With 5G now rapidly leaving the test lab and moving into the real world, with deployments accelerating especially around Europe, the question now remains what real benefits 5G will offer.
In an indication of such potential, comms tech providers Nokia and Qualcomm Technologies, along with Finnish operator Elisa, have achieved the world’s fastest 5G speeds on a commercial network in Finland.
The companies demonstrated delivering 8Gbps for the first time, achieved by utilising Nokia’s 5G mmWave technology and Qualcomm Technologies’ 5G smartphone form factor test devices over Elisa’s commercial 5G network.
The base station utilised two Nokia AirScale radios, each using 800MHz of commercial millimetre wave (mmWave) 5G spectrum at 26GHz. These provided connectivity to two 5G smartphone form factor test devices powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon X55 5G Modem-RF System featuring second-generation Qualcomm QTM525 mmWave antenna modules, with each device reaching 4Gbps peak speeds from the base station.
The ultra-high-speed mobile connection, which was showcased at Elisa’s flagship store in Helsinki, Finland, is designed to support and enable more high-bandwidth and latency-sensitive enterprise services, such as remotely controlled devices for industrial needs or mission-critical applications.
Such applications include a range of new low-latency, high-bandwidth services, such as high-speed video downloads, mission-critical or virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) applications. For example, such high-speed 5G could allow subscribers to enjoy VR/AR experiences like that offered to audiences in stadium concerts, downloading 4K video content or triple-A games in a matter of seconds. It could also enable enhanced capacity fixed wireless access connectivity as a fibre broadband alternative.
The move supports Elisa’s efforts to digitise Finnish society as a global leader in 5G services. Services offering such speeds are expected to be implemented in 2021.
“This is an important development and another step in our efforts to bring the fastest speeds and best 5G experiences to our customers,” said Elisa executive vice-president, production Sami Komulainen. “Elisa was the first in Finland and among the first in the world to deploy 5G. Reaching 8Gbps is a natural step in our 5G development and we want to explore the possibilities 5G offers and push the technology further to benefit our customers.”
Elisa, a long-time Nokia customer, announced in June 2020 that it had made substantial emissions and energy reductions through the use of Nokia’s liquid-cooling 5G AirScale base station system. The deployment of the cooling solution was said to be the world’s first deployment of the technology on a commercial basis for a 5G network and forms part of the Finnish mobile company’s stated ambition to go carbon neutral by the end of the year. Komulainen said that innovations such as Nokia’s liquid cooling 5G base station demonstrated how 5G can help drive sustainability as well as offer business benefits.
The announcement also comes hot on the heels of Qualcomm publishing research showing a potential 5G-related boom over the next 15 years despite the Covid-19 pandemic’s effects on the global economy. The study predicted a 10.8% net increase in global 5G investment compared with the 2019 forecast, and an increase in 5G-related jobs to 22.8 million by 2035.
“[The research] findings confirm what we are seeing in the market – strong momentum in both the deployment of and demand for 5G around the world,” said Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon. “Not only has 5G proven to be resilient in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, but it is also proving to be the technology at the heart of the digital transformation across industries.”
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