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5G News: UK Spectrum Auctions and mmWave Trials

A round up of the latest news in 5G development, from spectrum auction clashes in the UK to the latest trial announcements from the US, Italy and Korea.

Ofcom's Spectrum Auction Cap

Ofcom, the UK's telecoms regulator caused a stir when it imposed a cap on the amount of spectrum in the 3.4GHz and 2.3GHz bands that each operator can win in its airwave auction. These bands are suitable for 5G usage and Ofcom are therefore promoting competition in the commercial launch of the next generation mobile network by ensuring no operator controls more than 37% of these spectrum bands. This is likely to limit the country's largest operators (EE and Vodaphone) in their 5G ambitions, but some think the cap does not go far enough. Three CEO Dave Dyson, who was looking for a 30% cap, called it “a kick in the teeth for all consumers.”

Three Zero Rates Content

Three also made headlines when they announced their new Go Binge tariff, allowing customers to stream unlimited content from Netflix, TV Player, SoundCloud and Deezer. Rivals Virgin Media zero-rated WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger on 4G tariffs last year. As content "bingeing" grows ever more popular, we may be seeing a glimpse here of what 5G pricing models will look like.

SK Telecom and Samsung Announce Trial Results

SK Telecom and Samsung announced they had successfully completed a trial to deliver a 5G end-to-end connection based on 5G New Radio (NR) technology, using the 3.5GHz spectrum. The trial took place in Suwon, South Korea, at Samsung's R&D center and achieved speeds over 1 Gbps and a low latency of 1.2 milliseconds.

Park Jin-hyo, Senior Vice President and Head of Network Technology R&D Center of SK Telecom said of their results, "SK Telecom has successfully acquired all the essential technologies necessary for 5G commercialization using 3.5GHz and 28GHz frequencies, made possible through joint efforts with Samsung. We will maintain our leadership in 5G by taking initiative in 5G NR standardization and commercialization."

AT&T Tests mmWave in Austin

AT&T began its second trial using millimeter wave (mmWave) technology to deliver "5G" internet connections in Austin, Texas. This follows last year's trial, which also took place in Austin. Over the next few months, AT&T will use Ericsson’s 5G RAN and Intel's 5G Mobile Trial Platform to enable streaming via DirecTV Now and faster broadband via a 5G fixed wireless signal.

“This trial, part of our long-term collaboration with AT&T that builds on the success of our first fixed wireless 5G Austin trial, provides the business and consumer participants a chance to experience the type of services and market opportunities they can expect in their daily lives with enhanced mobile broadband, ultra-fast speeds and reliable network capabilities,” said Sandra Rivera, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s Network Platforms Group and 5G executive sponsor. “Intel, AT&T and Ericsson’s work together, trialing early usages of 5G technologies and the experiences it will bring to businesses, demonstrates the importance of industry collaborations and need for seamless flow of data across the network, cloud and device to make 5G a reality.”

The First "5G Nation"

Telecom Italia (TIM) will test its 5G technolgy in the tiny nation of San Marino, giving it the world's first nationwide 5G network. Trials are sceduled to begin next year in the country which is home to just over 30,000 people. It will involve a newly installed network of small cells and almost double the number of mobile sites currently present in San Marino.

The EU's 5G Agreement

In a declaration signed in Tallinn, Estonia, EU members committed to establishing a common baseline for 5G standards. The declaration sets out a number of steps that EU members must take to encourage a fast roll-out of 5G services and make Europe a global leader in mobile networks. Details include coordination on frequencies across country borders and making more spectrum available for 5G.

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