Orange is preparing a variety of extensive 5G trials in Europe over the course of this year that should bring the Paris-based mobile service provider much closer to commercializing the fifth generation of wireless networks, the company said Wednesday at an event held in its home city. The firm is set to test an end-to-end 5G solution in Douai and Lille in mid-2018, with the trial being specifically aimed at consumer applications of the wireless technology. No specific starting dates have yet been given as Orange is still in the process of having the experiment approved by French telecom regulator ARCEP so should the project be greenlit in early spring, the wireless carrier may accelerate its preparations for it that are already said to be underway.
Following the trial in its home country, Orange will embark on a joint venture with Samsung and Cisco with whom it's set to test 5G-based broadband in Romania. The experiment will take place at some point in the second half of the year and its initial description is indicative of a fixed wireless access solution, similar to the one Verizon is planning to deploy in the United States later this year. That possibility appears even more likely given how Samsung is involved in both projects with its experimental network equipment designed for a broad range of use cases. Orange's plans in Romania will hence be exclusively focused on fixed broadband solutions based on 5G that it hopes will eventually allow for temporary industrial connectivity platforms, among other technologies.
The wireless carrier is simultaneously working on new antennas in collaboration with Nokia, having described the venture as being consumer-oriented. The upcoming antennas should be relatively versatile and support both 4G and 5G so as to allow the electronics industry to easily transition to the next generation of the technology, the company revealed. Orange is also committing additional resources to self-driving vehicles, having confirmed plans to install 4G+ infrastructure at the Autodrome de Linas-Montlhery in order to test its vehicle-to-everything platform in partnership with UTAC CERAM. Following additional trials in 2019, Orange is planning to begin large-scale commercial deployment of 5G infrastructure in 2020, thus being one of the first telecom giants in Europe to do so.