A key element of 5G technology -- Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS), which allows the network to share 4G and 5G spectrum -- is late, according to T-Mobile's CTO, Neville Ray. The situation could delay major carrier plans to deploy the technology in 2020.
"There's one of the major vendors right now that's very late on delivering that capability," Ray said on the T-Mobile earnings call Thursday. Ray didn't name the company but industry observers expect that the firm is Nokia, which initially announced DSS plans in December 2019.
Because DSS supports 4G and 5G in low and midband frequencies, many carriers will need multi-vendor support to use the technology within their network. "The DSS software is in the BBU [baseband unit] so if the network has a percentage of Nokia gear in it that cannot be software upgraded to support DSS, then that portion of the network cannot be upgraded with Ericsson software unless a BBU swap out is implemented," analyst Earl Lum, president of EJL Wireless Research, explained via email.
"It's in the radio software," T-Mobile's Ray noted on the call, adding that the carrier has seen that the technology eats away at the net capacity of the shared radio. "The capacity loss could be pretty brutal," he commented.
A Nokia spokeswoman tells Light Reading that its commercial launch of DSS will happen "very soon," however, she stresses that the vendor is also working with device and chipset vendors to ensure that the system is "properly tested and certified."
Ericsson, Qualcomm and Swisscom completed a data call using DSS in the carrier's labs in November 2019. Ericsson and Qualcomm also tested the technology with Verizon in December.
Verizon is expected to deploy DSS commercially in 2020, to extend 5G coverage beyond its current millimeter wave (mmWave)-only footprint.
"Neville Ray and T-Mobile seem pretty preoccupied with our 5G network," Kevin King, director of corporate communications at Verizon, told Light Reading. "It must be because their 5G network can't even match the performance of our 4G network. We're confident in our 5G strategy and execution plan, and we'll keep the commitments we have made to our customers."
King reiterated Verizon's plan to deploy DSS in 2020.
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— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading