Etisalat and SK Telecom boost 5G speed and 4G coexistence

As the 5G trials, and data rates, mount up, the latest breakthroughs come from Etisalat in the United Arab Emirates, and SK Telecom in South Korea.

Etisalat is claiming the fastest live trial of pre-standard 5G New Radio, reaching peak speeds of 71GBps at the region’s GITEX Technology Week. The test took place using 2 GHz of bandwidth in the E-band spectrum (70 GHz) as well as Massive MIMO.

Saeed AlZarouni, SVP of mobile networks, said in a statement: “Etisalat’s investments in the future will play a key role in bringing growth and innovation in the country and also laying the foundation for smart city development. Our field test today is a significant step in validating the performance of 5G in a high frequency band.”

The operator showed off potential 5G applications in healthcare, 4K video, ultra-high quality video and face recognition as well as robotic surgery and tactile internet.

Meanwhile, SK Telecom and Samsung said they had completed the world’s first trial of end-to-end interworking between 4G and 5G, in a real outdoor environment in capital Seoul. They used SK Telecom’s commercial LTE network in the 2.6 GHz band together with test 5G networks in 3.5 GHz and 28 GHz, linked by a virtualized core and a dual-mode prototype device.

The test involved live streaming of 360-degree virtual reality video between a user in a traveling car and another in SK Telecom’s headquarters building. This encountered the significant RF challenges of a dense urban environment plus high mobility.

“Users will be able to experience seamless communications service regardless of their location with 5G, in which the nationwide deployment of 4G will work together with base stations that support the 3.5 GHz band for wide coverage as well as the 28 GHz band for ultra-high speed transmission,” said Park Jin-hyo, head of the operator’s network technology R&D center.

The first 5G deployments will be led by operators with advanced 4G networks, so coexistence will be critical. “Interworking between 4G and 5G is a prerequisite for the early stage of 5G commercialization. Likewise, the interworking between 3G and 4G was the key driver to foster the 4G ecosystem and its commercialization,” said Dongsoo Park, head of the global sales and marketing team for Samsung Networks.

Another element of the trial was to design and test network slicing technology to ensure consistent quality across diverse services and across both access networks.