Finnish telecommunications company Elisa is now the second company in as many months to claim a position as "world's first" network operator launch commercial 5G. According to a recent press release, the company has now begun to commercially utilize a 5G network and to sell 5G subscriptions. The news follows a similar reveal from Qatar-based cell service provider Ooredoo which also claimed to be first as of May. Elisa says that its own 5G options have become available in the cities of Tampere and Tallinn. The new implementations are intended to act as a way to "kickstart" 5G development in Finland in the leadup to the regions first 5G license auctions in the 3.4 – 3.8 GHz frequency band. That auction is scheduled to take place this fall. According to Elisa, the first use of the new 5G network involved a video call to the Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure in Estonia, Kadri Simson. That was completed using Huawei 5G-ready "terminal devices."
Presumably, the network buildout is based on a Non-Standalone (NSA), which is the network type the world's initial 5G is expected to be based on. That means it is dependant on the infrastructure of current generation 4G networks rather than operating on a separate set of equipment. More importantly, the use of NSA would indicate that only the throughput will be handled by 5G, while 4G will still handle tasks such as network connections between towers and servers. Separate, standalone 5G networks aren't expected until the next wave of the technology begins to roll out over the coming years and won't be dependant on 4G LTE.
Elisa's 5G implementation should pave the way to making a wider diversity of services and applications available across mobile networks. Those will range from healthcare solutions to transportation and entertainment, according to the telecom. What's more, thanks to the improved bandwidth and wider support for a variety of different devices, companies operating on its network will have access to an improved platform for IoT solutions. In the meantime, the company also says it has been working across the majority of its network to prepare further cell sites for 5G. No timeframe has been provided for that but it should place Finland's Elisa as one of the first carriers, if not the very first, to begin rolling out the next-generation networks to a wider area.