The Santa Clara trial, which uses gear from Nokia, is intended to give consumers attending the tournament their first glimpse of 5G. In addition, the demonstration highlights how the technology can be used to deliver 4K streaming video as well as augmented reality.
The demonstration uses 73 GHz millimeter wave spectrum to stream 4K video at speeds of more than 2 Gb/s. In addition, Sprint is working with startup VideoStitch‘s virtual reality engine to demonstrate the low latency of the network.
Automation Is Critical
Although Sprint’s technology team earlier this year said the company is taking a “wait-and-see” approach to software-defined networking (SDN), it appears the wireless carrier may be reevaluating that stance.
In an interview with SDxCentral, Ron Marquardt, vice president of technology for Sprint, says he believes network functions virtualization (NFV) and SDN are critical to 5G. “NFV and SDN independent of 5G are important, but as you move to 5G they become essential,” he says.
And just because Sprint has not been open about the virtualization of its network, that doesn’t mean it isn’t making progress. “We haven’t discussed these topics externally. We don’t have a need to tell the world about it yet,” Marquardt says.
However, he does admit that as the network becomes more decentralized and distributed, it will become a challenge to manage: “Automation becomes critical.”
According to Michael Murphy, CTO, North America, for Nokia, 5G networks will be more distributed, and moving the core network elements closer to the edge will create a more complex network. “You can’t do this without SDN,” Murphy says. “It will make managing multiple clouds easier.”
Sprint is using the 73 GHz millimeter wave spectrum for this trial, but Marquardt says the company is looking at other spectrum bands as well. “There are a lot of similarities” with 2.5 GHz and 5G as there is was with 700 MHz spectrum and LTE, he says, referring to the fact that Sprint controls 160 MHz of 2.5 GHz spectrum in 100 of the top 100 U.S. markets. He notes that having that much lower-band spectrum could be beneficial for in-building coverage.
Sprint will be holding a second trial in Philadelphia later this week using gear from Ericsson. Sprint is hosting the 5G trials in conjunction with the high-profile Copa America soccer match because it’s a corporate sponsor of the tournament.
This is the first time the 100-year-old Copa America Centenario soccer competition will be held in the United States. The tournament, which started June 3 and ends June 26, consists of 32 soccer matches. Those matches will be held in 10 cities around the country including Chicago; Houston; Philadelphia; Glendale, Ariz.; Santa Clara, Calif.; Pasadena, Calif.; Seattle; Orlando, Fla.; East Rutherford, N.J.; and Foxborough, Mass.
Update: This article was updated to reflect Marquardt’s comments regarding the similarities between 2.5 GHz spectrum and 5G and 700 MHz spectrum and LTE.