European operators leap into 5G trials with Nokia, Qualcomm

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Deutsche Telekom, EE, Elisa, Telia and Vodafone Group are planning to verify and trial new 5G New Radio infrastructure and devices devised by Nokia and Qualcomm.

Nokia said it had completed interoperability testing in the 3.5GHz and 28GHz bands, which are in line with the recently completed 3GPP 5G NR Release 15 standard. Rival Ericsson completed interoperability testing with Qualcomm in wake of the standard being finalised.

Nokia and Qualcomm, which first announced a 5G partnership in September, used the vendor's AirScale base station and prototype devices built by the chipset maker at the former's centre of excellence in Oulu, Finland.

In addition to the European telcos, KT, LGU+, NTT DOCOMO, Optus and SK Telecom will also hold field trials of the hardware based on these interoperability tests.

Nokia said the field trials will help support commercial 5G network launches in 2019. Phil Twist, the vendor's Vice President of Portfolio Marketing, noted the trials would be useful for giving operators a fuller picture of how handsets will operate.

[Read more: Qualcomm cites investor scepticism as 5G stopping block]

Marc Rouanne, President of Mobile Networks, Nokia said: "These tests by Nokia and Qualcomm Technologies are important to the progress of 5G. Importantly, they demonstrate how we have quickly applied the 3GPP Release 15 specifications that were set in December...Now, we can look forward to commencing standards-based, over-the-air 5G NR trials with operators."

Cristiano Amon, President of Qualcomm Incorporated, said: "The successful completion of an end-to-end interoperable connection based on the global 5G NR standard is a significant step on the path to launching 5G NR commercial networks and devices starting in 2019.

"We look forward to further collaboration on standard-compliant field trials with Nokia and global operators on the path to commercialisation."

Last month Qualcomm announced it was working with a range of Chinese OEMS to launch 5G New Radio ready devices next year.