I just got back from the giant Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona, and the main impression I took away was that the 5G future is arriving fast, with momentum building for the first rollouts of new services and devices later this year. The delivery of these new solutions is happening much more rapidly than many in the industry predicted just one year ago, at MWC 2017. One of the main reasons for this is that the 3GPP industry group formalized the first set of standards for 5G in December 2017. This was key to enabling network equipment and component manufacturers to start building equipment, and for telcos to start conducting tests.
Another key contributing factor was the successful commercial debut of 5G at the recent Winter Olympics in South Korea. The games featured a range of advanced applications, from driverless buses using 5G links to navigate, to live 4K video streaming of key events. The result is that MWC 2018 saw leading mobile network operators including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon all announcing firm timetables for commercial 5G rollouts in the U.S. over the next 18 months. China Mobile and Japan’s NTT Docomo stated that they are targeting 2020 for their 5G launches.
Further innovations were announced by chip and device manufacturers: Huawei unveiled what it claims to be the first commercially available 5G chipsets, ready for use in a range of products and applications; and Intel has partnered with PC makers to develop 5G-enabled laptops for 2019.
Putting 5G to the test
And with 3GPP set to announce a second set of standards in the summer, the 5G wave is rising fast. Exciting times, but this acceleration towards pervasive 5G also means the industry is facing a range of complex challenges in order to realize the technology’s full potential, and make it truly successful. As the vast array of new services and products are being developed ready for market, they will need rigorous testing to ensure they meet both current and emerging industry standards, and deliver the performance expected of them.
That’s why MWC 2018 was a milestone event for Keysight, as we showcased several industry firsts, including the first 5G New Radio (NR)-ready device workflow solution, the world’s first 5G packet core high-scale network test solution, and advanced cloud and analytics capabilities to accelerate 5G NR testing of components and network equipment. It was also exciting to see our technologies showcased in leading 5G innovators’ booths. Qualcomm showcased 4 Gbps data rate with 5G @ 28 GHz frequencies using our network emulation solutions (NES).
We also announced a collaboration with Samsung Electronics to enable design and deployment of 5G devices to support early operator trials, and conducted interoperability demonstrations with Datang Mobile.
By offering complete end-to-end 5G test solutions, we’re giving the industry the flexibility and scope to deal with thousands of different configurations and test scenarios: from enabling mobile operators to gain insights into and validate the capabilities of their entire ecosystems, to helping device and chipset manufacturers speed up their 5G product development cycles and gain a winning advantage in the market.
Find out more about our comprehensive range of test solutions and capabilities for the entire 5G lifecycle here.