5G announcements come thick and fast as telcos, vendors and policymakers race towards the next generation of mobile technology

Go on, admit it, you thought this piece was going to be about football, didn’t you? With England fans getting a taste of what it’s like to be Brazilian (well, it’s hot and we’re still in the World Cup…although how long either of those things will last is anyone’s guess) and your substitute editor typing furiously before the first quarter-final match kicks off, this had a footy column written all over it.

But no. For once we resist the lure of the beautiful game and look beyond next Sunday’s trophy presentation to an equally enticing – and expensive – prize: the fifth generation of mobile technology, which, putting head over heart, will likely come sooner than an England World Cup win.

The mobile market is moving apace to 5G. No sooner have us hard-working telco hacks written about a 5G trial, spectrum sale or R&D initiative in one market than another one pipes up with more of the same…only better, of course. It’s almost as though the various nations of the world are competing for bragging rights. Hmmm, that sounds like a good idea for some sort of international sporting competition…

The past few days alone have brought a raft of 5G announcements from operators, regulators, vendors and policymakers.

In Russia, where nothing much else is happening right now, MTS demonstrated 5G voice and video services working with vendor partner Samsung. In France, Orange and Bouygues Telecom announced 5G trials in new locations, Marseille and Bordeaux respectively, while Hungary’s Magyar Telekom worked with Huawei to carry out a live 5G trial at its Budapest headquarters. And India’s Reliance Industries cited 5G as one of the driving forces behind its decision to acquire Radisys. The conglomerate aims to boost the software capabilities of its mobile unit Reliance Jio Infocomm through the deal.

When it comes to spectrum, a number of markets have made progress in recent days. Switzerland on Friday announced that it will auction off 5G spectrum in various bands in January, with the regulator insisting that it is not looking to maximise revenue from the sale, but rather to ensure all operators get a fair crack of the whip and the country gets good network coverage. Time will tell on that one.

Further north, Poland has yet to set the date for a 5G spectrum sale, but it is making progress, this week opening a consultation into the allocation of frequencies.

On the R&D front, Nokia struck a partnership deal with China’s Tencent that will see the pair jointly research 5G applications aimed at various industry verticals, and Telenor revealed it has been selected to coordinate the pan-European 5G-VINNI initiative, one of three R&D projects that together form Phase 3 of the EU’s 5G public private partnership (PPP).

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The coming weeks, months and years will generate enough 5G-related column inches to fill a football pitch or a couple of Wimbledon tennis courts, if you prefer your balls a bit smaller and furrier.

But for now, I think it’s all over. Your regular Total Telecom editor, Chris Kelly, will be back next week!

Friday Review: 6 July 2018