The Race to 5G: Technology
Keep tabs on major companies around the world as they roll out 5G
Follow along as IEEE Spectrum summarizes the most interesting news and developments related to 5G technology through the 5G Tech Tracker.
Verizon Teases Commercial Fixed Wireless for Sacramento
3 January 2018
Verizon said it will roll out commercial service over 5G fixed wireless networks (which it tested throughout 2017) in Sacramento, Calif., by the end of 2018. It also tapped Samsung as its equipment provider of choice. Verizon’s over-the-air Internet service, which is based on high-frequency millimeter waves, doesn’t require a clear line of sight between the transmitter and receiver, which was surely a relief. Samsung says a signal from a single radio can reach as high as the 19th floor of a building.
Huawei Touts Core Network Test with China Mobile
9 January 2018
Huawei is making its move on China Mobile and its 880 million wireless customers. The companies announced “outstanding performance” in a test of Huawei’s 5G core network (but didn’t get much more specific than that). The core is the chunk of equipment and software that routes data, directs calls, and connects to other networks. Huawei’s version incorporates network slicing, a technique that lets an operator designate a specific bandwidth or latency for a particular purpose. Clearly pleased with itself, Huawei said its core could “serve as a solid foundation for the future large-scale commercial use of 5G.”
Sprint’s CTO is Pumped About Massive MIMO
10 January 2018
Sprint CTO John Saw talked up massive MIMO at an investors conference in Las Vegas, calling it “our bridge to 5G.” This technology expands the number of antennas at a base station from 16 to 128, and adds beamforming to coordinate signals. Sprint will bring massive MIMO to its network this year, and expand support for 2.5 GHz to all base stations (only half support it today). That frequency is “ideal” for massive MIMO, Saw said, because the antennas required for it are so small that even a batch would be compact enough to meet zoning requirements.
12 January 2018
Japan will soon host its first trial of vehicle-to-everything technology, which uses cellular frequencies (5 GHz, in this case) to connect cars to pretty much everything else, including streetlights, other cars—and even pedestrians. If it catches on, this would obviously drum up more business for NTT Docomo and its partners. But some experts believe it makes more sense for smart cars to communicate primarily through short-range (DSRC) radios, rather than over 5G cellular bands.
Telefonica to Test 5G in Two Cities in Spain
22 January 2018
Lucky residents of Segovia and Talavera de la Reina could be the first to test 5G service in Spain. Telefonica will conduct 5G trials in both cities for three years with Nokia and Ericsson. The announcement was short on details about the underlying tech, but did say Telefonica’s network will start out as nonstandalone (meaning it will piggyback on 4G) and that customers will be able to connect to it with existing devices. Telefonica expects to deliver mobile data at speeds up to 1 Gbps, or three times those which residents enjoy at home for broadband Internet.
Nokia Unleashes 5G Chipsets
29 January 2018
We’ll never know what the real-life Caribbean reef shark thinks about Nokia’s new ReefShark 5G chipset, to be installed in the radios of antennas on future 5G base stations. But the company touted a “massive performance gain”—specifically, the ability to boost the throughput of base stations by a factor of three. Nokia also teased built-in AI for network slicing, a technique that allows carriers to cordon off pieces of spectrum for customers who (presumably) pay more. The Finnish manufacturer says it’s working with 30 operators, and will start shipping ReefSharks later this year.
AT&T Confuses Everyone With 5G “Pucks”
31 January 2018
When AT&T said it would launch mobile 5G service in 12 U.S. cities this year, critics pointed out that compatible smartphones won’t be available that soon. Today on an earnings call, AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson said customers would initially use “pucks” to connect to its blazingly-fast network. “We’re going to be deploying pucks in the first part of our deployments, in these 12 markets,” he said. “So it is a mobile solution, but it’s not going to be a handset.” What exactly are pucks? Probably some kind of mobile hotspot, but it’s not entirely clear.
Sprint to Launch Mobile 5G in Early 2019
2 February 2018
A lot of companies are promising to launch various forms of 5G service right now, which can be dizzying to track. Today, Sprint’s CEO Marcelo Claure said on an earnings call that the carrier will offer mobile 5G service, and begin selling 5G-compatible devices, in early 2019. This combination of 5G smartphones and a network that supports them is the industry’s ultimate goal. Which is why Sprint, betting on spectrum below 6 GHz instead of the high-frequency millimeter waves preferred by its competitors, now claims it will be “first” to rollout a nationwide mobile 5G “platform.”
Verizon’s 5G Super Bowl
5 February 2018
A few lucky Verizon engineers went to the Super Bowl, but were stuck watching it through a VR headset in order to test the company’s 5G capabilities. Verizon made the experience sound as thrilling as possible, talking up the 180-degree stereoscopic live feed that gave participants an “in-stadium view,” and the high-resolution replays projected on separate screens—all streamed over a 5G connection (the specifics of which the company didn’t share). This setup echoes predictions by 5G enthusiasts who say consumers will pay extra to livestream sports and concerts in VR. But will they, really? Stay tuned.
SK Telecom Tests Self-Driving Cars at 28 GHz
6 February 2018
SK Telecom will introduce self-driving cars that operate on its 5G network to highways in South Korea in 2019. The company recently tested its V2X (which stands for “vehicle-to-everything”) technology with the Korean Transportation Safety Authority. On a 2-km track in a fake city called K-City, two cars used millimeter waves broadcast at 28 GHz to send warnings about obstacles to one another, and receive updates about construction zones from a control center. The company says the cars communicated more than 100 times a second, with latency (the term for the roundtrip delay) as low as 1 millisecond.
ZTE Gets Serious About Network Slicing
6 February 2018
ZTE says it has developed a cloud-based technology to provide end-to-end network slicing for 5G, which can virtually dice up a company’s spectrum for customers who wish to reserve chunks for very specific purposes. Many of the most anticipated uses for 5G (industrial IoT! robotic surgery!) will require different degrees of reliability and performance, and this technology should give carriers a way to guarantee special clients a certain level of service. In its press release, the company also tried to make “Network Slice as a Service” into a thing, but it’s hard to imagine that term catching on.
