TeliaSonera and Ericsson said customers of the Sweden-based operator in Stockholm in Sweden and Tallinn in Estonia will experience 5G services as early as 2018, as the two companies unveiled a new strategic partnership to drive the development of 5G.
The equipment vendor and operator said they will develop and test selected 5G use-cases and services based on TeliaSonera's network and Ericsson 5G technology. These will include both communication and Internet of Things (IoT) services with the purpose of addressing new business opportunities.
Ericsson said it will be a pre-commercial network, "and we will jointly offer the 5G services to select customers."
Johan Dennelind, president and CEO, TeliaSonera, said: "Our ambition is to be at the cutting edge -- at all times -- offering our customers and society at large all the possibilities that technology brings. Stockholm and Tallinn are two of the most connected cities in the world and now we'll take them to the next level. 5G will create completely new innovations, ecosystems and great services to our customers. 5G will also take connected things (IoT) to a new level."
Indeed, 2018 is well ahead of the planned standardisation schedule for 5G, but signals from vendors and operators alike indicate that early trials of services and network demonstrations could proliferate that year, particularly because of the FIFA World Cup in Russia.
For example, Huawei/MegaFon and Ericsson/MTS have separately said that they plan to deploy trial 5G networks in time for the football tournament.
The latest announcement from Ericsson and TeliaSonera also comes just after Günther Oettinger, the European commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, called the leaders of 10 major European telecoms operators and infrastructure vendors to a meeting to address concerns that Europe was falling behind countries in Asia Pacific in the race to develop 5G.
Despite these concerns, Europe has become a major focus for 5G research and development, with initiatives including the University of Surrey's 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) already established to help guide the definition and deployment of the next-generation technology.
Oettinger took steps to ensure European research and development is inline with other global markets in September when he signed a deal that paved the way for collaboration between the EU's 5GPPP Association and China's IMT-2020 (5G) Promotion Association.
The deal with China built on similar, separate, research agreements between the EC and South Korea and Japan. The EC has also pledged to invest €700 million ($759 million) in 5G research as part of its Horizon 2020 Programme.
- see this Ericsson release
EC's Oettinger gives 5G pep talk to operator, vendor chiefs
EU and China sign key partnership on 5G
University of Surrey's 5GIC opens doors with £70M investment
Europe accelerates push toward a 5G wireless future
Huawei commits £5M to UK 5G research centre
5G networks should give perception of 'infinite capacity,' say researchers