With ecosystem alignment, expect big 5G momentum in 2019

Verizon launched a fixed wireless 5G service in four markets this year with plans to offer mobile in 2019, while AT&T is looking to offer mobile 5G services in a dozen markets by year-end. While these early rollouts will respectively used a CPE and mobile hot spot, a number of handsets are expected to hit the market throughout 2019. Which is good timing as operators in key global markets are poised to move from trial to commercialization next year.

Let’s take a look at five planned commercial launches.

Japanese telco KDDI expects to start offering 5G services as part of a limited  launch next year, company President Makoto Takahashi said during a conference call with investors and analysts earlier this week.

“5G is actually the extension of 4G LTE technology. So, we are thinking of adding software functions which are common to 4G, and we are trying to share the facilities with other companies, so that we do a capex investment efficiently, to reinforce [the]network with a view to [the ]IoT era,” Takashashi added.

KDDI has been also engaged in trials, mainly with Ericsson and Samsung Electronics. In September 2017, KDDI and Ericsson inked an agreement to test a proof-of-concept in the 4.5 GHz frequency band in a number of cities across Japan. KDDI and Ericsson said they were planning to carry out a large number of tests across a wide range of use cases in the 4.5 GHz and 28 GHz frequency bands, including interworking with LTE technologies.

Australian carrier Optus said it will launch fixed wireless services in the cities of Canberra and Brisbane in January 2019, Australian press reported. The carrier, owned by Singapore´s Singtel, said that other major Australian cities will have 5G coverage in March next year.
“After successfully concluding live 5G trials in Sydney, we are on track to commercially launch fixed wireless access services in January 2019,” Optus CEO Allen Lew said on Thursday. “Customer experience remains our top priority, and we are focused on removing customer pain-points across the entire business.”
U.K .telecom operator EE,  part of BT Group,  announced that nine 5G trial sites are now live across East London.
“Deploying this brand new layer of our EE mobile network is far from straightforward, and this trial has helped us to understand – and learn how to overcome – the significant challenges that we’ll face in the coming years. We’re also learning about the coverage we can achieve with 5G New Radio on our new 3.4G Hz spectrum, both indoors and in densely cluttered streets,” said Howard Watson, CTIO at EE.
EE’s nine trial sites in East London cover Provost Street, City Road, Central Street, Old Street, Cheapside, St Paul’s, Finsbury Circus Garden, Clerkenwell Street and Bartholomew Square, EE said. The carrier also said that businesses and consumers in these areas are being invited to join the trial, which will first use 5G as an alternative to their fixed broadband.

South Korean carrier SK Telecom has selected Samsung Electronics, Nokia and Ericsson as preferred bidders for its 5G network equipment ahead of the launch of commercial services in March.

“SK Telecom selected the aforementioned three companies for the realization of the 5G ecosystem and world-class service quality,” the company said in a press release, adding that technological capability, as well as financial factors, were considered.

The operator said these three vendors will supply base stations and other transmission equipment for the firm’s core 5G network.

In the U.S. Sprint plans to launch 5G services in select markets in the first half of next year and is laying the foundation through its deployment of massive MIMO antennas and its vast 2.5 GHz spectrum holdings. Sprint is using the massive MIMO infrastructure in a split-mode that allows it to serve enhanced LTE and 5G simultaneously.

In parallel with its Q2 2018 financial statement, Sprint announced it has deployed LTE-Advanced network technologies nationwide and is providing gigabit-class service in more than 225 cities. Sprint Chief Technology Officer John Saw, in an interview with RCR Wireless News, highlighted the importance of enhancing the operator’s LTE network to provide a surround for mobile 5G, which is planned for launch next year.

Saw said he was “extremely excited” about the LTE-Advanced upgrades and said it is “the culmination of a lot of hard work. I think that’s the big news today, and it’s an important stepping stone to 5G.”

“Our focus has been to use all licensed spectrum simply because we have enough of it to roll out gigabit LTE. Our competitors have been using a lot of LAA to supplement what they have with licensed spectrum.” He said using all licensed spectrum provides a more “predictable and available” network experience and provides Sprint “better quality control.”


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