Qualcomm Is Very Proud of Its 5G Modem
8 February 2018
Qualcomm went on something of a PR tear today, issuing twin announcements about its work with smartphone manufacturers and mobile network operators to prepare 5G technologies to launch. With manufacturers, it talked up its Snapdragon X50 5G modem, which will debut in mobile devices released in 2019 from HTC, LG, ZTE, and Xiaomi. The company also said operators including AT&T, Chine Mobile, China Telecom, SK Telecom, and Sprint were using the modem as a reference model for future mobile devices in 5G network trials.
Vodafone Claims World’s First 5G Phone Call
21 February 2018
It was only a matter of time before a company issued a press release claiming to make the first 5G phone call. Today, Vodafone and Huawei say they’ve beat everyone else to this particular PR stunt. The irony is that making a phone call is one of the most boring things you could do with 5G technology. Wireless phone calls have worked pretty well for decades. The companies did place an HD video call (with a test device on a test network in Spain), which at least made use of the low latency that 5G promises.
Huawei Completes India’s First 5G Network Trial
23 February 2018
Huawei and Bharti Airtel have conducted the first 5G network trial in India, according to The Hindu Business Line. The companies achieved data speeds of 3 Gbps at 3.5 GHz. Compare that to India’s current average 4G speed of just 6.13 Mbps—which makes their service slower than 76 other countries. The companies also reported latency of 1 ms, which is much better than the 50 ms typical of 4G LTE, and on par with what’s generally expected for 5G service. These results are from a test network and actual performance would be slower—but still much faster than what’s available there today.
Huawei Has a 5G Chip, But It’s Not for Phones
25 February 2018
There’s been a steady dribble of 5G chip announcements this month. Now, Huawei has its first 5G chip—the Balong 5G01. Before you get too excited, though, note that this chip is not designed for phones, but “customer-premises equipment.” That could be mean a router, antenna, or other system installed at a home or business for the purposes of coordinating 5G service, or perhaps converting signals traveling by millimeter waves to frequencies more commonly used for Wi-Fi. Huawei says the chip has shown download speeds of up to 2 Gbps and works with millimeter waves and frequencies below 6 GHz.
Sprint Wins With Magic Box Small Cells
28 February 2018
Sprint appears to have hit a home run with the 2017 debut of its Magic Box small cells. The boxes extend and improve Sprint’s LTE coverage wherever they’re installed, and the company said today that it has now placed 100,000 of them in 200 U.S. cities. That’s good progress toward the 1 million it plans to deploy on its “multi-year roadmap.” The company has recently won several industry awards for the technology, which it developed with Airspan Networks.
China Telecom to Install A Lot More Base Stations
7 March 2018
China Telecom expects to finish 5G field trials in six cities this year, and will expand the number of base stations it operates from the 1.16 million it uses today for 4G to as many as 2 million for 5G, says Chengliang Zhang, vice president of China Telecom’s Beijing Research Institute. The company is focused on the 3.5 GHz frequency for 5G, while it relies primarily on 1.8 GHz for 4G. Because of the shorter wavelength, “if you want to get the same coverage as 4G, you need to increase the base station density,” Zhang said. He was speaking at a conference in San Diego, Calif.
T-Mobile Tests Massive MIMO in Czech Republic
7 March 2018
T-Mobile Czech Republic worked with Huawei to try out massive MIMO (which uses dozens or hundreds of antennas per base station) in Prague during the first two months of 2018. The carrier called it “the largest massive MIMO test in continental Europe.” The trial involved four base stations in the city’s Petrovice district, and T-Mobile had this to say about the results: “In the ideal case, the mMIMO antenna solution can provide an approximate five-fold increase of the capacity of a transmitter cell; in practice, the capacity is usually doubled or tripled.” Not bad.
NTT Docomo Conducts 5G Trial with Railway
8 March 2018
NTT Docomo recently teamed up with Huawei and Tobu Railway Co. to test millimeter waves in a field trial in Japan. The announcement had very few details about what, exactly the companies were testing—or if it involved railcars in any way. They did share that at least part of the test was conducted at 28 GHz, which is turning out to be one of the most popular 5G frequencies worldwide. And they said the test was intended to measure signal propagation “in a dense urban area,” which sounds about right for Japan.
Korea Telecom Aims to Launch 5G in March 2019
23 March 2018
Korea Telecom is preparing to launch 5G mobile service for enterprise clients in March 2019, and predicts it will be the first telecommunications company in the world to do so—dismissing claims by Verizon and AT&T that their fixed wireless networks (which only provide point-to-point service) qualify as 5G. A Korea Telecom representative said its 5G service would likely be available in cities first, and move into rural areas at a later date, The Korea Times reports. The update comes shortly after the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics, which the company sponsored and dubbed “the first 5G Olympics.”
AT&T Ready to Roll Out 60,000 White Box Routers
26 March 2018
AT&T will install more than 60,000 “white box” routers in existing cell towers across its network in the next few years. These routers are built with open hardware specifications, which means AT&T will no longer be limited by the roadmaps of specific hardware vendors. And the routers should be easy to update through software. The company pitched them as a way to reduce latency—a big goal for 5G—by bringing content and applications closer to the customer. The white boxes have their own operating system, which AT&T plans to open source through the Linux Foundation.
Telefonica Tests Fixed Wireless in Spain
27 March 2018
Telefonica spent three days testing a new fixed wireless system at its headquarters in Spain. Such systems are meant to deliver data directly from one stationary point, such as a rooftop antenna, to another stationary point. The system that Telefonica tested is built by a company called Cohere Technologies, and uses a new type of modulation known as orthogonal time frequency space modulation (OTFS). Cohere says its technology, with the new modulation scheme, can improve spectral efficiency by six times compared to other systems.
Ericsson Adds Maltese Teleco as 5G Partner
27 March 2018
Ericsson has been involved in more 5G trials than any other company, according to data compiled by Viavi. Now, it has signed on with a wireless provider in Malta to bring 4.5G service—and eventually, 5G—to the tiny island nation. Today, Melita said that it would use Ericsson’s software and base station equipment to upgrade its network. Melita is the smallest of three carriers, according to TeleGeography, that serve Malta, which has just 437,000 citizens. The announcement shows that carriers of all sizes are forming their 5G strategies.
