Verizon, Nokia & Qualcomm Complete First 5G NR Phone Call

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Verizon, Nokia, and Qualcomm successfully completed their first phone call via solutions based on the 3GPP's first implementable 5G New Radio standard — Release 15 — the trio announced Tuesday. The test itself has been conducted using Qualcomm's smartphone prototype designed to support 5G NR millimeter-wave communications, with its list of optimizations including an experimental RF chip. Verizon says it's the first wireless carrier to have successfully leveraged licensed spectrum to complete a call based on the standard finalized by the 3GPP late last year in Lisbon, Portugal. The network infrastructure used for the test has been supplied by Nokia, with the development being described as a historic milestone on the road to the commercialization of the fifth generation of wireless connectivity. Nokia contributed to the trial with its AirFrame server, AirScale baseband and radio, and AirScale Cloud RAN powered by its new software designed to be compliant with the recently completed standard.

The trio conducted its experiment earlier this month at Nokia's tech lab in Murray Hill, New Jersey, with its existence being disclosed shortly after Verizon, Korean wireless carrier KT, and Samsung managed to complete their first 3GPP-compliant 5G NR video call using an experimental tablet. The New York-based mobile service provider claims its recent advancements in the field are indicative of its strong commitment to 5G R&D, adding that it's still convinced it will be the first wireless carrier in the United States to offer 5G connectivity to consumers. The successful outcome of the trial is also attributed to the trio's previous projects aimed at testing 5G NR interoperability, ensuring their technologies can communicate with one another without any special effort on the part of end users.

Verizon reiterated its commitment to start deploying a 5G fixed wireless access solution in the second half of the year, with the company previously stating its next-generation mobile network will begin rolling out in early 2019. Sprint already announced similar plans, whereas AT&T is claiming it will offer wireless 5G connectivity as early as late 2018. Though skeptical about the near-term commercial benefits of the technology, T-Mobile is also targeting 2019 for the start of its deployment efforts, with all four national carriers previously committing to offering countrywide coverage by 2020.

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