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SK Telecom plans 5G New Radio field trials with Ericsson and Qualcomm

Steve Rogerson
December 22, 2016
South Korean operator SK Telecom is to start interoperability testing and over-the-air field trials based on 5G New Radio (NR) standards in the second half of 2017, helped by Qualcomm Technologies and Ericsson.
The trials intend to drive the mobile ecosystem towards rapid validation and commercialisation of 5G NR technologies at scale, enabling timely commercial network launches based on 3GPP Rel-15 standard compliant 5G NR infrastructure and devices.
"As 5G rapidly gains momentum, a globally agreed and unified standard becomes imperative to achieve early commercialisation of 5G and build an efficient ecosystem around it," said Alex Jinsung Choi, chief technology officer at SK Telecom. "As 3GPP NR is a global 5G standard, we are delighted to announce early 3GPP NR trials with leading 5G players, Ericsson and Qualcomm, with which we have made remarkable world's first footprints in the past with previous generations of ground-breaking mobile technologies."
In the trials, the three companies will show 5G NR technologies that use wide bandwidths available at higher frequency bands to increase network capacity and achieve multi-gigabit per second data rates. These technologies will be critical to meeting the increasing consumer connectivity requirements for emerging consumer mobile broadband experiences such as virtual reality, augmented reality and connected cloud services.
Additionally, the proliferation of 5G NR technology can make it more cost-effective and easier for multi-gigabit internet service to reach more homes and businesses.
"As we did in both 3G and 4G, we are excited about collaborating with leading operators and industry stakeholders such as Ericsson and SK Telecom to accelerate the path to 5G," said Matt Grob, executive vice president and chief technology officer at Qualcomm Technologies. "The roadmap of 5G technologies is incredibly complex, and trials based on the global 3GPP 5G standard, such as this, are critical to continuing our long history of leadership integrating advanced wireless technologies in form-factor accurate devices to ensure timely deployment of 5G networks."
The trials will employ 3GPP 5G NR mimo antenna technology with adaptive beam-forming and beam tracking techniques to deliver robust and sustained mobile broadband communications at higher frequency bands, including non-line-of-sight environments and device mobility.
They will also make use of scalable OFDM-based waveforms and a flexible framework design that are also part of the 5G NR specifications. The trials are expected to yield insight into the challenges of integrating 5G NR technologies into mobile networks and devices.
"5G is the greatest opportunity our industry has ever experienced," said Ulf Ewaldsson, senior vice president and chief technology officer at Ericsson. “It will enable operators to move into new markets and build new revenue streams with radically new business models and use cases. This important 5G standard-based trial collaboration will demonstrate compliance to 3GPP and support the accelerated commercialisation of the global 3GPP 5G standard. On the road to 5G, Ericsson is working with leading operators and ecosystem players to enable innovative use cases on a global scale."
The interoperability testing and trials, which will launch in Korea starting in the second half of 2017, are intended to track closely with, as well as help accelerate, the first 3GPP 5G NR specification that will be part of Release 15 – the global 5G standard that will make use of both sub-6GHz and mm-wave spectrum bands.
Tracking the 3GPP specification is important because it promotes adherence and validation with the global 5G standard, accelerating the time to standard-compliant devices and infrastructure. It will also drive forward compatibility to future 3GPP 5G NR releases.