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Ericsson, DT, SK Telecom Demo 5G Roaming

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Successful 5G trial across two continents showcases roaming capabilities of next generation networks

Three firms have successfully demonstrated workable roaming services after a trial of an intercontinental 5G network.

The trial involved network equipment specialist Ericsson, German telecoms giant Deutsche Telekom, and SK Telecom, the largest mobile operator in South Korea.

The trial saw a 5G network constructed in Germany and South Korea, and showed what would happen when 5G users go aboard and connect to another 5G network.

5G - Shutterstock © glossyplastic5G Roaming

The ‘world’s first intercontinental 5G trial network‘ was built jointly by Ericsson, DT and SK, and a successful proof-of-concept allowed for the creation of roaming extension of ‘network slices’ of the DT and SK networks in each other footprint.

The successful demonstration was hosted at DT’s corporate R&D centre in Bonn, and SK Telecom’s 5G Testbed at Yeoungjong-do (BMW driving centre) in South Korea.

“Our customers are demanding global connectivity with a unified service experience,” said Bruno Jacobfeuerborn, CTO Deutsche Telekom. “Network slicing is envisaged as a key enabler to support multiple services in the 5G era. Today’s breakthrough shows we can extend that concept to ensure optimised service experiences with global reach for our customers.”

This concept of ‘network slices’ is similar to that of ‘virtual networks on demand’, explained Ulf Ewaldsson, senior VP, chief strategy and technology officer at Ericsson: “With this world’s first intercontinental 5G trial network, we truly demonstrate the provisioning of network slices to global customers when abroad.”

5G is not just a faster network,” added Alex Jinsung Choi, CTO SK Telecom. “5G will provide extreme user experience anywhere and anytime, even when the user roams across different operators globally.”

“Federated network slicing will enable seamless platform sharing among operators at a global scale for continuous and guaranteed user experience,” he said.

Read More: What Is A 5G Network?

Global Service Experience

Essentially, network slicing in 5G networks allows for a mobile operator to configure an end-to-end network that can offer a range of functions and service parameters.

But when federated network slicing for 5G roaming extends this concept to a visited network, it allows for a mobile operator to offer a 5G network service globally, and ensures the customer does not need individual agreements with different operators for a global service experience.

So in effect this ‘federated network slicing for 5G’ is more of an enhanced co-operation model.

It allows for mobile operators with 5G networks to open up their network to host partner services, potentially allowing them to offer their customers the same type of services as they enjoy in their home network.

That said, home and visited operators must still need to have agreements in place to allow for this to happen.

Last year a report from 451 Research predicted that the advent of 5G will impact the entire IT industry and wider society, but a number of barriers could yet hinder its development.

It is widely expected that the first commercial 5G networks will go live in 2020, with Ericsson predicting there will be 150 million 5G subscriptions by 2021.

In the UK a government minister last year called for the UK to have a fully fibre network and 5G connectivity.

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