5G pre-MWC, it’s all happening

It looks like 5G is actually going to move from being the up and coming topic at MWC, to forming much of the bulk of the discussion at the event itself.

Just this week we have seen:

1. Vodafone announce its 5G R&D partners. In a blog post, the company said it would be working with Huawei, Nokia, Ericsson, Intel and Qualcomm to evaluate technologies and work on standards submissions.

2. Ericsson announced that it had achieved a 25Gbps headline rate, using the 5G Radio Prototypes that are currently in field trials with NTT DoCoMo.Telefonica and Ericsson announced a 5G partnership which is in fact already in existence.

3. Meanwhile Huawei had a big number of its own – stating that it had achieved a 70Gbps throughput in demos held jointly with Deutsche Telekom at Mobile World Congess. Yes – that’s right, the release about a future event was written in the past tense. Clearly the demo is a fait accompli. DT also had a release on the demo, with technical details on the multi-beam forming tech that is inside the new antennas.

The Chinese vendor also brought another operator partnership to the table: this time with Telia Sonera, with the two companies partnering on 5G R&D.

4. Nokia is making 5G a key part of its messaging. It’s possible that its press conference on the Sunday is going to have a strong 5G flavour – with this trailer video promising us the “biggest thing you will ever see.

This release on a stateless VNF structure, where different VNFs operate from a Shared Data Layer, was also given a 5G spin.

5. ZTE is announcing a new pre-5G access product- essentially a beefed up backhaul product.

6. SK Telecom has said it will demo 20Gbps radio access, in partnership with Nokia and Intel, and may be bringing a hologram and VR application demo to the vent. (Last year Nokia and SKT demonstrated 25Gbps at the 70GHz frequency band.)

7. Ooredoo is another operator that has said it will have a 5G demo at the event. NOt many further details as yet, however.

8. Operators will be further represented with the NGMN, keen to keep its agenda-setting momentum in place, holding a press conference at which it will announce its future focus.

9. 5G-PPP will also be holding a press conference at the event, with several big hitters present, including the EU Digital Economy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger. The theme is “5G empowering verticals”.

The above list doesn’t contain, with the exception of the ZTE release, a host of releases that reference 5G in some way or other.

It’s also notable that many of the early concrete press releases are around air interface speeds. We are told that 5G is about a system change, with new core architectures, separation of control and data planes, virtualisation, automation and AI all contributing to a new 5G network. Faster speeds at the edge, enabled by new air interface technologies, are just part of that.

Of course, the new air interface is going to be a critical aspect of 5G, but it’s only an aspect. However, it’s sexier and easier to press release speeds like 70Gbps than get something punchy over about a new core architecture. Kudos to Nokia, then, for taking on the topic of abstracting state data from an application node – something that is crucial for the ability to scale nodes up and down in the network.


Of course, a year ago… we were writing something similar about 5G and MWC. The test this year will be to see how things have moved on, and in what areas. Where is there clarity, where is there doubt and uncertainty?