If you didn’t know what 5G was before you stepped on the show floor at Mobile World Congress 2017 in Barcelona, Spain, last week, you do now. Nearly every operator and vendor at the global event had something to say about 5G.
And the 5G picture is finally becoming clearer with operators talking about 5G use cases, network speeds, latency, and friendly user trials.
Plus, the 5G timeline for commercial services is accelerating from 2020 to 2019 or even late 2018.
In the U.S., Adam Koeppe, vice president of technology and planning at Verizon, told SDxCentral that if the company’s friendly user trials are successful, Verizon could commercially launch its pre-standard fixed 5G by year-end 2018. Those user trials are happening in the first half of the year in 11 markets in the U.S.
Nokia and other vendors are working with Verizon on its pre-standard gear. In fact, Nokia announced that it has put together an end-to-end, 5G-ready platform, called 5G First, that includes the core, software-defined networking (SDN), and the cloud.
AT&T is also launching friendly customer trials in the second half of the year using technology based upon the 3GPP’s 5G New Radio (NR) specification. The tests will include over-the-air field trials and interoperability testing and are intended to accelerate the deployment of standards-compliant 5G NR gear and devices.
However, some operators are pushing Gigabit LTE rather than 5G, setting the stage for what could be a marketing maneuver. Neville Ray, CTO of T-Mobile US told the press at an Ericsson event that he expects Gigabit LTE to deliver 1 Gb/s speeds, which is the same speed that 5G will deliver. Ray noted that if you can deliver 1 Gb/s on LTE, it won’t make any difference to the consumer whether they are using 5G or 4G.
Sprint used Mobile World Congress as an opportunity to demonstrate its multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) technology. The company showcased massive MIMO using Nokia’s newly launched AirScale massive MIMO adaptive antenna. The carrier also used 3-D beamforming software and devices operating in TD-LTE band 41.