A new 5G test site will be established in Darmstadt near Frankfurt am Main in the first quarter of the year with more locations to follow in the coming months. DT already operates a 5G testbed in Hamburg in conjunction with Nokia and the Port of Hamburg that is testing the use of 5G technology in an industrial environment.
The German capital has been given prominence in terms of 5G developments, however: DT and Huawei deployed six 5G antennas in Berlin in early 2018 following the launch of a 5G test network in 2017. As things stand, DT says more than 50 antennas have been integrated with the live network and described them as the “cornerstone for a commercial 5G network in Germany.” The equipment is based on the 3GPP non-standalone 5G New Radio (NR) specification.
Now, the Berlin Senate Department for Economics, Energy and Public Enterprises has signed an agreement with DT to help speed up the 5G deployment process with the aim of establishing Berlin as Germany’s pioneer 5G city. Ramona Pop, the Senator for Economics, Energy and Public Enterprises, said the primary aim of an early 5G rollout was to enable Berlin companies to “develop 5G applications and test them in a real environment with real users.’”
Walter Goldenits, CTO at Telekom Deutschland, added that the cooperation with Berlin on 5G network tests “is of paramount importance. We can test a wide variety of 5G scenarios in the metropolitan area of the federal capital — that’s very important to us.”
It’s not clear what an “early” launch of 5G means here, however. A report in Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagzeitung suggested the network would arrive before 2021, but DT as well as local rivals Telefónica Germany and Vodafone Germany have already been targeting 2020 for the commercial launch of 5G networks.
Nonetheless, the support of the Berlin authorities will certainly underpin DT’s plan to turn Berlin into Germany’s 5G capital. Telefónica Germany and Nokia have also completed the construction of their so-called “5G Innovation Cluster” in Berlin, and they are now gearing up to start testing the “performance and coverage” of 5G services in a dense urban area.
As pointed out by Pop, it all hangs on the prompt allocation of 5G frequencies by the German government. The telecom regulator Bundesnetzagentur (BNetzA) plans to start the auction of 5G spectrum licenses in early 2019 when it aims to allocate spectrum in the 2 GHz and 3.6 GHz bands as well as some frequencies in the 3.7-3.8 GHz and 26 GHz bands. All three operators are expected to take part in the auction, but they have also all filed legal action over the license conditions.