Ericsson, SoftBank 5G trial in Tokyo to include mobility at 28 GHz

The 5G race has been underway for a while, but now Ericsson and SoftBank are stepping it up a notch with a 28 GHz trial in Tokyo that will involve indoor and outdoor environments covering both device mobility and stationary tests.

The two companies have already completed basic 5G trials using 15 GHz and 4.5 GHz spectrum bands. The 4.5 GHz and 28 GHz bands are among the leading candidates for 5G services in Japan.

The trial will use Ericsson's mmWave 28 GHz 5G Test Bed solution, which includes base stations and device prototypes and will showcase advanced 5G technologies including Massive-MIMO, Massive Beamforming, Distributed MIMO, Multiuser MIMO and Beam Tracking. That, along with multigigabit data rates and ultra-low latency, will be part of the mix.

"SoftBank started to verify 4.5 GHz radio back in August 2016 and now 4.5 GHz is becoming the leading candidate band for 5G services in Japan together with 28 GHz,” said Hideyuki Tsukuda, senior vice president at SoftBank, in a press release. “We are leveraging Ericsson's Test Bed with 28 GHz radio to validate a lot of advanced features at super low-latency and high throughput, which helps position us as a pioneer of 5G."

The two companies announced their joint 5G trial in 2015, and “we have together achieved several significant milestones to date,” said Mikael Eriksson, head of Ericsson Japan.  "I am confident that we will be the first to deliver 5G services and that we will deliver the best performing end to end network in Japan." 

Operators in Japan are working aggressively to showcase 5G in time for the Summer Olympics in 2020, when Tokyo hosts the games.

Last November, Japanese operator NTT DoCoMo announced it had completed a 5G trial with Samsung Electronics that achieved a data speed of more than 2.5 Gbps with a mobile device that was in a vehicle traveling 150 km/h (about 93 mph), thereby showing the feasibility of connectivity for 5G devices in fast-moving trains. Transmissions were conducted using the 28 GHz band.

Much of the attention around 28 GHz in the U.S. has revolved around fixed wireless, with mobility being a more distant goal. That said, AT&T has said that given the 3GPP’s decision to accelerate elements of the 5G new radio (NR) timeline, it’s possible that standards-based mobile 5G services could be starting as early as late 2018—a year ahead of the previously anticipated timeframe.