Nokia and T-Mobile on Thursday celebrated the successful completion of the country’s first bi-directional 5G transmission based on a 3GPP-compliant 5G New Radio system. The test that led to the achievement took place in T-Mobile’s Bellevue, Washington-lab, having leveraged Nokia-made network equipment communicating in the 28GHz band and a “user equipment simulator” which mimicked smartphone data traffic. The significance of the milestone stems from the fact that Nokia and T-Mobile demonstrated a 5G solution based on the latest wireless technologies which can already handle mobile traffic and will hence be part of the wireless carrier’s commercial network.
The 5G transmission was relayed with Nokia’s AirScale radio and baseband, Cloud RAN with 3GPP-compliant software, and AirFrame server. The same platform was previously tested by T-Mobile in a variety of other scenarios and is expected to continue serving as a backbone of the company’s 5G experiments. T-Mobile is presently targeting early 2019 for the beginning of its commercial 5G deployment, having previously pledged to offer nationwide coverage by 2020. Its wireless plans changed following the announcement of its proposed merger with Sprint as the duo is now claiming it can only be competitive in the 5G space if allowed to combine, though both are still pursuing individual deployment with the hope that stateside regulators will greenlight the consolidation by the end of the first half of 2019, a timeline that many industry analysts deem optimistic and premature.
The fifth generation of mobile networks should deliver an improvement in wireless speeds, latencies, and capacities that’s significant to the point of enabling entirely new technologies and businesses, hence being expected to lead to job creation and large-scale economic growth. Augmented and virtual reality systems, 4K game streaming, and new Internet of Things applications are just some 5G use cases that are likely to change a broad range of industries in the future.