- Coronavirus outbreak-led surge in remote working, e-learning and e-commerce has created the need for more robust technologies such as 5G.
- 5G is expected to witness transition from a non-standalone version to a standalone version.
- Standalone version will provide low latency, enabling support to real time applications such as M2M communications and IoT. Moreover, it will aid operators in network slicing.
- Globally, US noted 2019 as a period of light up year for 5G by big players including T-Mobile and Verizon. However, players such as GCI and U.S. Cellular welcomed 5G in 2020.
- Leading sector players in Australia are entering partnerships for 5G technology deployment such as Telstra teamed up with Ericsson to deploy standalone network and Vodafone Hutchison Australia collaborated with Nokia to deploy a low band 5G spectrum.
Technology has evolved into a saviour amid the COVID-19 crisis. Causing disruption in several ways to our world, the outbreak has shifted almost everything online from places of work to education. Being worried about the risks of getting infected, people are staying at home and relying on their home broadband network to connect with the outside world.
With all advancements in place, we now realise that technology lies at the base of the pyramid of all sectors and can boost the economy.
COVID-19 pandemic is a huge, but not unconquerable challenge for the industry. Right!
Moreover, the pandemic might be stimulant for 5G that the world requires in light with lockdown and social distancing norms.
Did you read: Is 2020 the year for 5G amid COVID-19?
There are numerous questions that arise on the top of COVID-19 such as can our current networks handle the strain? Will COVID-19 become the use case in future for more advanced and robust 5G technologies, requiring low latency or interaction with humans at more than an arm’s length?
Telecom operators bolster 5G as a major step upward on the ladder of growth, bowing in new use cases such as autonomous vehicles, robotic surgeries, and smart buildings. Moreover, telecom operators across the world have been facing a test; whether they have the capability to handle this increased traffic on their current network.
5G Trial Conducted by Nokia in C-band Spectrum in the US - Nokia on 19 June 2020 announced to have completed an array of Over-the-Air 5G trials in C-band spectrum, in Dallas, Texas. The trial noted a throughput speed of over 1 Gbps via utilising 100 MHz of spectrum at 3.75 GHz. Furthermore, the Company confirmed that it is ready for commercial deployment before the auction of C-band spectrum in December 2020 in the US.
5G began rolling out in 2019; however, 2020 seems to be the transiting year for the technology.
Most of the telecom operators across the globe embraced the roll out of 5G services using the Non-Standalone (NSA) version of the 5G New Radio (NR) standard, which uses Long Term Evolution or LTE in the core network, enabling operators to pace up the goal of launching 5G services.
The transition to 5G or the next-generation mobile technology will be witnessed with the deployment of 5G Standalone (SA) networks.
But the question is what these Standalone Networks in 5G are?
While NSA 5G shares the existing core network infrastructure with 4G, the standalone version does not rely on LTE/4G.
Standalone 5G is devised to boost 5G performance, providing lower latency in comparison with the non-standalone approach, thereby enabling support to real-time and near-real-time applications such as autonomous vehicles and AR/VR.
Standalone 5G will also support network slicing, which involves splitting network resources into logical or virtual networks, known as slices. These slices address use cases with definite characteristics and service level agreement (SLA) requirements, wherein a slice with a strong SLA for throughput, latency and reliability might be used to support the unique needs of robotic automation or much more.
Globally, there are numerous telecom players embracing 5G such as Telstra in Australia, which has teamed up with Ericsson to facilitate its 5G standalone products, highlighting the ability of Telstra to run 5G network independently of its 4G network.
Telstra was the first communications service provider in its home market and one of the first, globally, to reach the 5G end-to-end standalone capability milestone, according to Telstra’s Group Executive Networks & IT, Nikos Katinakis.
Early last month, Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) and Nokia teamed up to deploy low-band NR 700MHz spectrum in a field test environment in a 5G network in Australia, further, enhancing customer experience by complementing the 3.5 GHz deployment.
Globally, there are several other countries that are building and deploying the 5G technology. Let us enrich ourselves with few of the US telecom operators.
Verizon officially launched its first 5G ultra-wideband mobile network in April 2019 in two cities, namely Chicago and Minneapolis. This launch was followed by a stream of availability of 5G in various other cities in the US throughout 2019 and 2020 such as Denver, St. Paul, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C.
Further, Verizon is operating seven 5G Virtual Labs in the US and the UK, accelerating the 5G innovation. The virtual lab concept is for a physical space creation with the idea to expedite the partnership needed to use 5G to solve the numerous, critical challenges that society is facing today. Moreover, the space can be used to host virtual conferences, demo new solutions, host brainstorming sessions and much more.
T-Mobile first lit up US cities with its 5G network using the 600 MHz spectrum in late-2019. It is believed that with Sprint, T-Mobile will supercharge 5G, with a broader and deeper network.
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Furthermore, T-Mobile has partnered with industry leaders such as Cisco, Ericsson, Nokia, MediaTek, Qualcomm and OnePlus, achieving several world’s first milestones for standalone architecture (SA) 5G.
Though U.S. Cellular is smaller in terms of coverage area and customer base, it is keeping up with larger operators like T-Mobile and Verizon, rolling out its 5G services to the eastern Iowa customers in March 2020.
In partnership with Ericsson, GCI also turned up its first 5G cell sites in April 2020 in Alaska. Furthermore, GCI, working closely with Ericsson, is now directing all its efforts to drive and complete the upgrade plan of its 2020 cell site throughout Anchorage.
One can expect the tables to turn around soon and gradually witness a substantial increase in 5G connections with the transition of operators towards the standalone 5G network.