Vodafone Shows Off 5G in New Zealand
27 March 2018
The technology director of Vodafone New Zealand went live on Facebook today to show off 5G demos during a technology showcase in Auckland. The demos ran on millimeter waves at 28 GHz using base station equipment provided by Nokia, including the AirScale system. One of the potential applications the host rattled off was “5G to the desktop,” saying office workers will connect to 5G instead of Wi-Fi. Commenters were not impressed, using the opportunity to complain about Vodafone’s existing 4G and 3G service, and to request better coverage for rural areas.
Ericsson Takes 5G Trials Down Under
9 April 2018
Australia’s National Broadband Network Company has teamed up with Ericsson to begin testing 5G technologies in Melbourne. The government-owned teleco is focused on using 5G to provide fixed wireless service, which provides point-to-point broadband service as opposed to mobile data, in the 3.5 GHz band. The company already operates 2,500 fixed wireless sites around the country, which serve 225,000 people, according to Mobile World Live. Overall, the company provides broadband to 6.3 million homes and businesses.
Korea Telecom to Build 5G With Fellow Carriers
10 April 2018
Mobile carriers in Korea have proposed some of the most aggressive timelines for 5G rollouts. Now, four competitors including Korea Telecom and SK Telecom have agreed to work together to build and share a nationwide 5G network. Yonhap News Agency reports the agreement would collectively save US $938 million over the next decade in costs avoided, compared to each carrier building its own infrastructure. In March, Korea Telecom said it expected to launch mobile 5G in 2019.
AT&T Publishes Details From 5G Trials
10 April 2018
AT&T shared details of its ongoing 5G trials today in a blog post by Melissa Arnoldi, president of technology and operations. Of the three sites discussed, the company’s observations from tests with small businesses in chilly Kalamazoo, Michigan proved most interesting. Arnoldi said the company saw “no impacts” from rain and snow on signals traveling by millimeter waves, and that those signals could travel through walls, leaves, and windows better than expected. The company also recorded data speeds higher than 1 Gbps (the target data rate for individual users on 5G is 100 Mbps) at distances of up to 900 feet between a base station and receiver.
Huawei Chair Attempts to Deflate 5G Hype
10 April 2018
Speaking to hundreds of analysts in Shenzhen who gathered for the company’s annual tech summit, Huawei chairman Eric Xu seemed to tamp down expectations for future 5G networks. He said the main difference between 4G and 5G service, in a customer’s eyes, would be faster speeds—but was quick to point out that 4G is already plenty fast for most things customers are interested in doing. He emphasized that Huawei will still invest in 5G, but noted “we don’t see many use cases or applications we need to support 5G.”
AT&T Shares Progress on 5G Evolution Upgrades
19 April 2018
AT&T touted its progress in rolling out “5G Evolution,” a marketing term it has used to describe network upgrades that aren’t quite 5G, but should double data speeds available on 4G for customers with compatible devices (which includes the Samsung Galaxy, but not iPhones). Specifically, AT&T says the upgraded network can provide theoretical peak data speeds of 400 Mbps (the global target for 5G is theoretical peak data speeds of 20 Gbps). The company said it added the service to “parts of” 117 new markets, bringing the total number of areas with access to 5G Evolution to 141. AT&T plans to expand the service to a total of 500 markets by the end of this year.
NTT Docomo to Test 90 GHz with Nokia
24 April 2018
NTT Docomo plans to demonstrate 5G service at 90 GHz at this week’s Brooklyn 5G Summit, according to a press release issued with Nokia. This frequency is even higher than others being tested for wireless service in the millimeter wave range, which include 28 GHz and 60 GHz. The companies said they would show off a phased array system that could support up to 256 antennas. With it, they claim to be able to deliver “multi-gigabit per second speeds” (the theoretical peak data rate for 5G is expected to be 20 Gbps).
Huawei Hits 2.9 Gbps in 5G Trial
2 May 2018
Proximus, a carrier in Belgium, has completed a field trial in a suburb near Brussels based on Huawei’s 5G base station equipment. It’s the first outdoor 5G trial completed in Belgium, the companies said. The setup incorporated massive MIMO, a technique that helps base stations handle more signals at once. Proximus used the 3.5 GHz band and announced data speeds up to 2.94 Gbps, and latency (the time it takes for a signal to travel from a device to the network and back) as low as 1.81 milliseconds. Back in 2016, Proximus had tested high-frequency millimeter waves in a lab and scored 70 Gbps.
Deutsche Telekom Turns On ‘5G Antennas’ in Berlin
3 May 2018
Deutsche Telekom says its first batch of 5G-enabled antennas are now live in Berlin, and connected to its 4G LTE network. That batch consists of six antennas, and the company plans to add 70 more across 20 sites by mid-year. The antennas are based on the 5G NR specification released in late 2017. They feature massive MIMO and beamforming to direct signals to users. In a promotional video, Alexander Lautz, senior vice president for 5G, claimed to have achieved “Europe’s first 5G data connection in a live network” with the system.
NTT Docomo Buckles 5G Radio Into Race Car
9 May 2018
In what must have been a thrilling demonstration, a team from NTT Docomo buckled a 5G radio into a race car and drove it up to 305 km/hr (or 190 mi/hr) to test the transmission of wireless data to and from the vehicle as it moved at speeds comparable to commuter trains. The signals traveled at 28 GHz—Docomo’s favored 5G frequency—at rates up to 1 Gbps for downloads. While the car was in motion, operators successfully switched the radio (which had 64 antennas) between a series of base stations (sporting 96 antennas each). Equipment on both ends incorporated beamforming and beam tracking.
China Mobile Prepares ‘Pre-5G’ for Hong Kong
10 May 2018
One of Hong Kong’s largest property owners signed a deal with China Mobile to install “pre-5G infrastructure” in residential and commercial buildings. The upgrades will run on China Mobile’s narrowband Internet of Things network designed to support low-power sensors (but not smartphones). These sensors will monitor properties for water leaks, allow residents to remotely lock or unlock their front doors, and charge retail customers for parking by reading their license plates. These features will presumably transfer over to China Mobile’s 5G network at some point, and the company plans later this year to begin testing commercial 5G equipment at frequencies designated by China’s telecom authorities.
