Austrian telco A1 announced that Gmünd, Austria is the first city where it is rolling out a 5G network in collaboration with technology partner Nokia. The operator said that network posted speeds of up to 10 Gb/s in a 5G data call on the live network.
The former Austrian incumbent also appeared to claim that Gmünd is the first 5G city in Austria. However, that honor really belongs to Innsbruck, where T-Mobile Austria and Huawei started a live 5G demonstration in February 2018. Indeed, Innsbruck has played something of a pioneering role in Austria’s mobile network evolution since the early days of LTE. During the 5G tests, T-Mobile Austria said it achieved speeds of 2 Gb/s and latency of around 3 milliseconds.
Nevertheless, the Gmünd data call marks an important milestone for A1 on the road toward 5G commercialization. The live data call used spectrum in the 3.5 GHz frequency band as well as massive multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) to achieve the high throughout speed. A1 CEO Marcus Grausam noted that Gmünd was selected because it is the type of rural community that will benefit from 5G-based high-speed broadband services.
In December 2018, A1 and Nokia constructed a “Pre5G” campus network at Vienna Airport using network slicing technology to support the different characteristics of services and applications deployed on the 5G network. Pre5G has been something of a thing in Austria and was originally coined by Chinese vendor ZTE as an interim step between 4G and 5G technologies. A1, T-Mobile Austria, and 3 Austria (Drei) have all carried out tests of Pre5G technology.
The three operators are still waiting to get their hands on spectrum that will support future 5G services. However, an auction of the required frequencies appears to be imminent. The Telekom-Control-Commission (TKK) has already published documents for the allocation of licenses in the 3.4 GHz to 3.8 GHz frequency bands, and the auction is due to take place next month. Strict coverage obligations will be imposed, such as the requirement to provide up to 1,000 5G sites depending on the spectrum range and region. Around one-third of those sites must be in place by the end of 2020.