The 5G trials will be carried out in Lille and Douai between mid-2018 and mid-2019

French telecommunications group Orange has announced plans to carry out new 5G trials across its European footprint in order to pave the way for the future commercial launch of 5G services.

Orange highlighted that the group’s 5G strategy is based on three components: improved high-speed mobile broadband, high-speed fixed broadband access and new applications to support the digital transformation of businesses. By 2020, tests related to these three areas will prepare for the arrival of 5G for both consumer and business customers, the telco said.

As part of this strategy, Orange said it will carry out a technical end-to-end 5G test in the cities of Lille and Douai, in France. The telco said that the tests will use equipment provided by Ericsson and will be launched between mid-2018 and mid-2019 as soon as French telecoms regulator Arcep approves the 5G trials.

Orange also announced a test of high-speed broadband internet access under real conditions in Romania. The test will be conducted during the second half of this year in partnership with Cisco and Samsung.

As part of the firm’s efforts towards the future launch of 5G, Orange also announced a partnership with Nokia and Kathrein for the design of a smart antenna that manages 4G/5G connectivity. This type of antenna, which is currently in the prototype stage, will be compact enough to be installed on existing mobile towers.

”5G is truly going to revolutionize usages. It will enable mobile broadband speed up to 10 times faster than 4G, provide very high speed fixed access and will make possible new services that we are now starting to design and test with our partners. This is the beginning of transformation that will affect the whole of our society and lead us towards a genuinely 5G generation,” said Mari-Noëlle Jégo-Laveissière, executive director of innovation, marketing and technologies at Orange.

In the autonomous cars space, Orange said it has been chosen by UTAC CERAM, a specialist in testing and certifying vehicles, including autonomous cars, as its 4G/5G connectivity partner.

As part of the agreement, Orange will provide 4G+ high speed coverage on the entire site of Linas-Montlhéry (Ile-de-France). In addition, in collaboration with Ericsson, Orange will deploy an experimental mobile infrastructure to test the necessary 5G functionalities for autonomous vehicles. This test network is planned to open during 2018.

In January 2017, Orange and Nokia had signed a partnership to collaborate on 5G, specifically developing services that will allow industries and consumers to take advantage of efficiencies and business models made possible by the next generation network.

Under the terms of the agreement, Orange is using Nokia’s various 5G-ready products, including but not limited to its AirScale RAN portfolio, AirFrame data center platform, and cloud and cybersecurity solutions to create applications making use of 5G’s ultra-low latency and ultra-high reliability. This work will also include the application of ultra-broadband, cloud RAN and massive MIMO, IoT, network slicing, and energy efficiency.

In February 2017, Orange had also inked a 5G deal with Huawei. The two partners said they will cooperate on enabling technologies such as massive multiple-input/multiple-output antenna technology, cloudification of the mobile network, network slicing and channel sharing within spectrum bands. The companies said they will also focus on specific 5G use cases including augmented reality/virtual reality, coverage for Africa, energy efficiency and fixed mobile convergence.

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