BARCELONA, Spain — There will be plenty of celebrating by the executives at Ericsson and Nokia here at Mobile World Congress this evening. T-Mobile US announced that it will use equipment from those two companies to deploy mobile 5G in 30 markets nationwide. Although the deployments will begin this year, it’s important to note that the operator is still looking at a 2019 launch date for commercial 5G.
New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Las Vegas will be the first markets to get the 5G service. And even though T-Mobile will begin installing the gear this year, it will be a pre-standard solution that is upgradeable to 5G once the standard is complete, which is expected to occur later this year, probably in the summer.
T-Mobile announced that the company is deploying 5G-ready gear in 600 MHz spectrum and in millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum. The company also will deploy 25,000 small cells using Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) technology, which basically means it’s deploying LTE technology in unlicensed spectrum.
T-Mobile didn’t specify which markets would have Nokia gear, but Ericsson said that its equipment will be used in New York, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas this year.
T-Mobile will use Ericsson’s 5G Platform and its 5G RAN software that is based upon the 5G New Radio (NR) standard. Ericsson announced earlier this month that its 5G RAN commercial software enables operators to launch 5G on existing equipment using the software as an upgrade.
The company will use Nokia’s Airscale radio platform and its cloud-native core technology in both the 600 MHz and 28 GHz spectrum. The deal includes Nokia’s 5G NR technology as well as its software-defined networking (SDN)-controlled transport and the firm’s new ReefShark silicon. Also bundled in the package is Nokia’s Cloudband management and network orchestration (MANO) software and its NetAct virtualized network management software.
At a media event earlier this week, Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri hinted that there would be a major 5G deal announced with a U.S. operator. He also harped on the need for operators to pick ‘end-to-end’ solutions for 5G rather than cobbling together different gear from different vendors.
Sprint Also to Start 5G
Similar to T-Mobile, but with perhaps less fanfare, Sprint announced that it will be delivering 5G to customers in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, and Washington, D.C. in the first half of 2019.
And similar to T-Mobile, the company will begin deploying gear in those markets in April with the intent of upgrading to 5G in 2019. Specifically, the company will be using massive multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) antennas, which the company says will dramatically increase the network speed and bandwidth. The company said it will deploy thousands of massive MIMO radios this year and next.
Although Sprint didn’t go into details about its vendors, it did say that it will be working with Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung Electronics on the massive MIMO radios.