Deutsche Telekom has integrated 5G antennas into its commercial network in the city centre of Berlin, marking what it claimed is Europe’s first 5G data connection over a live network.
The deployment of six 5G antennas are Europe’s first to operate in real-world conditions, the German telecoms operator said.
The three cells in Leipziger Strasse and three in Winterfeldstrasse use the 5G New Radio (5G NR) standard for mobile 5G, and are the beginning of a planned 5G cluster in the city.
The cluster initially spans an area of five kilometres, with an additional 70 cells planned for te city by this summer across a total of more than 20 sites. The firm said it intends to construct a “major 5G testbed” in the city as it prepares for the technology’s deployment.
The successor to current mobile data networks is still largely undefined, but operators and technology providers are racing to establish a foothold for their vision of the tech ahead of competitors.
“We’re continuing on our strong preparation course for the rollout of 5G in 2020,” said Claudia Nemat, Deutsche Telekom’s board memberfor technology and innovation.
Telekom Deutschland chief technology officer Walter Goldenits said the deployment would form “the basis for our future commercial 5G rollout” in the country.
He said the new antennas, which operate under a test licence using the 3.7 GHz spectrum band, were for testing but are also “real elements of what will be our future 5G network”.
“We are preparing the ground so that our network will be ready when the first 5G-capable smartphones appear on the market,” he said.
The pre-commercial equipment is integrated into the live infrastructure and as such is linked to Deutsche Telekom’s existing 4G spectrum, allowing interconnection and field testing under real-world conditions.
The telco is using equipment, software and services from Huawei, based on 5G NR standards established only in December of last year.
Deutsche Telekom said the use of the sub-6 GHz band was well suited for use cases involving wide-area coverage, multi-gigabit throughput and low latencies.
The firm said it is using advanced antenna techniques to increase capacity and data rates over 4G, including Massive MIMO (multiple input, multiple output), which involves a greatly increased number of antenna elements in both base stations and subscriber devices such as smartphones.
The use of up to 64 elements per antenna improve coverage precision for each user, while the additional use of multi-user beamforming improves data transmission, which means greater efficiency, the telco said.
At the Mobile Wold Congress in Barcelona earlier this year Deutsche Telekom said it was on track to launch 5G commercial trials in Europe during 2018.
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