AT&T Plans 5G Demo for U.S. Open
15 May 2018
In yet another 5G demo tied to a sporting event, AT&T says Fox Sports will stream 4K video of the upcoming U.S. Open golf tournament over a 5G connection enabled by millimeter waves. If all goes well, that footage could make it into Fox’s national broadcast via DirecTV. AT&T will capture footage from two high-definition cameras stationed at a particularly difficult hole, and hope to give fans “real-time virtual reality views” of the course. The setup will rely on radios and base station equipment built by Ericsson and additional gear by Intel. Melissa Arnoldi, president of AT&T’s technology and operations, said in a press release that “live sports will be transformed by 5G.”
NTT Docomo Pushes Past 5G with 100 Gbps
15 May 2018
Today NTT Docomo gave us a glimpse of the future of wireless beyond 5G in a test that transmitted data at speeds of 100 Gbps with technology that could make its commercial debut sometime in the 2030s. The company combined traditional multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) systems with a signal modulation technique known as orbital angular momentum multiplexing. With it, researchers alter the physical rotation of specific electromagnetic waves encoded with data, and then fold waves with different rotations on top of one another in order to transmit more data at once. This lab experiment was a very early first step toward the company’s goal of “terabit-class wireless transmission.”
Sprint Adds 3 Cities to 5G Rollout Plan
15 May 2018
Sprint added three new U.S. cities to the list of places it plans to deliver 5G service in the first six months of 2019, bringing the total number of cities on the list to nine. The new additions—New York City, Phoenix, and Kansas City—join the previously-announced sites of Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. Sprint’s timeline is slower than AT&T and Verizon, which plan to introduce commercial 5G service for wireless broadband Internet this year. But Sprint’s 2019 rollout will support mobile 5G for smartphones (which is what most customers care about, anyway). Sprint will use frequencies around 2.5 GHz, much lower than those which other carriers have targeted.
Vodafone Tests Massive MIMO for “4.9G” in Sydney
21 May 2018
Vodafone began its first trial of massive MIMO (multiple-input, multiple-output) technology within its existing network by installing a single base station in a suburb of Sydney. But the company wasn’t so bold as to call it a 5G site—instead, they’re using “4.9G” to describe it. The company plans to expand the massive MIMO trial to four more cities in the coming months, and roll out live 4.9G service later this year. At its first site, the base station transmitted at 1.8 GHz and incorporated frequency division duplex (FDD), a technique that involves simultaneously sending and receiving signals on different frequencies. This helps carriers transmit more data at once with minimal interference.
Sprint Joins Open Source Networking Project
30 May 2018
Sprint became the newest member of an industry group committed to promoting open source software for telecom networks, which have traditionally been built on proprietary technology. The group, called the LF Networking Fund, launched earlier this year with six projects, including one focused on network function virtualization and another for a network management platform that should make it easier for carriers to spin up new services. The group and its supporters within the industry have spoken about the open source effort as a crucial step along the path to 5G. Other members include AT&T, China Mobile, China Telecom, and SK Telecom.
Intel to Sell 5G-Connected PCs in 2019
5 June 2018
At Computex 2018, Intel and Sprint announced that Sprint would begin selling 5G-connected PCs built with Intel chips starting in 2019. Obviously, most people don’t rely on cellular service to deliver data to their PCs today, but the companies are hoping this will change as more bandwidth becomes available through 5G. Gregory Bryant from Intel and Ryan Sullivan of Sprint made the announcement during a keynote. Bryant said Intel was determined to be “the leader in 5G-connected PCs going forward” and that the company’s engineers are working to incorporate antennas into the kickstands of new 2-in-1 laptop/tablet combos. Sullivan returned to a familiar talking point: Sprint’s goal “to build the first truly mobile nationwide 5G network” in the United States with its 2.5 GHz spectrum.
T-Mobile Expands 600 MHz Coverage
6 June 2018
T-Mobile has extended its 600 MHz LTE coverage to 120 new cities and towns across the United States, and plans to add coverage for Puerto Rico by the year’s end. The carrier has described the low-frequency 600 MHz band as vital to its 5G plans. Although iPhones do not support service at 600 MHz, T-Mobile sells six varieties of smartphones that do. The company says its 600 MHz LTE service travels twice as far as signals transmitted by standard LTE, and that it will begin carrier aggregation this month to let customers receive data across multiple low- and mid-range frequency bands at the same time, boosting download speeds.
Verizon Tests 5G Outdoors with VR and 4K Video
12 June 2018
Verizon said it completed a trial with Nokia based on the existing 3GPP specification for 5G New Radio. In the test, engineers streamed 4K video and “multiple” virtual reality experiences at the same time, with latencies as low as 1.5 milliseconds. The test was held outdoors at Verizon’s campus in Basking Ridge, New Jersey—making it one step closer to reality than previous lab trials. The companies also experimented with four-carrier aggregation, which is a way to boost bandwidth by streaming across frequencies owned by multiple companies, and transmitted at speeds up to 1.8 Gbps.
Nokia Blends 4G and 5G in China
12 June 2018
In a trial with China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, Nokia showed off its ability to combine mid-band 4G LTE with sub-6GHz 5G service. This capability is intended to help Chinese carriers piggyback off their existing 4G networks while building out 5G service. The specific frequency bands that Nokia tested were 2.1 GHz for LTE and 3.5 GHz for 5G. The 3.5 GHz frequency in particular is ideal for “wide-area coverage and massive IoT connectivity,” according to Nokia’s press release.
Samsung Aids Drone-Based Real Time 4K Video Test
14 June 2018
KDDI Corporation successfully completed Japan’s first test using a drone to film and stream real time 4K video. The test, according to Samsung, who supplied the 5G end-to-end equipment, was to prove the viability of drone-based 5G services, including agricultural monitoring and disaster relief. The test featured a Prodrone drone equipped with a 4K video camera and a 5G-enabled tablet to stream the video to a laptop in real time using the 28 GHz frequency.
Vodafone Announces Seven 5G Trial Cities in UK
20 June 2018
Vodafone announced that seven cities in the United Kingdom would be the company’s 5G trial cities in the country. More than 40 sites across the seven cities—Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool, London (of course), and Manchester—are being prepped for 5G service. The trials are part of Vodafone’s larger Gigabit UK effort, which the company says will feature speeds up to 400 gigabits per second. The speeds are courtesy of new ‘photonic’ technology, which the company explained in the press release in the vaguest way possible.
