Intel foresees two rounds of 5G deployment in China

As China’s state-owned telecom giants race to deploy 5G in the C-band spectrum (4 to 8 GHz), equipment-maker Huawei says it has completed the world’s first 5G interoperability and development testing based on the Release 15 standard with a commercial base station. The company said the test was based on the largest C-band cell bandwidth defined by the 5G NR standard.

Huawei says it has been working on 5G with T-Mobile US parent Deutsche Telekom since 2015. In this test, its commercial 5G New Radio base station was used with Intel’s 5G New Radio mobile trial platform. Intel, Huawei and DT say they have jointly verified the fundamentals of the new 5G 3GPP NR standard, including new synchronization, coding, frame structure, and numerology components underlying the interconnection of the NR-compliant terminal and network. (Read more)

Intel VP Asha Keddy, the company’s VP for next generation and standards, said network testing in China typically occurs on a much bigger scale than in North America, with many trials addressing hundreds of sites. She expects China to roll out 5G in two rounds, first in the C-band and then in the millimeter wave bands that the North American operators are testing now.

“China has publicly said it will be a world leader,” said Keddy, “The Chinese government has been very clear they want to lead.”

This is the reason the Trump Administration reportedly explored a national 5G network to accelerate U.S. progress, a discussion that apparently went nowhere. Even if the U.S. could build a national 5G network, much of the underlying technology might be shared across borders. Intel, for example, has built its XMM 8060 5G chipset to address Chinese and North American bands. The company is also pushing the U.S. government to allow incumbent users of the C-band spectrum to auction parts of it to mobile network operators. This would enable Intel to further leverage its experience supporting the C-band in China by helping U.S. operators deploy 5G in this band.

Keddy also expects Chinese operators to deploy standalone 5G networks, as opposed to the non-standalone equipment some U.S. operators may start with. Non-standalone 5G networks will fall back to LTE for control of data as it moves through the network. In contrast, Keddy sees standalone 5G as the foundation for new technologies that will go far beyond the capabilities of smartphones.

“The air interface was designed to operate for a variety of use cases and it is forward compatible, unlike 4G,” Keddy said. “As you augment it with network slicing then you can start doing things without worrying about legacy equipment.”

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