It's springtime for Ericsson and 5G, as the Swedish vendor has now signed test agreements for the next-generation mobile technology with nearly 20 operators, and some trials will start this year.
5G is the next generation of wireless after 4G LTE. It will use much higher frequency gigahertz (GHz) centimeter and millimeter radios -- as well as more standard bandwidths -- to take advantage of abundant capacity in the higher bands. Network speeds are expected to be up to a 100 times faster than with 4G today.
Sebastian Tolstoy, head of marketing and communications at Ericsson, tells Light Reading that the company now has "memorandums of understanding" with "nearly 19" operators to test 5G. "Obviously, we won't do 19 this year," he chuckles.
Nonetheless, Ericsson will be showing its latest "beautiful" 5G radio hardware and "even more beautiful" software at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next week. "This is the biggest year for the radio unit," Tolstoy claims.
Key among these Ericsson test operators will be AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), which is planning lab tests for initial radios that could be used for 5G in the second quarter, with outdoor tests following in the summer. Tolstoy says US operators are now pushing the development of 5G. (See AT&T Lights Fire Under 5G, Plans 2016 Trials.)
AT&T is expecting to test 3.5GHz, 4GHz, 15GHz and 28GHz radios to develop a better understanding of 5G. Ericsson has recently been running a 15GHz pre-5G test rig. Tolstoy, however, insists the vendor will support whatever frequencies AT&T needs. (See AT&T Wants to Start 5G Tests in Austin.)
While US carriers may be pushing the standard forward, Tolstoy expects that "widespread, commercial deployments" of full 5G will still be tied to the 2020 date the wider industry is targeting.
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading