AIS, vivo trial SA 5G in Thailand
In collaboration with Thai mobile network carrier AIS, Chinese smartphone manufacturer vivo has conducted its first trial of a standalone (SA) 5G network outside of mainland China.
One of vivo’s new V21 5G smartphones was used as the basis of a series of tests carried out in a densely populated area of Bangkok. AIS and vivo said in a statement to the press that the trial “achieved stellar results by attaining an impressive high speed of connectivity.”
"vivo is honored to be among the first mobile device providers that is participating in the commercialization of Thailand's 5G SA networks with AIS,” commented vivo’s 5G Standards Expert, Tamrakar Rakesh.
The Thai market has surged ahead in terms of SA 5G adoption in the past year, and its SA 5G infrastructure currently outpaces other leading 5G markets, including the UK, South Korea, and parts of the Middle East. AIS has already begin deploying its own SA 5G hotspots throughout the country.
SA 5G adoption is gaining traction across multiple markets - with South Korean telecom operator KT recently launching its own commercial 5G network in collaboration with Samsung. An SA 5G network operates on an independent 5G network core, unlike 5G Non-Standalone (5G NSA), which is overlaid on an existing 4G network core. Most of the early adopters of 5G essentially piggybacked their 5G capabilities on the back of their existing 4G networks in order to accelerate their go to market speeds, and the style of architecture remains prevalent in Japan and South Korea.
The US, UK, and Thailand have all been more heavily committed to SA 5G from the get go, although this hasn’t necessarily translated into superior network quality as both NSA and SA 5G networks have ironed out their various kinks and addressed teething problems over the past year.
Thailand (along with the Philippines) already experienced one of the largest improvements in customer experience between its 4G and 5G networks, with a report by Opensignal released in February finding that the country saw 5G download speeds that were 13.4 times faster, on average, than the 4G download speeds available in the country.
Following the release of the report, Opensignal analysis team lead Ian Fogg notes that “In 2021, more operators hope to launch 5G on additional frequency bands, more operators intend to add extremely fast mmWave-based 5G, and more operators seek to launch newer versions of the 5G standard and offer users a fully 5G experience by shifting from non-standalone access (NSA) to standalone (SA) 5G.”
Verizon, Samsung complete 5G data session on C-band spectrum
U.S telecom Verizon, in partnership with Samsung Electronics, has completed a trial of a 5G data session over the C-band spectrum. The test was conducted in a live network environment using cloud-native, end-to-end virtualisation in preparation for Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband expansion.
Adam Koeppe, Senior Vice President of Technology Planning at Verizon, said: “We have been driving the industry to large-scale virtualisation using the advanced architecture we have built into our network from the core to the far edge. This recent accomplishment paves the way for a more programmable, efficient, and scalable 5G network. “Customers deserve more than mere access to 5G. They deserve 5G built with the highest, gold-standard engineering practices that have positioned Verizon as the most reliable industry leader for years.”
The importance of virtualisation in optimising 5G network performance
According to Samsung, Virtualisation plays a vital role in delivering advanced 5G network services. This is due to 5G use cases such as IoT solutions, more robust consumer devices and solutions, AR/VR, remote healthcare, autonomous robotics in manufacturing environments, and ubiquitous smart city solutions, becoming more dependant on the programmability of virtualised networks.
Pleased with the result of the trial, Junehee Lee, Executive Vice President and Head of R&D, Networks Business at Samsung Electronics, said: “We’re proud to mark another milestone following our first large-scale commercial 5G vRAN deployment for Verizon, which is currently servicing millions of users. This trial reinforces our commitment to helping operators evolve their advanced 5G networks.”
The trials used Samsung’s fully virtualized RAN (vRAN) solution built on its own software stack and C-band 64T64R Massive MIMO radio in coordination with Verizon’s virtualized core. “The trials achieved speeds commensurate with traditional hardware-based equipment,” the companies said.
Verizon claims that cloud-native, virtualised architecture provides greater flexibility aster delivery of services, greater scalability, and improved cost efficiency in networks”, allowing it to lead the way in network slicing and wide-scale mobile edge computing.
The technology also enables Verizon to respond quickly to customer’s latency and computing needs. Virtualisation aims to lower the entry barrier for new vendors in the ecosystem while entrants will be able to accelerate innovation and reduce operating costs, the companies said.
Verizon is planning to make the 5G C-band spectrum initially available to 46 markets by the first quarter of 2022, and provide the Ultra-Wideband service to 100mn people. Throughout the next two years, the company expects coverage to increase to 175mn people before reaching 250mn by the end of 2024.