Deutsche Telekom launches 5G testbed on commercial network in Berlin

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Deutsche Telekom has launched a pre-standard 5G network in central Berlin to drive testing ahead of the technology's official specification.

The trial in the 3.7GHz spectrum band, powered by Huawei hardware and software, has demonstrated speeds of over 2GBps and latency of 3ms.

The technology is active on Deutsche Telekom’s commercial network in Germany’s capital, using specifications for non-standalone 5G that mirror the official 3GPP standard, which set to be finalised in 2018. Non-standalone 5G uses LTE as a base, supplemented by 5G carriers providing higher data rates and lower latency.

Currently the technology is activated at one cell site, although the operator will extend the setup ahead of its 5G experience day in October. Deutsche Telekom is currently unable to extend the demo beyond Berlin as availability of the hardware is limited.

The goal is to establish a live testbed for partners and customers to trial 5G applications ahead of standardisation and the availability of compatible handsets.

Deutsche Telekom CTO Bruno Jacobfeuerborn, said: “With this real-world achievement, Deutsche Telekom is making its first important step towards a 5G network launch.

“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.”

Claudia Nemat, Deutsche Telekom Board member for Technology and Innovation, added: “5G new radio will be critical for meeting our customers’ ever-increasing connectivity requirements that are steadily growing with more and more network connections.

“Our achievement demonstrates the feasibility of our plans to deliver a superior, new customer experience.”

Huimin Zhu, Vice President of 5G at Huawei, said: “These achievements highlight the capabilities of the 5G NR equipment to meet operators’ requirements for addressing new business opportunities for end users."

The 3GPP RAN working group agreed on an intermediate milestone in March for non-standalone 5G New Radio (NR) standards to allow testing of 5G mobile broadband use cases as early as 2019.

These decisions come ahead of the IMT-2020 conference in 2020, which will determine the official specifications for 5G. 3GPP, which created the standards for 3G and 4G, will define the standard technology.

In July, Telia and Nokia collaborated on a trial that combined 4G and 5G.