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Europe joins Asia in claiming (almost) real-world standalone 5G service

Europe joins Asia in claiming (almost) real-world standalone 5G service

Even as national telecommunications companies get louder with asterisk-crowded claims about their so-called 5G service, telecom infrastructure firms are sweating out tests of the real thing around the globe.

Siemens A.G. and Qualcomm Technologies Inc. recently debuted a joint 5G proof-of-concept at Siemens’ automotive test center in Nuremberg, Germany. The pair say they have demonstrated the world’s first private standalone network in an actual industrial setting using the 3.7GHz to 3.8GHz frequency band. Germany set aside that broadband spectrum for private networks.

Electronics-maker Siemens contributed automated-guided vehicles for use with wireless hardware-maker Qualcomm’s 5G test network 5G industrial test devices using Qualcomm-designed 5G technologies. The network uses a 5G core network and a matching base station.

Ongoing research will probe and evaluate OPC UA, Profinet and other industrial technologies.

Another milestone regarding standalone 5G service occurred recently.

South Korea’s SK Telecom has claimed it staged the world’s first multivendor standalone commercial 5G network data session. That session occurred on a commercial 5G network using Ericsson Inc. and Samsung Electronics equipment.

The call happened Jan. 16 over SK Telecom’s own commercial 5G network. Company executives say this success will lead to what they say will be the world’s first standalone-5G service, debuting in July. In a media statement, company executives said they were “standing on the threshold” of standalone-5G service offerings. No timeline was given.

There are a number of non-standalone 5G networks deployed, but they are actually updated 4G LTE systems that have 5G features. A standalone 5G network is not based on 4G infrastructure.

Full 5G networks will facilitate the rapid expansion in the numbers and capabilities of edge computing by opening up a much greater flow of data online.

SK Telecom used standalone New Radio-compliant software on non-standalone 5G base stations. New Radio is a network-access standard within 5G written to speed mobile broadband and make it more responsive. The company then did its own work to make the Ericsson and Samsung network equipment operate with each other.

Network slicing also played a part in the project, according to SK Telecom. A networking technique, network slicing provides support for various 5G services. Through it, engineers partition one physical network into multiple virtual mobile networks.

Mobile edge computing, or MEC, technology, used in creating the new network, offers a short cut for data transmission, minimizing latency. It calls for installing a small-scale data center at a 5G base station or router. The lower the latency, the better performance of autonomous vehicles, networked factories and gaming in the cloud.

Days before announcing their 5G breakthrough, they said they were launching the so-called Global MEC Task Force.”

Also part of the group are Singtel Group in Singapore, Globe in The Philippines, Taiwan Mobile and PCCW Global, a Hong Kong-based data and telecommunications firm.

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