Verizon, Nokia complete 5G NR mobility call

Verizon and Nokia announced they were able to achieve a key milestone on the road to 5G: handing off a signal seamlessly to a vehicle traveling between two radio sectors.

The test took place at Nokia’s Murray Hill, N.J., campus. A data transmission at 28 GHz was sent from two 5G New Radio (NR) radios on a Nokia building to a vehicle outfitted with a receiver and equipment to measure transmission statistics. The vehicle traveled between the two radios, achieving seamless 5G NR Layer 3 3GPP-compliant mobility handoff of the signal between the two sectors, intra-gNB and inter-DU, according to the companies.

Clearly, pretty much every carrier and vendor is claiming some kind of first when it comes to 5G. Verizon said this test with Nokia—also a first—follows the companies’ completion of a series of outdoor data sessions over the 5G NR standard and multi-carrier aggregation to boost those signals into Gigabit range, also both industry firsts.

But this, of course, is not your run-of-the-mill first. “Unlike some of the incremental 5G technology announcements we’ve seen lately, tests like the one we conducted are significant advancements in the development of 5G technology,” said Bill Stone, vice president, Technology Development and Planning for Verizon, in a press release. “By taking these tests out of the lab and into the field, we’re replicating the experience users will ultimately have in a 5G mobility environment.”

“We are pleased to showcase the acceleration of the mobile capabilities in 5G,” said Marc Rouanne, president, Mobile Networks, Nokia, in the release. “Enhanced mobile broadband is one of the first services being delivered on Nokia's end-to-end 5G Future X portfolio. As a result, we can help our customers meet their early 5G deployment schedules and initial coverage demands.”

Indeed, much of Verizon’s focus initially for 5G has been on fixed wireless access, positioned as another way to get a fast internet connection into the home. But it also needs to deliver on the mobility side of 5G.

The company plans to be the first to launch 5G residential broadband service in four markets this year, followed by a mobile 5G solution. The four markets for this year are Los Angeles, Houston, Sacramento and Indianapolis.

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg told CNBC the operator is going to be first in the world with 5G. “We are building everything right now,” he said, with 5G mobile phones due in the hands of consumers next year.