Ericsson and Qualcomm completed the first over-the-air 5G data call using dynamic spectrum sharing with partner Swisscom in Switzerland.
The successful call was conducted at Swisscom’s Digital Lab on October 31. Ericsson and Qualcomm already achieved a DSS 5G data call over a 3GPP Frequency Division Duplex (FDD) low band earlier this year, but the latest step was the first successful DSS call carried out with a service provider partner.
Swisscom introduced 5G in Switzerland in April using 3.6 GHz spectrum, with Ericsson as its sole 5G equipment vendor. The operator will be the first to deploy Ericsson Spectrum Sharing (ESS) software in December, and the recent DSS call on commercial platform is forward movement on Swisscom’s goal of covering 90% of the country’s population with 5G this year.
DSS has been touted as a way to help carriers deliver broad 5G coverage by using the same spectrum for both 4G and 5G, instead of having to dedicate current LTE spectrum for 5G. Ericsson said its product switches between 4G and 5G within milliseconds, dynamically sharing spectrum based on traffic demands.
“With Ericsson Spectrum Sharing, service providers can reuse their Ericsson Radio System investments on bands currently used for LTE to support a fast introduction of 5G,” said Hannes Ekström, head of Product Line 5G RAN at Ericsson, in a statement.
“Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) allows Swisscom to best leverage the existing frequency spectrum and infrastructure for 4G and 5G customers, depending on their needs,” said Patrick Weibel, head of 5G program at Swisscom, in a news release. “Spectrum sharing will ensure that Swisscom can provide extensive 5G coverage to its customers as soon as possible.”
U.S. carrier Verizon has indicated DSS is key to its future 5G strategy. Verizon expects to introduce the technology into its network in 2020 and Verizon’s VP of technology Heidi Hemmer previously told FierceWireless that the technology will be particularly important in places with large capacity needs like stadiums and entertainment arenas.
In terms of devices, handsets that can take advantage of the technology still need to come to market. Qualcomm said Ericsson’s DSS solution is compatible with all 5G FDD-capable smartphones and other devices based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 5G platform.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 processors and X50 modems powered the first 5G devices, and its Snapdragon X55 modem supports both TDD and FDD sub-6 GHz and mmWave spectrum, together capable of supporting a broad range of 5G deployment flavors.
Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf last week disclosed that more than 40 EOMs and 30 operators are now launching or announcing 5G products and services, up from 20 each at the beginning of the year.
Speaking on the company’s recent quarterly earnings call, Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon said the company continues to see incumbents providing 4G next year, but as DSS comes on the scene in 2020, refarming of existing 4G spectrum to 5G will further expand revenue opportunities for Qualcomm’s current 5G RF front-end solution.
While initial 5G launches in the U.S. have used mmWave spectrum (other than Sprint, which is using 2.5 GHz) carriers will use mid- and low-band spectrum to expand coverage.
T-Mobile last week announced a Dec. 6 date for its nationwide 5G rollout on 600 MHz, promising to cover more than 200 million people. T-Mobile will offer two compatible devices, the Samsung Galaxy Note and the OnePlus 7T Pro 5G McLaren.