Ericsson Demonstrates Automotive 5G In Africa
21 June 2018
Ericsson partnered with teleco MTN to demonstrate 5G for automotive use cases in South Africa. The tests included real-time streaming of 4K video to an audience from the point of view of the driver and, more interestingly, blacking out the windows and leaving the driver to rely on a VR headset to safely navigate the course. These are the first automotive 5G tests for the continent of Africa, which is still largely dependent on 2G and 3G networks, though Ericsson conducted similar 5G tests with Verizon last year in the US.
Remote Driving At Mobile World Congress Shanghai
27 June 2018
Huawei, along with China Mobile and Chinese automaker SAIC, exhibited 5G-powered remote-control driving at Mobile World Congress Shanghai. The demonstration featured a human driver within the exhibition hall remotely driving vehicles with the aid of real-time video updates. According to Huawei, 5G era LTE made the remote driving possible by keeping the end-to-end latency (or roundtrip delay) of the communications to below 20 milliseconds. This isn’t a first for remote driving, however: during CES 2018, a Phantom Auto engineer drove a vehicle in Los Vegas from 500 miles away, though that demonstration used 4G networks.
China Mobile Demonstrates Hologram Video Calling
27 June 2018
China Mobile, assisted by Huawei, used 5G for a hologram video call at Mobile World Congress Shanghai. The call was done over a standalone 5G New Radio system, using the standards recently laid out by 3GPP. As the name suggests, two people could converse with full-bodied, real-time projected representations of one another, a la Star Wars. Huawei explains in a press release that holographic video calling requires the network to transfer and process extremely large volumes of data without too much delay, making it a perfect demonstration for 5G networks.
Huawei Helps Verify 5G For Augmented Reality
29 June 2018
Huawei, in a joint effort with China Mobile and Internet-related investment conglomerate Tencent, verified stable and reliable network slicing designed for enhanced mobile broadband services, such as augmented reality applications. According to Huawei, this verification was Phase 1 of a 5G slicing verification project, and it focused on how the network slicing affected data rates on both ends of the communication. Phase 2 will involve larger-scale slicing tests, and field tests, planned for the second half of 2018.
Qualcomm and ConVeX Consortium Focus On C-V2X
4 July 2018
The Connected Vehicle to Everything of Tomorrow (The acronym for which is somehow ConVeX), a European vehicle-to-everything consortium, hosted live demonstrations of vehicle-to-everything communication. The demonstrations used consortium member Qualcomm’s 9150 C-V2X chipsets, as well as Audi cars and Ducati motorcycles. Proving that autonomous vehicles continue to be an important developing use case for 5G, the demonstrations included several scenarios where C-V2X vehicles avoided hitting motorcycles with the right-of-way, as well as vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications.
Intel and Ericsson Complete 5G NR Data Call
6 July 2018
Intel and Ericsson, along with 18 service providers from around the world—Telefonica, NTT Docomo, SK Telecom, and T-Mobile, to name a few—completed a call over a 5G New Radio network. The network was not standalone, meaning it was supported by existing 4G LTE infrastructure. That said, the call was transmitted on a 3.5 GHz band, one of the two primary bands that will be used for 5G in most parts of the world as deployment continues. The call used commercially available equipment, including Ericsson’s 5G NR radio 6488 baseband and Intel’s 5G Mobile Trial Platform.
AT&T’s 5G Network Will Power Wearable Computers
11 July 2018
AT&T announced an exclusive partnership with Magic Leap, a company developing wearable and spatial computing devices, including headsets and remotes. According to AT&T, the partnership and investment in Magic Leap was spurred by a desire to utilize its developing 5G network for innovative new forms of human-computer interactivity. Considering 5G has been touted as the generation of augmented reality, virtual reality, and real-time high-definition video streaming, it’s not a surprise that companies would also explore novel computing systems that could benefit from 5G’s high data rates and low latencies.
Ericsson Completes Licensed 5G Spectrum Call
16 July 2018
Ericsson, alongside Intel and Telstra—Australia’s biggest mobile service provider—conducted the world’s first 5G call using commercially licensed spectrum. The call used the personal SIM card of Mike Wright, Telstra’s Group Managing Director of Networks, and used Telstra’s network to transmit using the 3.5 GHz frequency band. The successful call comes soon after Ericsson and Intel conducted an end-to-end call using the 3.5 GHz band in a lab setting last week. This call, like that previous call, used a non-standalone 5G NR network and utilized Ericsson’s 5G NR radio 6488 baseband and Intel’s 5G Mobile Trial Platform.
Samsung Announces Chip For 5G And AI Mobile Uses
17 July 2018
Samsung unveiled its 8Gb LPDDR5 DRAM, intending the new chip to be used for 5G-enabled and AI-powered mobile use cases. In a nutshell, the LPDDR5 DRAM will provide the mobile memory required for the data-intensive services provided by 5G and AI. Samsung says two versions will be available: A 6,400Mb/s data rate at a 1.1 operating voltage, and 5,500 Mb/s at 1.05 V. It’s a mouthful of an acronym, but in case you were wondering, LPDDR5 DRAM is a (very) shorthand way of referring to the fifth iteration of Low Power Double Data Rate Dynamic Random Access Memory.
AT&T Announces Further 5G Rollouts In US
20 July 2018
AT&T continues to slowly trickle out the names of the dozen US cities that will receive mobile 5G networks by the end of the year. After previously announcing Atlanta, Dallas, and Waco, the company has now announced that Charlotte, Raleigh, and Oklahoma City will also receive networks. In a press release, AT&T says they have chosen to avoid the biggest cities, like New York City, in favor of more medium-sized cities that might benefit more from access to the next generation’s high-speed data rates. Now we’re just waiting to hear which cities will be the remaining six to receive 5G.
Qualcomm Unveils mmWave and RF Modules for Phones
23 July 2018
Qualcomm revealed two families of modules to facilitate 5G New Radio feasibility in smartphones. The first is the QTM052 mmWave antenna family and the other is the QPM56xx sub-6 GHz RF family. Both deliver important functionality enabling 5G connections to smartphones. 5G is highly dependant on millimeter waves, so any antenna that can compactly fit inside a smartphone and receive signals on those wavelengths is vital. Likewise, the sub-6 GHz radio frequency modules will provide fuller coverage for 5G devices, should the higher-frequency millimeter waves not be available.
