In the U.S., 3.5 GHz is shared access LTE band

In the U.S. later this month regulators will consider a key set of rules associated with priority access license to spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band, known here as the the Citizens Broadband Radio Service. While the focus is on using a new access model to enable private LTE, neutral host and operator opportunities, in many other key mobile markets around the world, 3.5 GHz is seen as prime mid-band spectrum for 5G. Let’s take a look at how operators in Europe, the Middle East and Asia are using 3.5 GHz.

In May Nokia and French telecoms company SFR confirmed the successful completion of a 5G call, using a 3GPP-compliant 5G New Radio system over-the-air in the 3.5 GHz band. The two companies said that the 5G test took place last week at the Nokia 5G Test Network and Competence Center in Paris-Saclay, France.

The 5G call used Nokia 5G NR technology, including the Nokia 5G-ready AirScale radio platform and Cloud RAN technology together with 3GPP-compliant end user test devices. Nokia also said that a cloud infrastructure based on the Nokia AirFrame Datacenter solution was built to support Cloud RAN.

Also in May Ooredoo said it launched the world’s first 5G network, covering an area from The Pearl Qatar to Hamad International Airport, using 3.5 GHz spectrum. Customers will need a compatible device available from the operator to access the new network. “We are the first company in the world to offer access to 5G technology and services, and the people of Qatar are the first to have access to the incredible benefits this technological upgrade will bring,” said Waleed Al Sayed, CEO, Ooredoo Qatar. “The 5G Supernet will be the infrastructural backbone of Qatar as our nation pushes to offer the latest smart applications in-line with Qatar National Vision 2030. This network will provide the necessary foundation to introduce a wave of new innovations, including driverless cars and smart roads, virtual and augmented reality, a national fleet of service drones, and much more.”

In June Finland’s Elisa also claimed the world’s first commercial 5G network launch and even came out with pricing plans. The telco said that the 5G network was launched in the cities of Tampere, Finland and Tallinn, Estonia. Elisa, which operates in Finland and Estonia, said that the first person to use the 5G network was Anne Berner, Finland’s minister of transport and communications. She made a video call to Kadri Simson, minister of Economic Affairs and infrastructure, in Estonia. Elisa said the 5G “terminal device” used in the video call was provided by Chinese vendor Huawei. Similar to Ooredoo, Elisa is using 3.5 GHz spectrum for the project. “We aim to make Finland the leading nation as a developer of 5G mobile services. The Ministry of Communications is ready to allocate the first 5G licenses in the 3,400–3,800 megahertz frequency band in autumn, which will make Finland among the first countries in the world to start building 5G networks,” Berner said.

In September, San Marino, a 24-square-mile micro-state surrounded by Italy, claimed to be the first “5G state” in Europe. Working with operator TIM and infrastructure vendor Nokia, the country’s first 3GPP Release 15-compliant network site has been activated, according to a Sept. 4 announcement.

Last year, the operator began deploying 4×4 MIMO, multi-channel carrier aggregation, advanced modulation and a cloud based architecture. That came in tandem with a countrywide fiber-fed small cell deployment.

According to TIM, standards-based massive MIMO equipment from Nokia has been installed in Faetano. Right now the network is using the 3.5 GHz band. TIM is currently testing 26 GHz transmission at a facility in Turin, and plans to work with Nokia to activate the millimeter wave frequencies in San Marino starting later this month. TIM described San Marino as “an outdoor laboratory” to explore how 5G can be leveraged for Industry 4.0, public safety, smart city and digital tourism services.

Earlier this month, China’s IMT-2020 (5G) Promotion Group said it has completed a third phase of non-standalone trials based on 3GPP Release 15, Chinese press reported.

Tests in this phase included both indoor and outdoor trials, core network and base station functions. Huawei, ZTE and the China Information and Communication Technologies Group completed trials using the 3.5 GHz and 4.9 GHz frequency bands, according to the reports.

The IMT-2020 Promotion Group said that more than 20 companies participated in the third phase of China’s 5G trials, including Ericsson, Nokia Shanghai Bell, Samsung, Qualcomm, Intel and Rohde & Schwarz. The group’s next step is to conduct interoperability tests on system and chip system terminals.


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