Five 5G trials shaping the future of mobile networks


Global 5G trials in Korea, Canada, Italy, Melbourne and the U.S.

The deployment of 5G networks is set to be a reality by 2020, with vendors and mobile operators getting ready for the new technology with trials around the world. Some operators, mainly in Asian markets, are even planning to launch the technology before 2020.

South Korea’s second largest mobile operator KT recently confirmed it expects to complete the construction of a 5G trial network in certain areas of the country by September 2017, ahead of plans for a pilot service during the 2018 Winter Olympics.

KT said it plans to install the 5G network in the Olympic host city of PyeongChnag, about 180 kilometers east of Seoul. The South Korean telco said the trial will last between four and five months before it launches a trial 5G service in early February 2018.

In November 2016, KT said it would be the first operator to commercialize 5G technology in 2019, a year earlier than its previously stated target. The company in October said it set up the network for a test run in the Gwanghwamun area in downtown Seoul, and claims to have seen data transmission speeds of up to 2.3 gigabits per second. KT is collaborating with vendors including ZTE and Ericsson.

Another recent 5G trial was carried out in Canada, where Telus partnered with Huawei to test 5G technology. Telus said the trial, which took place at the 5G Living Lab in Vancouver, British Columbia, produced network speeds of 29.3 Gbps. Telus said the work is connected to its planned $1 billion investment to connect Vancouver to the Telus PureFibre network, which will ultimately provide the backbone to support future 5G speeds.

In Europe, Italian mobile operator TIM said it carried out live tests of virtual radio access network technology. The architecture was initially tested at an innovation laboratory in Turin, and also has been recently tested in the town of Saluzzo. The technology is said to take advantage of LTE-Advanced functionalities by coordinating signals from various radio base station using a centralized and virtualized infrastructure.

The test included the installation of a virtual server in Turin that was more than 60 kilometers away from the Saluzzo antennas, which demonstrated its ability to coordinate radio base stations without affecting connection and performance using techniques based on Ethernet fronthaul. TIM said Turin will be the first city in Italy to experience the telco’s next-generation network and that it expects to have 3,000 customers connected to a trial 5G system in the city by the end of 2018.

Ericsson and Australian telecommunications firm Telstra carried out an outdoor test of a 5G trial system in Melbourne last October. Ericsson said the trial demonstrated 5G capabilities in a real-world environment over a live network, including tests on speed, latency and beam steering. The 5G trial system used 800 megahertz of spectrum, achieving aggregate speeds of more than 20 Gbps, the Australian telco said.

In the U.S., regional telco U.S. Cellular and Ericsson claimed a joint network test achieved speeds of up to 9 Gbps using technology components expected to be part of the 5G standard. The companies said the testing occurred in Madison, Wisconsin, using Ericsson equipment installed on a U.S. Cellular network tower tapping into an experimental license from the Federal Communications Commission in the 15 GHz spectrum band.

The test is said to have achieved peak speeds of up to 1.5 Gbps at a distance of one mile from the tower and 9 Gbps speed achieved at a distance of 787 feet. Technology used in the test included radio resource sharing, beamforming, beam tracking and multiple-input/multiple-output antenna technology.

About Author

Juan Pedro Tomás

Contributing Writer, EMEA & APAC
I have a degree in International Relations and a master in Journalim. I have worked seven years for Business News Americas, covering telecoms and IT news in Latin American markets. I have also worked for Telecompaper as regional editor for Latin America and Asia Pacific. I have also contributed with US-based magazine Latin Trade as the publication's correspondent in Argentina and with UK-based political risk consultancy firm Exclusive Analysis, writing reports and providing political and economic information from certain Latin American markets. I am married and I have two kids.