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BT, Nokia announce 5G trials and research

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BT and Nokia are to collaborate on 5G use cases and trials, and to jointly develop 5G standards and equipment.

The work will underpin the forthcoming roll out LTE-Advanced Pro and 5G services by EE, BT’s mobile division.

Nokia is already conducting trials of its latest 5G-ready radio equipment at BT Labs at Adastral Park, in Suffolk. Forthcoming proof-of-concepts will focus on technology enablers for 5G, including mmWave radio and convergence, as well as commercial applications of ultrafast mobile broadband, mission-critical services and the internet of things (IoT).

Nokia said the current work at Adastral Park demonstrates key pre-standard 5G technology “ingredients” running on Nokia’s AirScale radio access, including a new 5G frame structure and 4 x 100MHz carrier aggregation.

Howard Watson, Chief Executive of Service and Operations at BT Technology, said: “Our EE mobile business already boasts the biggest 4G network in the UK. We will build on that foundation to develop the next generation of LTE-Advanced Pro and 5G services over the next few years. 

“It’s still early days for 5G, but experience tells us a collaborative approach is key to success. We’re delighted to be working with Nokia to drive a common approach to 5G, and to develop exciting use cases which bring together our combined experience in fixed and mobile technologies.”

The pair said 5G, targeting multiple-Gigabit peak rates and latency of around one millisecond, will be essential for the rise of such things as virtual reality, mobile gaming and driverless cars. They also suggested it will allow greater flexibility of mobile networks, critical for IoT, smart cities, connected cars, and remote health monitoring.

Nokia already supplies BT’s 21C Core Routing Platform, the BT/EE subscriber register infrastructure, and part of the EE’s radio access network. 

Meanwhile, AT&T is planning a mass-industry collaboration on 5G with Nokia and other industry heavyweights to enable faster deployment of the technology, it announced today.

The US operator has held preliminary discussions with China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, KDDI, LG, Nokia, NTT DOCOMO, Qualcomm, Samsung, SK Telecom, Telstra and Vodafone.

BT has not been named so far among potential collaborators.

Operators are concerned current net neutrality proposals, as well as a broken spectrum model, will delay the launch of 5G services.

Tom Keathley, Senior Vice President for wireless network architecture and design at AT&T, said: “We’re joining other tech leaders to find and resolve key standards issues early and bring 5G to market sooner. Interim and fragmented pre-standard specifications can distract from the ultimate goal. Linking trials to the standards process is the fastest path to large-scale global 5G deployment.”

Separately, AT&T is accelerating over-the-air interoperability testing based on standards developed under the 3GPP new radio (NR) specifications. The trials are designed to evolve with future versions of 5G standards, expected to be finalised by 3GPP in 2018.