWA services using the Nokia's FastMile 5G Gateway," Optus CEO Allen Lew said in Barcelona.

Nokia's FastMile solution -- which supports both 5G and 4G with carrier aggregation for higher speeds -- has also been used by Optus to stream multiple 4K videos simultaneously to customers, which the companies called another world first.

Nokia and Optus said they will have 50 live 5G sites by March, including five already live. The network also uses Nokia's 5G NR radio solution including the 32T32R active antenna units and Aiscale Baseband.

For its 5G rollout in Australia, Optus is additionally working with Ericsson, with the two last week making an Australia-to-Singapore 5G augmented reality (AR) video call with Optus' parent company Singtel. 

The call was made using an Oppo prototype device powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 5G modem.

Optus will use Ericsson to build 50 of its initial 5G sites over the next few months.

Earlier this month, Optus switched on its fifth 5G mobile tower, with 50 sites due to be online by March to provide coverage to 60 suburbs. Optus also plans to have 1,200 5G mobile sites live across New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory, South Australia, and Western Australia by March 2020.

5G Home Broadband on Optus will cost AU$70 per month for unlimited data at a 50Mbps minimum speed guarantee, and is slated to provide connectivity by the second quarter of 2019.

In explaining why Optus is working with both Nokia and Ericsson, Lew said the company will be taking a "multi-vendor approach" to its network. In an interview with ZDNet, Lew had denied the Huawei 5G ban had an impact on the rollout, saying that it neither slowed it down nor made equipment more expensive.  

On the smartphone side, Optus is working with all smartphone manufacturers, and expects to see 5G phones in the May/June window.

Ericsson and Oppo also signed a 5G deal earlier this week that will see them collaborate on 5G device testing and demonstrations, as well as 2G, 3G, and 4G patent cross-licensing, while Ericsson has also made updates and improvements across its 5G platform for carriers.

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