Nokia claims US live C-band network demo first

Ahead of the expected US spectrum auction in December 2020, Nokia completes first successful US-based 5G trial in C-band

Nokia has declared a successful series of over-the-air (OTA) 5G NR (new radio) trials in C-band spectrum in the US.

It aims to cash in on the decision of the US communications regulator to hold a public auction of a section of the country’s C-band wireless spectrum to hasten the roll-out and development of 5G services.

The drive tests achieved stable peak throughput speeds of over 1Gbps, said Nokia, which showed that its solution was ready for commercial deployment ahead of the US C-band spectrum auction in December.

The C-band, between 3.4GHz and 4.2GHz, is a crucial resource for operators to offer a mix of 5G network capacity and coverage to subscribers across the US, especially when combined with already-deployed network infrastructure and spectrum bands via TDD/FDD carrier aggregation and other interworking features.

The US telecoms regulator has been engaged in an ongoing programme to formulate rule-making related to spectrum in the 3.7-4.2GHz band, widely seen as a critical in driving the development of 5G wireless connectivity through the country.

The decision in November 2019 to go for a public auction was said to be based on four principles: making available a significant amount of C-band spectrum for 5G; making C-band spectrum available for 5G quickly; generating revenue for the federal government; and protecting the services that are currently delivered using the C-band, so they can continue to be delivered to the US public.

Nokia’s demonstration was performed in Dallas’ Cypress Waters district utilising 100MHz of spectrum at 3.75GHz with a 4x4 MIMO and configuration in non-standalone (NSA) mode combined with Nokia’s core network. During drive testing, Nokia monitored network performance and demonstrated that the “handovers” successfully happened between C-band base stations as expected.

The connection and performance was deemed as stable throughout the test, highlighting the robustness of the system and its readiness for commercial implementation. The test was also based on Nokia’s AirScale 5G base station equipment, a commercial end-to-end 5G solution enabling global operators to optimise 5G spectrum assets from 600MHz to 39GHz.

It is designed to offer capacity, scaling, latency and connectivity enhancements by enabling all air-interface technologies on the same radio access equipment.

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“The mobile industry is dependent on the allocation of new spectrum to increase capacity and deliver enhanced mobile broadband services,” said Tommi Uitto, Nokia president of mobile networks. “This test, in the C-band, is significant because it proves that we have a solution ready to go following the completion of the spectrum auctions in the US later this year.

“We are already working with all major US carriers and look forward to strengthening our relationship with them further by deploying C-band and delivering incredible 5G experiences to business and subscribers across the country.”

Nokia has achieved 5G speeds of up to 4.7Gbps in OTA tests performed on AirScale base station equipment being deployed in major US carriers’ commercial networks. Also, it recently revealed that it is working with leading Japanese mobile operator KDDI on a proof of concept of a fully virtualised cloud 5G radio access network (RAN).

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