Vodafone completes pre-standard 5G trials on E2E test network

Vodafone 5G Village in Milan
Vodafone Group has completed the verification of the uplink and downlink decoupling solution based on the end-to-end 5G network, including RAN, core network and terminals.

Vodafone expects to launch 5G services in 2020, in telecom markets where it has appropriate spectrum.

Huawei said the pre-standard 5G trials in Milan, Italy, on an end-to-end (E2E) network of a technique will assist telecom operators to improve the range of spectrum to deliver 5G to its customers.

“This test of pre-standard 5G uplink and downlink decoupling will help us to deploy the technology efficiently to support our customers as soon as we launch services,” said Francisco Martin, head of Radio Product for Vodafone Group.

Italy’s Ministry for Economic Development has made frequencies available to Vodafone for conducting pre-standard 5G trials in Milan. Vodafone has built an E2E test network for the purpose of pre-standard 5G trials.

High frequency bands can connect many users at the same time, but broadcast over a more limited distance than lower frequencies. However, Vodafone, working with Huawei, has pioneered a new approach to improve the coverage range of that high frequency spectrum.

Instead of using a single frequency band to communicate between a smartphone and the network, the two telecoms companies tested using different frequency bands for downlink and uplink transmissions.

The downlink is used to receive data from the network – like news read on a smartphone – and the uplink is used to send data through the network – like emails or posts on social media.

The trials compared two scenarios using Vodafone’s 5G test network sending Gigabits of data. In scenario one, the same high frequency band was used for both the downlink and uplink. In scenario two, a high frequency band was used for the downlink, while a low frequency band was used for the uplink.

This capability — known technically as uplink & downlink decoupling — is being standardised by 3GPP.

Vodafone measured up to a 10 decibel coverage range improvement in the uplink when also utilising the low band. That means that using the technique, customers would get a stronger signal even in areas where 5G coverage is limited.

“Huawei will jointly work with industry partners and make 5G a global success,” said Yang Chaobin, president of Huawei 5G product line.