5G moves out of the lab to the field

Telia Company has performed the first European field tests of 5G-technology in Stockholm together with partner Ericsson. The first customers will experience 5G services in 2018 in the Swedish capital and in Tallinn.

When the grey bus carrying the measuring equipment, slowly starts rolling, Mats Svärdh, Vice President Networks and IT Infrastructure at Telia Company, closely monitors the different screens that reveal the throughput from the connecting points in northern Stockholm.

Technicians have measured a maximum throughput of 15 gigabits per user in the field trial compared to a maximum throughput of 150 to 450 megabits per user in today’s 4G networks.

High speed, low delay
“Today is an important day because this is the first time we move the 5G technology out of the lab to the streets. We have a real set-up of a network here which enables us to start demonstrating really high speeds in a real environment," Svärdh says.

5G technology is not only about increased speed but also about cutting delays, or latencies. "We experience some difficulties in delivering really short latencies. They are important because you need to have short latencies in order to fully support services such as virtual reality, augmented reality or self-driving cars."

Technicians have measured a latency below three milliseconds in the field trial which a massive improvement compared to today.

Digitalized society
Why is 5G important for Telia Company? “Because it is important for our customers. Our entire society is being digitalized and Telia's customers are entering a new era with completely different demands and requirements. We need to provide them with new communication solutions to enable this journey. Augmented reality and self-driving cars are only two examples of services requiring 5G,” Svärdh explains.

Advanced cities
When will Telia Company's customers be able use 5G services? “We will have real use cases implemented in Stockholm and Tallinn by 2018. These cities are very advanced and forward leaning when it comes to digitalization and communication solutions so they are very suitable to do trials and launch services in. At first, 5G will not be available to everyone but in specific areas and for specific use cases.”

In January 2016 Telia Company and Ericsson entered into a strategic partnership to let customers in Stockholm and Tallinn experience 5G services in 2018. The two companies are developing 5G use-cases and service scenarios, including both communication and Internet of Things (IoT) services with the purpose to address new business opportunities.