Verizon Announces 5G Deployment In Houston
24 July 2018
Not to be outdone by AT&T, which recently announced three more cities that will receive 5G by the end of the year, Verizon announced… one. Houston joins Los Angeles and Sacramento as cities targeted for 5G rollouts by Verizon, which has also announced that it will ultimately deploy four commercial 5G networks by the end of the year. In fairness to Verizon, the company has also planned nearly a dozen trial networks and customer pilot markets in other US cities during the year.
Intel Starts Work On MEMS Timing For 5G Modems
24 July 2018
Intel is partnering with SiTime, a producer of silicon MEMS oscillators, to produce MEMS timing solutions for 5G modems. MEMS, short for microelectromechanical systems, are tiny timing devices that produce stable frequencies to use for time references. 5G networks, with their dependency on fast signals and low latency, will require highly precise time-keeping in modems and other devices, which is precisely why Intel and SiTime will be developing robust and resilient MEMS solutions for the next generation of devices.
NTT Docomo Demonstrates “On-Glass” 5G Antennas
25 July 2018
If the future of autonomous and connected cars promised by 5G is going to happen, cars will need antennas tuned to the high frequency, short wavelength signals of the next generation. That’s why NTT Docomo has developed an 8 Gb/s 28 GHz antenna that can be placed directly on a vehicle’s windshield without impairing driver vision. Fast moving vehicles and short signal propagations typically makes it hard to connect cars to 5G networks. NTT Docomo solved the problem through beamforming and having multiple antennas in different locations transmitting different data to the vehicle.
Vodafone Acquires 90 MHz Of Spectrum In Spain
25 July 2018
It turns out we’re not quite done auctioning off spectrum for the next generation of wireless. Vodafone Spain announced that it has acquired 90 MHz of continuous spectrum in the 3.7 GHz band, which it plans to use for development of its 5G services. Vodafone Spain will pay off the cost of the spectrum across 20 annual installments, which is fortunate, because the spectrum has a 20-year term as well. The company paid 198.1 million Euros for the band.
T-Mobile Spends $3.5 Billion on 5G Tech
30 July 2018
T-Mobile has committed to a massive, multi-year investment in 5G networks after committing to a multi-year, $3.5 billion deal with Nokia. In an announcement, the companies revealed that the Finnish company will provide a complete suite of services to the carrier, including complete end-to-end 5G technology. T-Mobile’s plan for 5G encompasses spectrum from 600 MHz to 28 GHz, all relying on 3GPP compliant 5G New Radio equipment. The equipment and services to be provided by Nokia includes AirScale radio platforms, AirFrame hardware, CloudBand software, and 5G Acceleration Services.
Verizon and Motorola Unveil 5G-Upgradable Phone
02 August 2018
To the extent that a winner can be crowned in the race to 5G, this might be one of the best ways to determine it. Verizon announced that it would provide service for Motorola’s 5G-capable moto mod alongside the moto z3 smartphone. To be fair, the moto mod isn’t technically a 5G-enabled phone, but instead takes advantage of Motorola’s robust add-ons platform. By itself, the moto z3 is not 5G-capable—it requires the moto mod to take advantage of Verizon’s 5G networks. This first announcement of a 5G-capable phone just may be worth a gold star for this tracker’s record.
Ericsson and Audi Explore 5G Car Production
02 August 2018
Back in June, a spate of 5G-related car news made it clear that the next generation of wireless would bring a lot of new features to the automotive industry. Now, Ericsson and Audi have announced that they will partner on efforts to bring 5G to the manufacturing side as well. The companies will run field tests at Audi’s Ingolstadt, Germany plant as the first step toward developing fully-networked factories, which could eventually feature entire assembly lines and the robots accompanying them operating autonomously and wirelessly to efficiently construct vehicles.
China Mobile Tests End-To-End 5G in Hong Kong
13 August 2018
China Mobile completed the first end-to-end 5G tests in Hong Kong in anticipation of rolling out a commercial network. The company announced in a press release that it achieved speeds of 14 Gbps over the network. Although 5G-enabled phones won’t be widely available in Hong Kong until late 2019, by China Mobile’s own estimate, the company is planning to have a fully-available 5G network well before then. Until phones hit the market, the network will primarily be used for Wi-Fi coverage.
Sprint and LG Team Up for 5G Smartphone
14 August 2018
Coming hot on the heels of Motorola’s announcement to develop 5G mods for its phones, Sprint and LG have announced they will work together to develop the first 5G phone available in the US. In an announcement, Sprint says the phone will be available in the first half of 2019. Of course, 5G networks are still being deployed throughout the US, so there will be plenty of places LG customers won’t be able to take advantage of 5G when the phone first becomes available. Sprint has currently announced 5G mobile networks in 10 US cities, with plans to deploy further city-wide networks.
Verizon Reveals Its Fourth and Final 5G City
14 August 2018
Verizon has been revealing the four US cities that would receive 5G networks before the end of 2018 in a slow trickle. The last to finally be revealed is Indianapolis, and it joins Houston, Los Angeles, and Sacramento. In a separate announcement, Verizon says customers in the four cities will include Apple TV 4K in every residential broadband package. Other providers, notably Sprint, have announced 5G deployments in more cities than Verizon, but Verizon has promised that its 5G networks will be the first that are commercially available.
Samsung Develops Industry’s “First” 5G Modem
15 August 2018
Samsung has revealed its Exynos Modem 5100, which the companys says is the industry’s first 5G modem that is fully compliant with 3GPP standards. The qualification is necessary, as Qualcomm’s X50 5G modem has been available for a while, though it was developed before 3GPP finalized its standards. The announcement comes only a week after Samsung unveiled its latest phone, the Galaxy Note 9, which turned out will not have any 5G capabilities. The Exynos Modem 5100 is compatible with both sub-6 GHz and millimeter waves, with 2 Gbps and 6 Gbps, respectively.
