While mobile operators across the globe are prepping for 5G launches in the 2020 timeframe, China Mobile is the only one planning a commercial standalone 5G network launch at that time. The Chinese giant outlined its ambitious plans at MWC this week, including offering details on the trials it will launch this year.
China Mobile Communications Corp. plans to trial its standalone network in Shanghai, Hangzhou and three other cities with at least 100 basestations in each starting in the second quarter, Light Reading's Robert Clark reports from Barcelona. The trial networks will run primarily in the 3.5GHz band with some 4.9GHz deployed, and the focus will be on testing important 5G technologies like massive MIMO outdoor and network slicing.
Liu Guangyi, CTO for terminal and wireless technology at China Mobile Research Institution, said at the show that China Mobile would upgrade its software once the 5G standard is finished and then conduct tests for a pre-commercial system with plans to offer it to customers in the second half of next year.
Most wireless operators are targeting 5G launches that still rely heavily on LTE. This allows them to use the same equipment, have 4G for fallback and dramatically save costs. As Guangyi pointed out, standalone 5G requires an entirely new core network, requiring significantly more capex spend than a non-standalone network.
China Mobile's approach will be a good litmus test for the rest of the industry to see how it works technically, as well as from a return on investment perspective.
For more on the operator's plans and timeline, check out Clark's full report on Light Reading: China Mobile Confirms Aggressive 5G Standalone Plan.
— Sarah Thomas, Contributing Editor, Telco Transformation