T-Mobile Austria launches pre-5G in Innsbruck

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T-Mobile has introduced a pre-standard version of 5G to the Austrian city of Innsbruck in a first for the country.

Working with Huawei, the Deutsche Telekom-owned operator installed two radio cells in the city which transmit in the 3.7GHz range using specifications similar to 3GPP’s 5G New Radio (5G NR) standard.

The cells, which use fibre for backhaul, have delivered speeds of 2GBps and latency of 3ms.

T-Mobile is using a virtual reality (VR) demo to showcase the technology, with a 360-degree camera transmitting a feed of ultra-HD video to a set of VR goggles.

The operator has also demonstrated how a drone can be controlled using the network.

Rüdiger Köster, CTO of T-Mobile Austria, said: “We chose Innsbruck back in 2009 as the pioneering city for the fourth-generation mobile communication and rolled out the first test network of the then new technology LTE on air.

“Nine years later we are showing in Innsbruck the next evolutionary stage of mobile communication: 5G live in the city centre rather than in the laboratory. Our tests are a vital milestone toward rapidly rolling out 5G in Austria.”

Köster emphasised the importance of the country’s upcoming frequency auction in ensuring a fast rollout for 5G, calling for an auction design that “reduces complexity” and for national licenses with adjacent spectrum to be issued.

The Austrian auction of spectrum in the 3.4 to 3.8 GHz band, expected to be a key band offering both broad coverage and high bandwidth for 5G, is set to take place in autumn 2018.

Erich Manzer, Vice General Manager of Huawei Austria, said: “Huawei has been investing the lion’s share of its research capacities in developing 5G technology for many years now.

“Today, we are at the forefront of the field and are delighted to showcase ourselves as 5G pioneers together with T-Mobile. 5G supports significantly higher speeds than 4G, thus opening up brand-new opportunities as we move towards a super-networked world.”

Günther Platter, Governor of the local Tyrol region of Austria, said: “Our bandwidth initiative has laid the groundwork for building out the 5G network going forward. I am particularly pleased that Innsbruck will be a first pilot region. Looking ahead, Tyrol plans to launch a task force with all operators to further accelerate the 5G rollout.”

The 5G NR standard was ratified by 3GPP in December, allowing operators to push ahead with early trials and launches.