BARCELONA, Spain -- Nokia said operators will be able to offer 5G services from as early as 2017 as it demonstrated commercially available radio access hardware on the opening day of the Mobile World Congress, here.
The company said the demonstration of its AirScale radio access is an industry first and that the hardware will accelerate operators' transition to 5G while cutting the cost of migrating their existing LTE infrastructure. The hardware will enable operators to offer early 5G services from 2017, and begin full commercial 5G operations around 2020, it announced.
In a statement, Hossein Moiin, CTO of Nokia Mobile Networks, said the company is offering "the industry's first demonstration of how 5G will work in practice, going beyond previous experimental systems."
The live demonstration is "a major advance because it means that 5G is no longer a distant vision," Moiin added.
Lauri Oksanen, VP of R&D at Nokia, separately told FierceWireless:Europe that early tests of the company's 5G equipment are already delivering the low-latency that most in the industry consider will be a key feature of the next generation technology.
He also noted that 5G is the first wireless technology where non-human use cases are being considered at the development stage. "5G is the first standard that will be optimised for machine as well as human" communications, he said.
That approach differs from current wireless technologies, which Oksanen pointed out are being used for machine-to-machine (M2M) services despite being primarily developed for human communication.
Early availability of 5G-capable equipment will be important in fuelling operator trials of the technology ahead of commercial launches in 2020, Oksanen explained. "There will be several trials, which will be important proof points" in the development of 5G technology, he said.
Oksanen concluded by noting that development of global standards for 5G are progressing well.
Today, that process is "at a similar stage to where we were with 4G" when that technology was in the works, he said, adding that European companies and research institutes are holding their own in terms of the global efforts on defining the next generation technology.
Despite the strong showing of European research into 5G, Oksanen emphasised that development of the technology must be a global initiative. "There is no sense in developing a local standard," he said.
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