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Nokia, Qualcomm and UScellular claim 5G mmWave range record

Consortium of leading mobile technology firms claim range milestone for mmWave next-generation networks

Nokia, Qualcomm Technologies and UScellular have announced that they have achieved a world record extended range of more than 10km using 5G extended-range mmWave technology on a commercial network.

And after proclaiming 5G a commercial reality with 200 million connections by the end of 2020, global mobile operators’ trade body the GSMA warned its members in January 2021 that if they underestimate the role of mmWave in the short term, they risk finding themselves at a disadvantage to competitors when offering 5G services.

Nokia, Qualcomm and UScellular say the fruits of their work and the milestone achieved in 5G mmWave will pave the way to bring extended-range 5G service with massive capacity and low latency to even more regions across the US, including rural areas.

The field trial, which used Nokia’s AirScale Baseband and 5G mmWave radios in the 28GHz (n261) band, was conducted on UScellular’s commercial network in Grand Island, Nebraska. The companies jointly tested multiple locations with different scenarios, measuring distance, throughput and latency.

The milestone was achieved at what was said to be a world record distance of about 10km with average downlink speeds in the region of 1Gbps, and uplink speeds reaching about 57Mbps. Also, line-of-sight testing at a distance of 11.14km saw a downlink speed of 748Mbps and an uplink speed of 56.78Mbps.

The partners believe that 5G mmWave technology will help to close the “digital divide” and offer “extreme” capacity throughout rural, suburban and urban areas. Nokia and Qualcomm said their respective 5G extended-range mmWave system and fixed wireless access (FWA) enable mobile operators such as UScellular to address the connectivity gap in communities that previously were not serviced or may not have an adequate internet connection.

They proposed FWA as a candidate technology to deliver fast broadband speeds on a cost-effective basis, providing “last mile” access especially in rural areas, providing much-needed connectivity to schools, hospitals and other anchor institutions.

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“This successful collaboration represents another significant milestone for 5G mmWave aiming to close the ‘connectivity divide’ and expand broadband services to rural, suburban and urban communities,” said Juho Sarvikas, vice-president and president, North America at Qualcomm Technologies. “Qualcomm Technologies is at the forefront of driving the next generation of wireless connectivity and with this milestone we are empowering operators and OEMs to offer cost-efficient, high-performance, extended-range, multi-gigabit 5G broadband connectivity to consumers.”

Mike Irizarry, executive vice-president and chief technology officer at UScellular, added: “These latest trial results reinforce the important role that fast, reliable wireless service plays in keeping people connected, no matter where they live or work. With 5G mmWave technology from companies like Nokia and Qualcomm Technologies, we can provide our customers with the leading-edge capabilities of high-performance, ultra-low latency 5G and offer an even wider range of communications services to enhance their wireless experience.”

In January 2021, Nokia revealed that it had successfully piloted 4G and 5G FWA network slicing with Saudi Arabian telecommunications services provider Mobily on its live commercial network. More recently, it inked a deal with Nokia and UScellular to add 5G mmWave capabilities in the 24GHz and 28GHz spectrum bands, with UScellular deploying Nokia’s AirScale portfolio, with Cloud RAN capabilities, to provide enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) 5G mmWave.

Speaking about the project with Qualcomm and UScellular, Tommi Uitto, president of mobile networks at Nokia, said: “These results demonstrate what 5G mmWave will bring to consumers, enterprises and industries. By extending the distance for 5G mmWave technology without sacrificing speed or latency, we will deliver an incredible 5G experience to even more areas.

“We are proud to work with our partners on this important and significant achievement. This is another milestone in the development of 5G services and demonstrates the capacity of our commercially deployed 5G solutions.” 

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