Major step for Europe as first 5G antennas debut in Berlin

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Deutsche Telekom have announced four 5G antennas in Berlin. Image: canadastock/Shutterstock

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The next generation of high-speed mobile technology is getting closer.

Europe’s first ultra-high-speed 5G antennas were tested yesterday (12 October), a major milestone in the future of mobile communications.

Four radio cells in the Deutsche Telekom network are the first in Europe with a live connection in a ‘real-world’ setting.

Deutsche Telekom reported speeds of more than 2Gbps to customer devices, while latency was a mere three milliseconds on commercial sites in the Schöneberg district of Berlin.

Advanced networks will enable the future of VR, AR and autonomous driving.

A decisive step for networks in Europe

Claudia Nemat, member of the management board responsible for technology and innovation at Deutsche Telekom, said: “We are demonstrating 5G live here, in the middle of Berlin, rather than in a lab. This is a very decisive developmental step on the way to the global launch of 5G, which is planned for 2020.

“If everything is connected to everything else, customers need a high-performance, reliable and secure network. Industry in particular will benefit from 5G as a powerful enabler for a wide range of applications. We are ready for 5G.”

Advanced techniques bringing greater efficiency

The new developments will bring mobile and fixed communications together, with software-controlled, end-to-end managed networks. 5G New Radio (5G NR) is the new air interface, working in combination with the evolving 4G and LTE technologies.

Using advanced antenna techniques known as massive MIMO (multiple input, multiple output), the number of antenna elements deployed at both the base station and in the subscriber device are increased, creating a more efficient frequency spectrum.

Deutsche Telekom CTO Bruno Jacobfeuerborn said: “As soon as the standard is defined and is available, we will proceed in 2018 to lay the foundation for large-scale build-out. This is how we are driving the technology development in Europe and demonstrate our innovation power.”

The Berlin antennas are manufactured by Huawei, and Deutsche Telekom is using the 3.7GHz frequency spectrum range for implementation of 5G NR.

This marks an exciting development for mobile connectivity in Europe, although it is still lagging behind Asia in terms of progress. Ericsson released a report yesterday that detailed how businesses are preparing for the future, including a massive increase in 5G trials in comparison to 2016’s figures.

Ellen Tannam is a writer covering all manner of business and tech subjects

editorial@siliconrepublic.com