AT&T, China Mobile, NTT DoCoMo, Vodafone, Nokia, Qualcomm and more get behind unified 5G standard

BARCELONA, Spain—Consistent with its message that agreed-upon, industrywide standards are the way to go with 5G, AT&T is among a slew of operators and vendors pledging to support a unified, global 5G standard achieved through 5G testing, trials and cooperation.

During the Global 5G Test Summit here Wednesday, AT&T, China Mobile, NTT DOCOMO, Vodafone, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Keysight, MediaTek, Nokia, Qualcomm, Rohde & Schwarz, ZTE and Datang jointly declared a statement promoting unified, global 5G standards achieved through 5G testing, trials and cooperation between telecom operators, vendors and vertical industry partners to build a unified end-to-end (E2E) ecosystem.

The summit, supported by ITU, GSMA, 3GPP, NGMN and GTI, invited all participants to declare their commitment to facilitating and ensuring a unified, high-quality and competitive 3GPP 5G specification by June 2018 for Release 15 and December 2019 for Release 16. The participants aim to build a unified 5G E2E ecosystem (including chipset, terminal, network, test instruments and more) for seamless global roaming and enlarging the global market scale for low cost.

AT&T’s Tom Keathley, senior vice president/wireless network architecture and design, has previously said how important it is that his company participate in the standards work, where economies of scale work in the operator’s favor.  

"Through advanced testing and trials, we're addressing key standards issues early in order to accelerate standards and provide the fastest path to large-scale, global 5G deployment," he said in a prepared statement this week. "We're collaborating closely with leaders across our industry on 5G. Pre-standard, fragmented 5G specifications can distract from the end-goal and cause future roadblocks. It's critical that we're all unified and aligned on this technology."

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Participants are starting the early trial and interoperability testing for a variety of use cases, including mobile broadband, for 3GPP Release 15 specifications to drive the 5G ecosystem and to ensure a quick and efficient time to market. They also appeared to inspire innovations on 5G key technology and to validate the smooth evolution capability of technologies toward 5G, including 3D-MIMO LTE, NB-IoT/eMTC and C-V2X. 

Of course, getting other industries to get involved is a key part of making 5G a success if it is to live up to its vision. The statement also encouraged and welcomed partners from vertical industries to participate in the testing and trials for innovative 5G services and to jointly create new value for the entire global society.

"Standards are the foundation of new technologies, and it is Nokia's firm belief that the implementation of robust standards will be pivotal to the long-term success of 5G, and all the new business opportunities that it will create," said Hossein Moiin, chief technology officer of the Mobile Networks business group at Nokia.

Durga Malladi, SVP of Qualcomm, said, "It is important that, as an industry, we work together towards a global 5G standard to ensure timely interoperability trials and commercial deployments. Qualcomm Technologies is dedicated to close cooperation with all of the companies participating in the Global 5G Test Summit as well as those contributing to 3GPP, and look forward to what we can achieve together."

RELATED: AT&T, Sprint join 20 other companies in bid to accelerate 5G NR schedule, but Verizon is MIA

AT&T was among a number of companies that on the eve of MWC 2017 signed off on a proposal that would accelerate standards work related to the 5G New Radio (NR) specification. Other supporters included NTT DoCoMo, SK Telecom, Vodafone, Ericsson, Qualcomm Technologies, British Telecom, Telstra, Korea Telecom, Intel, LG Uplus, KDDI, LG Electronics, Telia Company, Swisscom, TIM, Etisalat Group, Huawei, Sprint, Vivo, ZTE and Deutsche Telekom.

Notably, Verizon, T-Mobile US and Nokia were not on that list.