Verizon Completes 5G Call in Moving Vehicle
17 August 2018
In yet another of the many distinct and specific 5G firsts, Verizon and Nokia completed the first seamless hand-off of a 5G NR call in a moving vehicle. That’s good news for anyone who doesn’t want their call dropped every time they drive into range of a new base station, especially considering how many there will be. Verizon announced that the data transmission used two 5G NR radios broadcasting on the 28 GHz frequency, and a single vehicle traveling between them, without any loss of transmission to the car.
Qualcomm Reveals Its 5G Mobile Platform
22 August 2018
Qualcomm announced a 7nm system-on-chip (SoC) to be paired with its Snapdragon X50 5G modem, which, while not a 5G phone in itself, will enable device manufacturers to begin developing their own 5G phones. Expect a rash of 5G-enabled phone announcements down the line as manufacturers start buying Qualcomm’s SoC. They won’t be first to the announcement, however, give that just last week, Sprint and LG revealed they would be joining forces to develop a 5G-capable phone for release in US markets in 2019.
Deutsche Telekom Demonstrates 5G At IFA
31 August 2018
At the Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin (IFA, or the “Berlin Radio Show”), Deutsche Telekom provided live 5G demonstrations to passersby visiting its booth. Among other experiences, visitors could see the sights from a VR version of the “Weltballon,” a tethered hot air balloon that gives tourists unimpeded views of Berlin. The company says the demonstrations emphasized the mobile, interactive future that 5G will provide, including mixed reality applications, mobile Internet surfing at unprecedented speeds, and online multiplayer gaming.
Huawei Publishes White Paper On Indoor 5G
4 September 2018
Huawei, alongside operator Hong Kong Telecom (HKT) and standards organization Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA), issued a white paper focusing on the indoor network deployment of 5G. While much of the 5G rollout conversation has been on city-wide deployments, the paper points out that more that 80% of 4G network usage occurs indoors. The white paper argues that for any operator to remain competitive, they must not undervalue the indoor needs of mobile users, and that providing high-capacity, reliable indoor networks is a crucial component of any successful 5G deployment.
Ericsson Says Radio System Will Speed 5G Rollout
5 September 2018
Ericsson has launched its RAN Compute portfolio, an expansion of its end-to-end 5G Platform. The portfolio, according to a press release by the company, emphasizes faster, more agile 5G rollouts for service providers by allowing providers to flexibly fine-tune RAN functions like beamforming and radio control. The RAN Compute portfolio also includes tools to help operators make the switch from 4G to 5G once they’re ready to turn on their new networks with minimal spectrum disruptions. Much of the flexibility is enabled by including additional basebands and increasing the capacity of the basebands already provided by Ericsson’s 5G Platform.
SK Telecom Selects Their Small Cell Manufacturers
6 September 2018
SK Telecom will use South Korean-based telecommunications equipment developer Contela to create the telecom’s 5G small cells. The two companies will also work alongside the government-funded Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) to bring the needed technology to fruition. Contela announced that the low-powered small cells would support 3.5 GHZ and 28 GHz frequencies, based on set international standards. If all goes well, the small cells will aid SK Telecom and Korea Telecom’s joint March 2019 nationwide 5G rollout.
Samsung Will Supply Tech To AT&T For 5G, CBRS
10 September 2018
AT&T has selected Samsung to provide the equipment for two nationwide wireless deployment projects in the U.S. In a release by Samsung, the company says AT&T will not only use its technology for its imminent 5G rollouts, but for upcoming CBRS deployments as well. CBRS—short for Citizens Broadband Radio Service—is a method of sharing valuable spectrum to avoid a spectrum shortage. Combined, CBRS and 5G networks will vastly improve the spectrum available to telecoms like AT&T.
Verizon Says “5G Is Here” With 5G Broadband
10 September 2018
Verizon has announced that customers will have access to Verizon 5G Home in four U.S. cities on October 1st. The cities—Indianapolis, Houston, Los Angeles, and Sacramento—are receiving city-wide 5G networks from the service provider, which will provide the backbone for Verizon 5G Home. The service will offer average speeds of 300 Mbps, with peaks of 1 Gbps. Despite Verizon’s bold “5G is here” claim, the company developed its own proprietary standards for the launch, and so it remains to be seen which provider will offer the first mobile 5G service as defined by conventional standards.
AT&T Completes Mobile, Stand-Alone 5G Call
10 September 2018
Amidst AT&T’s announcements of which U.S. cities will be among its first wave of 5G network rollouts, the company has also claimed the distinction of the world’s first mobile, stand-alone, standards-based 5G call using millimeter waves. There’s certainly a lot of qualifiers on the claim. That said, the achievement does mark a growing shift from testing in the lab and using specialized equipment, to conducting 5G connections with commercial systems. The test was conducted in Waco, Texas, one of AT&T’s rollout cities.
Intel Explores 5G’s Potential Before MWC Americas
11 September 2018
Just before Mobile World Congress Americas, Sandra Rivera, a senior vice president at Intel took to the stage with executives from Ericsson and Nokia to discuss 5G’s potential to disrupt and reshape industries. She discussed the usual applications of high-definition video and VR, but also discussed the potential for edge computing. And there will be plenty of applications: Rivera estimates that the 5G industry will be worth US $2.5 trillion by 2035 and produce US $10 trillion of revenue in the greater economy in that year alone.
Huawei Passes China’s 5G Standalone Test
14 September 2018
Huawei announced that it is the first vendor to pass China’s 5G standalone test. According to the company, the successful test marks the completion of the third phase of 5G R&D development in the country. Huawei says the test is compliant with the 3GPP standalone specifications released in June and it used Huawei’s Core commercial solution, developed in the three months following 3GPP’s specifications release. In addition to testing 5G standalone capabilities, the test also verified network slicing applications and 5G-to-4G interoperability.
Vodafone Makes Holographic Call With 5G
20 September 2018
Vodafone made it possible for an 11-year-old fan of the Manchester City Women’s Football team to meet the team’s captain, Steph Houghton. Almost. Kind of. The meeting was Vodafone’s demonstration of the U.K.’s first live, 5G-enabled holographic call. The demonstration was part of a series of announcements made by Vodafone at the company’s headquarters in Newbury, according to a press release from the company. One big announcement was that the company will have 1000 5G sites in the U.K. by 2020. That certainly seems like a reason to celebrate with an awkwardly coordinated high-five between human and hologram.
