Deutsche Telekom and Huawei launch Europe’s first 5G network

Deutsche Telekom has partnered with Huawei to launch Europe’s first commercial network heavily-based on what the final 5G standard is set to be.

While 5G is yet to be officially standardised, the 3GPP standards body announced it will bring forward its plans by six months and lock down the first standards in December. This means we’ve reached a point where little change is expected and vendors can get to work on standardised 5G equipment. In fact, some operators expect to launch standards-based 5G as early as 2019.

Huawei and Deutsche Telekom call their system “pre-5G” but its technology will be very similar to the final network.

“5G new radio will be critical for meeting our customers’ ever-increasing connectivity requirements that are steadily growing with more and more network connections,” said Claudia Nemat, Deutsche Telekom board member for technology and innovation. “Our achievement demonstrates the feasibility of our plans to deliver a superior, new customer experience.”

5G performance

Deutsche Telekom’s pre-5G network went live on its network in central Berlin and delivered downstream speeds of more than 2 Gbit/s and latency of just three milliseconds over spectrum in the 3.7GHz band.

These results comfortably beat the most advanced 4G networks. The best examples of 4G are heading towards gigabit speeds, less than half that of the 5G network. As for latency, the lowest average latency in the UK is on EE’s 4G network at 48.4ms.

Huawei aims to go even further. Their vision is for 100 billion 5G connections, 1ms latency, and 100 Gbit/s throughput.

“These achievements highlight the capabilities of the 5G NR equipment to meet operators’ requirements for addressing new business opportunities for end users,” says Huimin Zhu, Huawei VP for 5G. “Huawei is confident that the partnership with Deutsche Telekom can fully prepare the commercial launch of 5G NR services in Europe by 2020 thanks to 3GPP standardization efforts.”

It’s worth noting there will likely be some variance to performance when 5G is released. While this implementation was conducted in a real-world setting, it still uses a technically pre-5G standard. A likely increase in devices using the 5G network, including more IoT devices, will also have some impact on the final performance results.

"With this real-world achievement, Deutsche Telekom is making its first important step towards a 5G network launch," said Bruno Jacobfeuerborn, Deutsche Telekom's chief technology officer. "When the standard is defined, we will trial it in 2018 to prepare the ground for a wider deployment of commercial sites and the offering of devices for the mass market as they become available."

What are your thoughts on the 5G network launch by Deutsche Telekom and Huawei? Let us know in the comments.

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