Huawei and the Chinese carrier Zhejiang Mobile completed a small-scale deployment of 5G in Wuzhen, China. The 5G network can provide a single user with peak data rate speeds of 2.7 Gb/s. That bandwidth could support services such as 8K live broadcasts, 8K virtual reality (VR), and in-ambulance telemedicine.
The network uses Huawei’s 5G end-to-end products, and it uses the non-standalone (NSA) architecture. NSA is a 3GPP standard, but it has to be tied to an underlying 4G network; as opposed to a 3GPP standalone architecture (SA) that would apply to greenfield 5G networks.
The Zhejiang Mobile network incorporates Huawei’s C-band 64T64R massive multiple input multiple output (MIMO) Active Antenna Units (AAUs) and terminals. The AAUs can be deployed on multi-mode networks and work on multiple frequency bands. And the AAUs are compact, requiring less site space.
The 5G network in Wuzhen consists of dozens of sites in various forms, including rooftops; pole sites such as power lines; and tube sites such as outdoor lighting fixtures. “Thanks to scenario-specific smart beams and 3D beamforming, Huawei 5G C-band AAUs boast flexible and precise cell coverage control and can deliver Gb/s-level ultimate user experience,” according to a Huawei statement.
The two parties also conducted a series of tests and verifications in preparation for building a large-scale 5G network. The tests verified cell throughput and the data rates that users experienced.
No other standardized 3GPP 5G deployment has happened yet. In October, Verizon launched its 5G Home fixed wireless service in four markets. The company is billing it as the first live commercial 5G service in the world. However, the service uses a proprietary standard developed by Verizon through its 5G Tech Forum that is not 3GPP compliant.
The Zhejiang Mobile network could be the first standardized 3GPP 5G network. But the network sounds small with just “dozens of sites,” which may put it more in the category of a trial. AT&T is reportedly just weeks away from launching a commercial mobile 5G network using 3GPP specifications covering parts of 12 markets.