Sprint gets in on 5G with two COPA America stadium trials planned

Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure revealed this week that the carrier will leverage the COPA America soccer tournament in June to demonstrate 5G capabilities with the help of Nokia and Ericsson, and it looks like those demos could be conducted in Philadelphia and Santa Clara, Calif.

However, Sprint did not confirm those are the locations. A spokeswoman would only say that Sprint plans to conduct a 5G demonstration at two stadiums in June during the 2016 Copa America Centenario – one demonstration will be with Nokia and one demonstration will be with Ericsson. A Nokia spokeswoman also confirmed plans for a 5G demo with Sprint but did not disclose the location.

This week, Ericsson submitted an application for Special Temporary Authority (STA) to conduct a 5G demo for an unnamed customer June 8-14 at Lincoln Financial Stadium in Philadelphia. The application states that Ericsson plans to conduct demos on June 9, 11 and possibly 14 during the pre- and post-shows surrounding the COPA soccer finals.

Ericsson requested confidential treatment for much of the information related to the STA application, but it did say it will use spectrum and antenna parameters that the FCC has granted authorization for Ericsson to use previously. It's asking to transmit on 14.5-15.35 GHz only because the experimental equipment that it will be using was designed in Sweden to operate on that spectrum.

Ericsson will use one experimental 5G base station and one piece of experimental 5G mobile user equipment, and it's aiming to keep the base station and mobile unit within 50 feet of each other.

Last month, Nokia filed an STA application, which was still pending Wednesday, to conduct a demo at the COPA America "football games" at Levis Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., with Sprint. The requested period for the STA is from May 30 to June 17 – a period of three weeks just in case some longer-term need is required, but the application states that time may be reduced to June 1-10 if the FCC feels that is more appropriate.

With Claure revealing plans to conduct 5G tests during the soccer tournament, Sprint joins other operators like Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile in conducting such tests. During last month's Brooklyn 5G Summit hosted by Nokia and NYU Wireless, AT&T revealed that it will extend its current lab testing to an outdoor test in Austin, Texas, this summer, predominantly focusing on fixed wireless. It will start with 15 GHz tests and then move to 28 GHz because gear at 15 GHz was available sooner.  

Arun Ghosh, director of wireless communications at AT&T Labs, said the tests start off as fixed as they need to make sure the base stations and devices are interoperable. While the standard for 5G has yet to be written, "we have to do a whole lot of interoperability testing," he said. Vehicular applications and high-speed mobility are part of the plan, but fixed is easier to do in the beginning, he said.

For more:
- see this Ericsson filing and this Nokia filing

Related articles:
AT&T expects to start outdoor 5G tests in Austin this summer
Ericsson seeks modification to license for 5G tests with Verizon
Verizon to test 5G at 28 GHz in Texas with Samsung

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