Moving and shaking on the 5G front
2018 - A new year and with it comes new tests and trials and tech-news relating to the eagerly anticipated 5G! We thought we would give you a brief rundown of the latest updates.
Vodafone UK and Ericsson first in the UK with live pre-standard 5G test
On the 20th December 2017 an article from the Vodafone news page announced that Vodafone UK and Ericsson, in partnership with academics at King's College London, had successfully tested standalone pre-standard 5G using a prototype device in a central London 3.5 gigahertz (GHz) spectrum field trial. This was the first demonstration in the UK of pre-standard 5G working independently of existing 4G network technologies.
During the testing, engineers were able to showcase a number of key 5G technologies, including extensive use of Massive MIMO. Massive MIMO uses multiple antennae to send and receive data more efficiently to boost capacity where lots of people connect to the network at the same time. This technology is already being deployed by Vodafone in its network and is the key building block for 5G. The project is also combining different bands of mobile spectrums to increase capacity and data speeds.
Kye Prigg, Head of Networks for Vodafone UK, said: "We're delighted to be the first provider to test standalone 5G in the field, however, building a 5G network will take time. 5G also needs fibre optic cables. Together with CityFibre, we will soon start work installing the advanced fibre networks providing high-capacity backhaul connections required for 5G mobile services."
Marielle Lindgren, Head of Ericsson in the UK and Ireland, added: "Supporting our customers in making 5G a reality is key for us. This is a live trial in a densely populated central London urban area and the first time in the UK that we've been able to show pre-standard 5G working independently."
Vodafone will continue to test 5G technology prior to its commercial deployment from 2020. Exciting times!
Isle of Wight could host first UK 5G deployment
According to a local news site, On The Wight, a bid has been submitted by the Isle of Wight Council for the island to be chosen as a test location for 5G technology.
In the council's performance and finance report it was noted that, "An Island bid to become a test bed for 5G mobile communications has been submitted in Dec 2017 and a bid for the UK government Local Full Fibre programme is being prepared for the end Jan 2018 deadline."
A 5g network trial on the Isle of Wight would be fantastic news for those who rely on data packages on their mobile phone for Internet access as well as for those areas that already struggle to get 3G or 4G currently. It would also be an ideal test site as there are few other places in the UK where tests could be conducted like this without 'bleed' into other towns and networks.
A statement was given from the Isle of Wight council which said; "Following the successful digital conference held in November 2017 the council has been supporting a consortium of organisations on the Isle of Wight to bid for funding from the government's 5G test bed programme. If selected, the trials can support testing of a wide range of industry applications but will initially focus on how 5G services can enable better health and social care in a population of higher than average age. These services could include high quality, yet cost saving services like video consultancy in remote locations and contribute to telehealth initiatives, where people can be treated in their own homes."
The Isle of Wight is a stone's throw away from us, so, if they get the trial we may have to have a Cellular Solutions reconnaissance day trip so we can give you the inside scoop on live 5G!
Ofcom is pushing ahead with auction plans, despite Three appeal
A statement issued by Ofcom stated the following –
Ofcom believes it is in the public interest for the auction to take place as soon as possible in light of the significant and strong demand for access to the spectrum, and the immediate and direct benefits to consumers of faster, higher quality mobile data services that can be offered using the spectrum.
Part of the spectrum to be auctioned - the 2.3 GHz band - can be used by mobile companies immediately to improve services for customers. The 3.4 GHz spectrum band can be used for future 5G mobile services.
Ofcom had planned to hold the auction in autumn 2017, but it has been delayed by litigation brought by Three and BT/EE. Following an expedited court process recognising the strong public interest in proceeding with the auction, the High Court upheld Ofcom's decision and dismissed both claims on 20 December 2017. However, Three has now sought permission to appeal on to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal is also expediting that appeal, which will be heard on 13 and 14 February 2018.
The litigation by Three is continuing to delay access to the spectrum and the benefits to consumers and businesses that can flow from it. We are keen to ensure that we can move as quickly as possible to hold the auction once the judgment of the Court of Appeal has been given.
We have therefore decided to proceed to make the auction Regulations for this spectrum award process on Wednesday 24 January, and follow the timetable as set out below:
• On 24 January we will publish the regulations, which will come into force on Wednesday 31 January.
• On the same day we will also publish guidance for potential bidders on how to take part in the auction.
• Once the regulations are in force, we will confirm the date for when we will be accepting applications.
• We anticipate the day for receipt of applications will be around seven days after the regulations come into force.
• We propose to commence the steps necessary to decide whether to qualify applicants to participate in the auction immediately after application day.
• We will stop short of formally qualifying bidders until after the Court of Appeal's decision is announced, and all parties know whether Ofcom's decision to impose an overall spectrum cap at 340 MHz is upheld.
The steps described above are all steps that we would need to take whether or not the Court of Appeal upholds our decision, and the judgment of the High Court. If we have to change any of the Regulations in light of the Court of Appeal's judgment we will do so with utmost expedition to minimise further delay.
Once the judgment of the Court is known, applicants will in accordance with the Regulations have a period to indicate to Ofcom whether they wish to withdraw from the award process and be refunded their initial deposit prior to the "last day for withdrawal".
New Qualcomm partnership could see first 5G phones launched in 2019 from Moto and OnePlus
5G ready Smartphones could be here sooner than predicted, as Qualcomm has partnered with numerous Chinese phone manufacturers to bring the mobile broadband tech to their handsets.
Qualcomm will be working with Lenovo, Xiaomi, OnePlus owner Oppo, Vivo and ZTE, and we could see the first 5G phones as early as 2019.
Cristiano Amon, president at Qualcomm Inc, said "5G will bring massive new opportunities to the mobile industry, and we are excited to work with these manufacturers on this 5G Pioneer Initiative. Qualcomm Technologies has close relationships within China's mobile and semiconductor ecosystem, and we'll continue to work with this ecosystem to drive innovation as we move from the 3G/4G era to the 5G era."
So the 5G hardware is definitely widely in development and testing around the globe, with more 5G mobile announcements expected at the Mobile World Congress 2018 in February.
5G will be great
According to most predictions, it is believed that around 20.8 billion devices will be connected to the internet by the year 2020, so 5G will be built for capacity as well as for speed. And as it develops and grows, the next generation of wireless network has the potential to create millions of jobs and enable a host of new technologies, from smart appliances on The Internet of Everything to autonomous vehicles.
Today's networks are built using large towers every few miles, however 5G requires the deployment of small cell technology to enable the network to handle the exponential growth of data transmission, so the distribution of these cells will need to be much closer together. For example, in a town centre there may be dozens of small, unobtrusive shoe-box sized cells mounted on street lights, buildings and other public infrastructure. 5G will improve on the current 4G LTE by creating a network architecture that will be built to last. Previously, mobile data technologies were built around hardware, whereas 5G will be a software-driven technology which can be updated far more easily than hardware, and at a much lower cost. The current 4G cells and masts have to switch between transmitting and listening modes, slowing things down. The new 5G base stations will transmit and receive at the same time (MIMO - multiple input, multiple output) and on the same frequency, giving us the wireless broadband speeds we so look forward to having.
We hope you are as excited as we are and we will update you again once we have any more interesting news and updates on this subject.