Mobile/Wireless Testing

Eurobites: Vodafone Vaunts 5G Breakthrough

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Ericsson, Nokia toot their MWC trumpets; Orange links up with NTT on AI research and more; Russia's MTS sells stake in online portals company.

  • It's the week before Mobile World Congress, which means the major European vendors and service providers are in product-launch-on-steroids mode. Here are one or two announcements that have been made with Barcelona very much in mind…

      Vodafone says it has completed the "world's first" 5G connection of smartphones to its network, successfully completing a four-week trial with three (unspecified) 5G smartphones that will be launched in 2019. The operator was able to make a "seamless" 4K video call on its network during the trial, making use of 5G technology fully compliant with 3GPP's Release 15, which was approved in December 2018. Vodafone has already rolled a 5G network in Barcelona's city center: During MWC, the operator will have a car cruising those streets, measuring and reporting back on the speeds that are being achieved.

      Nokia has made two additions to its AirScale line of 5G-friendly small cells, one a mmWave offering for high traffic areas such as airports and stadiums, and the other a mid-band option that can be used to upgrade indoor coverage without replacing existing hardware.

      The Finnish vendor has also made improvements to its Anyhaul transport portfolio, tweaks that Nokia says will help operators get ready for the arrival of 5G by offering throughput speeds of up to 25 Gbit/s to basestations. As for the specifics: a new release of the Nokia Wavence microwave range supports carrier aggregation; the new Versatile WDM Module (VWM) Translation Line Unit (TLU)-200 provides high-density wavelength translation at 10 Gbit/s and 25 Gbit/s; a new interconnect router, the Nokia 7250 IXR-e, is "purpose-built" to support 5G and edge cloud requirements; and a proof-of-concept 25G passive optical network is intended to demonstrate the viability of existing fiber infrastructure to offer 25Gbit/s speeds.

      Ericsson has made a number of enhancements to what it collectively calls its 5G Platform, adding seven new products to its Cloud Core range, nine new vRAN radios and a new Mini-Link 6200 family of 5G-ready, 10Gbit/s long-haul offerings.

      Ericsson has also unveiled additions to its transport partnership with Juniper Networks, covering areas that include network orchestration, network slicing and security.

  • Looking beyond the Barcelona blather, Ericsson has been chosen by Vodafone Idea in India to supply a range of 5G-ready LTE gear. The operator, formed from a merger between Vodafone India and Idea Cellular in 2018, needs all the help it can get to compete with cut-price upstart Reliance Jio.

  • Orange has signed an R&D agreement with Japan's NTT, a move that will see the two companies sharing research findings into areas including artificial intelligence, IoT, cybersecurity, cloud services and smart cities. The rationale is that they will complement each other geographically: Orange's heartland regions are Europe and Asia, while NTT is a heavy hitter in Asia-Pacific.

  • Russian operator MTS has agreed to sell its 18.69% stake in OZON for 7.9 billion Russian rubles (US$120 million). OZON owns and operates five online portals, including OZON.ru, an online store in Russia.

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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