Communications service providers all over the world are actively preparing for the 5G era. In its “5G Readiness Survey” published in November 2016, Ericsson identified 29 operators that had announced their intentions for 5G. Collaboration with other carriers and vendors, as well as with academic and research institutions, are a distinctive feature of 5G R&D, with joint 5G initiatives and special research groups mushrooming in every region.
The next section provides a brief summary of the work-in-progress of 10 leading operators from Asia, Europe, and the Americas. We begin América Móvil, which deployed the first test systems for 5G in Latin America, and could launch 5G as early as 2018-2019. Similarly aggressive operators include SK Telecom and Verizon, while NTT DoCoMo is also hoping to have a 5G network up and running in time for the Tokyo Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020.
América Móvil 5G
- Ericsson said in 2015 that Latin America’s first test systems for 5G and the IoT would be deployed in Brazil during 2016 together with América Móvil. The vendor also formed 5G research projects with the University of São Paulo, the University of Campinas, and the Federal University of Ceará.
- According to local media reports in September 2016, América Móvil’s CEO Daniel Hajj said the operator could launch 5G across its Latin American footprint as early as 2018-2019 following the deployment of SDN and NFV in the company’s all-IP network.
- SDxCentral reported that AT&T’s tactic is to not release its own speci cations, as Verizon has, but instead to try to speed commercialization of 5G once the 3GPP releases its rst o cial specs, expected in mid-2018. The company has formed a group to realize its target, and partners include China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, KDDI, LG, Nokia, NTT DoCoMo, Qualcomm, Samsung, SK Telecom, Telstra, and Vodafone.
- Like many other operators and vendors, AT&T has nevertheless been pushing for an earlier release of the rst part of 3GPP’s Release 15 speci cation – looking at December 2017 to March 2018 as opposed to the original timeline of June 2018. The portion of the 5G specification that AT&T wants released is specifically geared toward non-standalone 5G NR anchored in LTE, as the company is focusing on both fixed and mobile solutions for 5G.
- John Donovan, AT&T’s chief strategy officer and group president, technology and operations, said in January 2017 that the carrier is “not waiting until the final standards are set to lay the foundation for our evolution to 5G. We’re executing now.” He said data on the carrier’s mobile network has increased about 250,000 percent since 2007, and the majority of that traffic is video. “5G’s promise of greater speed and overall network performance brings huge opportunities not only for video but in the Internet of Things, 4K video, augmented and virtual reality, smart home and cities, autonomous vehicles and much more.”
- AT&T has already carried out or announced some trials, including what it described as the industry’s first 5G business customer trial in Austin with Intel and Ericsson using millimeter wave (mmWave) technology, which it said can deliver multigigabit speeds using an unlicensed band of spectrum. It also plans to team up with Qualcomm and Ericsson for mobile and fixed wireless trials in the second half of 2017, while in the first half of the year it is conducting a trial in Austin where residential customers can stream DirecTV Now video services over a fixed-wireless 5G connection.
- To facilitate its 5G deployments, AT&T has developed its own Indigo platform that includes the mmWave radios but also advanced SDN and NFV technologies, including AT&T’s own recently open sourced ECOMP platform for orchestration of next-generation 5G services.
China Mobile 5G