The current LTE communications standard is the fourth generation standard (4G). LTE is continually developing and can so far fully meet the requirements of consumers for ever greater bandwidth. The new 5G communications standard will not only offer significantly improved network capacity and higher speeds, but also lower latencies, greater reliability and security, and improved network flexibility for customized solutions. As a result, 5G will enable a host of applications in industry and the logistics sector that are not yet even conceivable by today’s standards.
Eight-point program for 5G development
In October 2018, Deutsche Telekom presented an eight-point program for developing a 5G network infrastructure. The goal: In Germany, we plan to cover 99 percent of the population and 90 percent of the country with 5G by 2025.
The further expansion of LTE/LTE Advanced contributes to the future 5G infrastructure, because LTE is the basis for 5G and will remain an integral part of it. There will be no standalone version of 5G at the start. Instead, in line with the standardization and development plans, parts of the implementation of 5G will initially be mapped in LTE. Implementing 5G is an evolution: Thanks to a fiber optic connection, the S-RAN (Single Radio Access Network) modernization currently underway, and new services such as LTE 900 or 4x4 MIMO, the more than 27,000 mobile sites in Germany will be ready, if they are not already, for the new standard and able to map initial 5G applications.
Step one: 5G test field in Berlin
Since May 2018, the first 5G antennas in Europe to fully support the new communications standard have been operating under real conditions in Deutsche Telekom’s network in downtown Berlin. The antennas are part of a 5G test field in the heart of the capital.
They are based on the future 5G standard for the non-standalone version of mobile communications component 5G New Radio (5G NR) - in other words, 5G networks based on 4G core network infrastructures. The standard was approved by the international standardization body 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) in December 2017. 5G NR is ideally suited for 5G applications using the medium frequency band below 6 GHz, which supports a good mixture of key characteristics, including broad coverage, high multigigabit range data throughput and low latencies in the order of just a few milliseconds. The antennas in Berlin are currently using the 3.7 GHz range under a test license. The licenses and frequencies issued by Germany’s Federal Network Agency will provide the basis for the 5G spectrum system and related planning in Germany in 2019.
To allow innovative developers to test their ideas for 5G in Berlin under real-world conditions, Deutsche Telekom has launched the 5G prototype program together with its start-up incubator hubraum.
In a world first, the Hamburg Port Authority, Deutsche Telekom, and Nokia are testing new aspects of the 5G standard using various applications in real-world industrial conditions at the Port of Hamburg in Germany. The around 8,000-hectare site has been a test field for testing the industrial capability of the future technology since January 2018: the transmission of movement and environmental data in real time, reliable traffic light controls, and virtual reality applications. The field test allows us to develop new and innovative solutions for industry, and serves as a basis for defining other aspects of the 5G standard.
The field test was also made possible by a new 5G installation on the Hamburg television tower. It was installed as part of the EU research project “5G-MoNArch”. The aim of the project is to test concepts for the 5G mobile architecture in practice.