Intel Introduces 100G Silicon Photonic Transceiver
23 September 2018
Most of the development and deployment of 5G has been centered around millimeter waves, and how to harness that band of spectrum for communications. In an announcement, however, Intel has started exploring another branch of communications by unveiling a 100 gigabit silicon photonic transceiver for 5G wireless fronthaul applications. Intel says the transceivers can withstand harsh outdoor conditions, be directly installed on cell towers and communicate with baseband units up to 10km away. The company has also announced that 400 gigabit transceivers will be available in the second half of 2019, after successful demonstrations earlier this year.
ZTE Unveils 5G-Oriented Enhanced OTN Product
25 September 2018
ZTE announced its wonderfully named Enhanced Optical Transport Network (E-OTN) product, the ZXMP M721 CX63A, for constructing 5G networks. In a press release, ZTE says their E-OTN product can support fronthaul, midhaul, and backhaul. Furthermore, the company says the product is a uniform platform, which will simplify installation and save operators money. ZTE included a lot of technical specifics in their release, but some worth mentioning are that the E-OTN device supports hard and soft network slicing, provides optical and electrical hybrid cross-connecting, and can switch services from L0 to L3.
Samsung and AT&T Create 5G “Innovation Zone”
26 September 2018
5G will be an enormous boon for smart manufacturing by providing sensors and smart devices that can be deployed in large quantities on factory floors. That’s why Samsung and AT&T have partnered to construct a 5G “Innovation Zone” that will focus on manufacturing applications. According to a press release by Samsung, will be located in Austin, Texas. The “Innovation Zone” will combine Samsung’s network equipment with AT&T’s wireless technology. Among other applications, the zone will explore 4K video analytics for security and detection, monitoring with industrial IoT sensors, and location services to improve safety.
Huawei Brings Nationwide 5G To Monaco
30 September 2018
Monaco unveiled its “nationwide” 5G mobile network alongside the Monaco Yacht Show, three weeks after announcing a partnership with Huawei. While this is the first instance of a country establishing nationwide mobile 5G coverage, it should probably come with a caveat, given that Monaco is less than 500 acres in size. In a press release, Huawei says the network was demonstrated by using it to fly a drone over Monaco’s yachting market while streaming 360-degree footage to a VR headset. Additional antennas will be installed in the coming months, and be ready to support 5G smartphones by early 2019.
Verizon Turns On Its Fixed 5G Network
1 October 2018
Verizon claims it has turned on the world’s first commercial 5G network after launching its 5G Home in parts of Sacramento, Houston, Indianapolis, and Los Angeles. That said, the network that Verizon has launched is a fixed wireless network, and will not support mobile 5G coverage. According to the company, the fixed network is built on Verizon’s own open 5G TF network standard, and will provide broadband internet and Wi-Fi to home users.
Vodafone Acquires 5G Spectrum In Italy
2 October 2018
Italy raised 6.5 billion Euros by auctioning off valuable 5G spectrum, with Vodafone Italy spending 2.4 billion Euros for its spectrum portions. Vodafone Italy purchased 80 MHz of spectrum in the 3700 MHz band and 200 MHz in the 26 GHz band. In addition, the company purchased two 10 MHz frequency division duplexing (FDD) bands in the 700 MHz band. In a press release, Vodafone says it can operate on its 3700 MHz and 26 GHz frequencies beginning in 2019 with a 19 year license. Its FDD frequencies will be available in July 2022, with a license of 15.5 years.
Huawei Will Build 5G-Ready Network in Hong Kong
4 October 2018
Huawei will partner with China Mobile Hong Kong (CMHK), a subsidiary of China Mobile, to build a comprehensive network in Hong Kong. Huawei, in an announcement, says the network will be able to cover transport of 5G signals, private lines for businesses, and home broadband. The project is a new level of cooperation for the two companies, and marks CMHK’s first steps, traditionally a mobile provider, into network construction. According to Huawei, the network will leverage a host of new technologies, including Ethernet Virtual Private Network, segment routing, and Huawei’s Network Cloud Engine, among others.
AT&T Announces 99 New “5G Evolution” Markets
2 October 2018
AT&T has so far made ambitious announcements regarding its plans for 5G deployment. Their latest plan is to develop 99 new “5G Evolution” markets, which is the company’s buzzword for upgrading cell towers with advanced LTE tech. AT&T’s 99 new 5G Evolution markets bring their total to 239, and each offers peak theoretical speeds of 400 megabits per second. Looking ahead, the company plans to bring 5G Evolution (Which, again, is not quite 5G) to more than 400 markets by the end of 2018, with nationwide coverage in the U.S. a year after that.
Sprint and Nokia Make Massive MIMO Connection
8 October 2018
One of the key enabling technologies for 5G is massive MIMO. Sprint and Nokia have now demonstrated its usefulness by making a 5G New Radio connection over massive MIMO, a first in the United States. Sprint displayed the demonstration at its booth at Mobile World Congress Americas. The demonstration used 2.5 GHz spectrum licensed by Sprint and Nokia’s tech, including the AirScale Base Station and Massive MIMO Active Antenna. Sprint plans to use the tech to deploy mobile 5G in the early half of 2019.
T-Mobile Promises Near-Total 5G for Germany
11 October 2018
T-Mobile has lofty plans for 5G coverage in Germany. By 2025, the company announced, 99 percent of the German population, and 90 percent of the country, will be covered by 5G networks. The company made the promise as part of an 8-point promise to remove the digital divide in Germany. T-Mobile is also investing in fiber-optics and mobile infrastructure, pledging to cover 99 percent of the population with 50 megabits per second by 2020, and 100 megabits per second by 2022.
Samsung Acquires AI Company For 5G Management
17 October 2018
Samsung acquired Zhilabs, a company that builds AI-based network and service analytics. Samsung says the acquisition will allow the company to better leverage AI in the automation and optimization of its 5G networks. In an announcement, Samsung executives explained that the exponential data growth expected from deploying more 5G networks can only be adequately handled by turning over some of the network management to AI. It won’t just impact network management, however. Samsung also hopes to use AI to track and improve user service quality.