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Telstra, Ericsson live 5G trial attains 20Gbps download speeds

Australia's first live 5G demo has been conducted by Telstra and Ericsson in Melbourne, with speeds of between 18Gbps and 22Gbps achieved.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Telstra and Ericsson have 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 Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output (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 beam-forming technology, in which antenna arrays steer a beam to where a user is.

In what Mike Wright, group managing director of Networks at Telstra, called a "quantum step in capabilities", both Telstra and Ericsson said that 5G is not simply about connecting people, but also about connecting machines to machines and people to machines.

"To do so, 5G needs to deliver far more than what we're used to," Ericsson APAC CTO Magnus Ewerbring said, describing Tuesday's trial as being about learning and shaping the fundamentals for 5G.

Wright added that 5G will provide a boost in capabilities to take technologies like LTE-broadcast and narrowband IoT to their second stage of evolution.

"Our vision for 5G for Australia is really important; we really see the opportunity to not only change the way we as consumers go about our daily lives, but in particular the capabilities that come with the extra capacity, speed, lower latency, and the special use case that comes with 5G to see a whole lot of opportunities to completely change the way businesses, governments, and particular industries operate, and really quite significantly so," said Philip Jones, acting CTO of Telstra.

"Many of the technology advancements that will come with 5G will actually enable the use cases that while they exist today in the fixed world, will be able to be in the mobile world."

The live 5G trial was "fit for purpose for Australia", with real-life interferences like trees and buildings involved.

Thanks to involvement with the 3GPP standards group for 5G, and Telstra's partnership with Ericsson, Australian-specific environmental factors are being considered while standards are developed, such as the size of the landmass and the dispersed population, with research even being done on how gum trees absorb and reflect radio signals.

"What's so wonderful with being engaged with 5G so early is for the first time, we have this technology come to Australia with some of the Australian requirements baked in," Wright said.

In regards to spectrum allocation for 5G, Wright hailed the Australian allocation system as being "very progressive".

"We will continue to work with the government and the regulators ... the regulatory standard will allow allocations to be repositioned," Wright concluded.

Telstra had last month announced it would be conducting 5G field tests using Ericsson's radio test bed to trial network speeds, latency, MIMO, and beam-steering technology. Recent tests in Ericsson's 5G lab saw Telstra attain download speeds of more than 20Gbps.

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.

Australia's first 5G live trial follows Chinese network technology giant Huawei attaining 20Gbps peak rates during an outdoor 5G e-band field test with Vodafone in the United Kingdom in July.

According to Huawei, the test covered a single-user MIMO with a strong reflection path to reach 20Gbps user equipment (UE) peak rate, and multi-user MIMO for long-range UE to reach a 10Gbps peak rate.

Vodafone Australia is slated to conduct lab trials of 5G on its network during the second half of 2016.

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