BT, Nokia team to boost 5G SA capabilities to meet future demand

Offering a boost in performance for its future 5G standalone network, leading UK telco teams with comms tech provider to demonstrate enhanced 5G SA uplink performance through aggregation of two spectrum carriers

To support growing customer use-cases, BT and Nokia have announced the successful uplink aggregation of two carrier components in a 5G Standalone (SA) live network spectrum.

Explaining the rationale for their work, the two companies noted that carrier aggregation (CA) is an important technique for ensuring reliability and high performance as demand and data usage continue to increase.

Further benefits include the maximisation of spectrum assets and greater energy efficiency. In particular, they stressed that 5G Carrier Aggregation over a 5G SA network, which combines several transmission bands into one connection, is a key capability to deliver the high-performance 5G service that customers expect.

They emphasised that every new carrier added allows for higher capacity and speed directly to customer devices.

Just over a year ago, BT and Nokia claimed a breakthrough for 5G SA 4CC CA downlink. Now, by achieving both 5G SA 2CC CA uplink and 4CC CA downlink simultaneously, BT said it can deliver significant uplift in connection performance from the device to the network by increasing throughput and capacity, as well as unlocking scope to push uplink performance further in the future.

The tests were conducted at BT Group’s facility in UK-based Adastral Park using Nokia’s 5G AirScale portfolio and a device powered by a Snapdragon 5G Modem-RF System from Qualcomm Technologies, following initial lab-based trials.

The partners said they achieved speeds of over 230 Mbps in the uplink – including the wider 5G FDD carrier at 40 MHz in 2600 MHz – as well as over 1 Gbps in the downlink.

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BT Group said the work is part of an effort to ensure that, when 5G SA services are launched on its EE network, it maintains the leadership it has in 5G as indicated in the latest UK mobile performance review by RootMetrics.

“Carrier aggregation will be key to delivering the very best 5G experience to our customers, with this latest trial in partnership with Nokia demonstrating significant performance increases in terms of uplink speeds,” said Greg McCall, chief networks officer at BT Group. “This builds on last year’s success of achieving 4CA in 5G SA downlink, and we look forward to achieving further milestones in this space as we continue to progress towards 5G SA.”

“This successful trial with our long-standing partner, BT, [shows] multi-component carrier aggregation helps mobile operators to maximise their radio network assets and provide the highest 5G data rates to subscribers in more locations,” added Mark Atkinson, senior vice-president of radio access networks PLM at Nokia.

“2CC uplink carrier aggregation is expected to improve uplink speeds by up to 2x, to give a better user experience overall,” said Enrico Salvatori, senior vice-president and president of Qualcomm Europe/MEA at Qualcomm Europe.

“Consumers would potentially be able to upload and share higher quality videos faster online, such as when attending concerts and when watching and streaming games online. We look forward to the future and what else is to come with our continued collaboration with BT.”

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