Altice, a telecom operator in Portugal, has conducted 5G network trial in association with Huawei.
The first demonstration of the 5G mobile technology used a prototype Huawei router and achieved a speed of 1.5 gigabytes per second.
5G devices are expected to be commercially available in Portugal in other European telecom markets in 2019 or 2020. Regular mobile phone users are unlikely to have access to the 5G technology before 2021 or 2022.
Wireless operators in the United States are likely to launch the first commercial 5G projects this year. Japan and South Korea are expected to kick off 5G mobile services in 2019. China may launch 5G in 2020. India is also gearing for 5G in 2020 or later.
“I believe that the Portuguese market will be one of the first globally to be able to use this (5G) technology,” said Alexandre Fonseca, CEO of Altice Portugal.
Providers across Europe are also working to roll out services. Vodafone, whose Portuguese unit competes with Altice Portugal, said last month it will begin testing 5G mobile networks in seven of Britain’s 10 largest cities later in 2018, before starting limited deployments in some markets next year.
In Italy, communications regulator AGCOM said the government would auction frequencies for 5G mobile services in September.
Dutch-based Altice purchased the assets of former telecoms monopoly Portugal Telecom in 2015. Altice’s fiber networks, which will help deliver the 5G service, cover 4.3 million homes in Portugal out of the total of 5.3 million, and Altice expects to cover the remainder by early 2020, Reuters reported.
“This is extraordinary and does not happen in other European countries, such as Germany,” said Chris Lu, head of Huawei in Portugal. He projects that his company will develop a 5G smartphone prototype by next year or in 2020.
Industry analysts expect 5G upgrades to kick in next decade for faster phones, fixed wireless video and new industrial business uses. So far, there has been no clear game-changing device or service to emerge to drive 5G network demand.