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BT enters the 5G arena, announcing research partnership with Nokia

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© BT

  • Collaboration on potential 5G customer use cases
  • Creation of 5G Proof of Concept trials
  • Focus on high frequency mmW radio and convergence
  • Nokia currently conducting trials of radio equipment at BT Labs

We are seeing it with NFV, and now the trend continues with 5G – telcos are not going to leave the development and standardisation of these crucial new technologies to vendors, they are determined to play leading roles themselves. Earlier this week, AT&T announced how it was actively collaborating with a number of other operators and vendors on 5G research and development, now it’s the turn of UK telco BT to assert its credentials.

Like AT&T, BT has a long track record in telecoms R&D. In fact, it was BT that first instigated the move into telco NFV. And now that it once again owns a cellular operator, EE, it has every incentive to be at the vanguard of 5D development – and it is choosing its partners with care.

BT has announced that it has signed a research collaboration agreement with Nokia on 5G technologies. The two companies have agreed to work together on potential customer use cases for 5G technologies, the creation of 5G Proof of Concept trials, and the development of the emerging technology standards and equipment. The trials will focus on the technology enablers for 5G including high frequency mmW radio and convergence, as well as potential commercial services including ultrafast mobile broadband, mission-critical services and the IoT.

According to the press statement, the two companies say they believe that 5G’s biggest potential is its ability to improve the flexibility and usability of mobile networks, allowing them to ‘flex’ to meet the specific needs of customers. This might include lower latency to support critical communications, or greater power efficiency and higher bandwidth usage for different applications. This flexibility leads to network slicing and the creation of new business models and consumer services.

“Our EE mobile business is set to cover 95 per cent of the country by 2020,” said Howard Watson, CEO of BT Technology, Service & Operations. “We will build on that foundation to develop the next generation of LTE-Advanced Pro and 5G services over the next few years. It’s still early days for 5G technology, but experience tells us that a collaborative approach is key to success.”

As a first step in the collaboration, Nokia is currently conducting trials of its latest 5G-ready radio equipment at the BT Labs at Adastral Park, Suffolk. This radio system demonstrates key 5G technology ingredients that are currently in standardisation running on Nokia’s AirScale radio access, including an entirely new 5G frame structure and 4 x 100MHz carrier aggregation.

“5G is the communications technology of the future, and it will transform how we communicate with each other, as well as communicate with devices and ‘things’,” said Cormac Whelan, head of the UK & Ireland business unit at Nokia. “Nokia is delighted to be working with BT in laying the foundations for 5G adoption in the coming years, and in helping define how this technology will enable exciting and innovative experiences.”

This latest agreement builds on the existing relationship between the two companies in which Nokia supplies BT’s 21C Core Routing Platform. BT has a long relationship with Alcatel-Lucent (since acquired by Nokia) and the telco’s world-renowned Labs at Adastral Park played a significant role in the development of wireless data services, and were the location for the first trials of GPRS.

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