Telia shows off 5G at EU Digital Summit, promises city launches in 2018

Telia was the first operator in the world to deploy commercial 4G services, and it is in the vanguard in 5G too, claiming to be offering the first live public 5G network use cases in Europe.

The company’s Estonian subsidiary worked with Ericsson and Intel to build a trial network in capital Tallinn, to support the recent EU Digital Summit, including connectivity to a cruise ship in the city’s harbor. There was also an industrial use case demonstrated, featuring remote control of a construction excavator.

Telia delivered a simulated real life 5G environment for the Tallink shipping company in the Port of Tallinn, including support for WiFi access for 2,000 passengers throughout a cruise ship, as well as support for the vessel’s own IT systems – to investigate 5G usage in transport situations.

“Our work together trialling early usages of 5G technologies and the experiences it will bring to different industries, demonstrates the importance of collaboration and the need for seamless flow of data across the network, cloud and devices to make 5G a reality,” said Asha Keddy, general manager of Intel’s Next Generation and Standards Group.

These showcase networks, for special events, are the stuff of pre-standard one-upmanship (see also SK Telecom and KT ahead of the Seoul Winter Olympics). But Telia also says it aims to start offering full public 5G services in selected cities as early as 2018, which of course will mean using pre-standard network and devices, or a very early (and therefore expensive) commercial implementation of the fast-tracked 5G NR Non-Standalone specifications.

These will be finalized at the end of this year but are not expected to be in mainstream commercial kit until late 2018 (and certainly not in handsets – AT&T, which drove the accelerated approach to the non-standalone spec, will use it in 2018, but for fixed wireless).

Telia and Ericsson announced a joint roadmap last year, aiming to launch 5G in 2018 in Tallinn and Swedish capital Stockholm – two of the most digital cities in the world.

“We want to be early with 5G and will bring it to life in Stockholm, Tallinn and Helsinki in 2018,” said Gabriela Styf Sjöman, global head of networks at Telia. “It’s not only about building a new network but it’s also about building a new way of thinking and perceiving what a mobile network can be and can do. High speed, low latency, guaranteed capacity and truly mobile is going to push the boundaries of digitalisation and we want to be there pushing it together with our partners.”

The solution in Estonia consisted of an Ericsson 5G base station working with the Intel 5G Mobile Trial Platform, including mmWave connectivity.