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When the Olympic cauldron lights up at the PyeongChang Winter Games in South Korea next month, the athletes won’t be the only ones getting all the attention. Eyes will also be on how the world’s largest 5G showcase will pan out at the games, paving the way for the next leap in mobile connectivity.
In October 2017, chipmaker Intel said its 5G trial platform will be used by Korea Telecom to provide visitors and businesses at the Winter Olympics with wireless broadband at gigabit speeds, ultra-low latency video distribution and livestreamed immersive content.
“Putting our early 5G solutions in a real-world setting is necessary to learn how the various 5G technologies integrate into different types of businesses, what type of environments the technology performs best, and the interoperability between systems across the network, cloud and devices,” said Toh Wei Yeang, Asia market development director of datacentre group and network platform group at Intel Asia Pacific and Japan.
Specifically, Toh said the trials will enable Intel to glean insights on effects of weather and atmospheric conditions on millimeter wave spectrum that is used to achieve 5G access speeds, placement and directionality of 5G antennas and managing interference.
Besides conducting trials, Intel has been supporting telcos in their efforts to upgrade their backend infrastructure and adopt network function virtualisation (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN) to deliver 5G services.
“Intel is a leader in NFV/SDN, which is of critical importance to the 5G future,” Toh said. “Using Intel Architecture-based solutions, service providers have been kicking off their network transformation initiatives by transitioning to a virtualised, software-defined infrastructure utilising open standards while focusing on key areas needed to evolve their business.”
Meanwhile, Nokia, which is also participating in the PyeongChang showcase, has worked closely with telecom operators to migrate existing infrastructure to 5G networks.
It has introduced new technologies and enhancements to existing platforms that will help bridge existing 4G/LTE infrastructure to a 5G world and, at the same time, increase network speeds and data capacity while lowering latency.
“We have already introduced 5G-ready technologies in our commercial solutions, which support today’s LTE-Advanced and the upcoming LTE-Advanced Pro/Pro II, so that telcos can smartly bridge their networks to 5G when the time comes,” said Brian Cho, head of technology at Nokia Asia-Pacific and Japan.
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- Adoption of 5G across the Asia-Pacific region will be led by China, South Korea and Japan, but telcos will need to find the right pricing strategy to compete with IoT connectivity upstarts.
- Singapore telco Singtel is enhancing its LTE-Advanced network in phases this year in the run-up to the expected launch of 5G networks in the country by 2020.
- The Singapore government will be waiving the frequency fees for 5G trials in a bid to lower regulatory barriers and encourage the industry to test the next-generation mobile technology.
- China and India will account for nearly half of all new mobile subscribers worldwide by the end of the decade, according to a study by the GSMA.
Elsewhere in Asia, Singapore has been paving the way for 5G services to support its smart nation vision. “Last year, we undertook Singapore’s first commercial narrowband IoT and heterogeneous network deployment through our partnership with M1. We also worked with StarHub on 5G demonstrations to achieve 4.3Gbps speeds through 5G trials,” Cho said.
In Japan, Nokia is developing a 5G ecosystem with Japanese operator NTT Docomo to prepare the country’s next-generation wireless network. With KDDI, Nokia conducted a field trial to provide high-speed, one gigabit-per-second connectivity inside an apartment block using radio technology that operates on the 28GHz band.
“In the coming year, we will be commencing the trial of 5G technology in a densely popular city in Japan together with Softbank to prepare for 5G commercial readiness,” Cho said.
In South Korea, Nokia has also successfully hit a low latency rate of two milliseconds in a demonstration with SK Telecom. Cho said this will facilitate the development of real-time services, such as autonomous driving, augmented reality and virtual reality services.
According to a study by the GSM Association, advanced operators in Asia are set to become among the first in the world to launch commercial 5G networks before the end of the decade.
By 2025, 5G connections – excluding those that connect internet of things (IoT) devices – are forecast to reach 670 million, accounting for under 60% of global 5G connections.