Swiss operator Swisscom teamed with Telstra in Australia to demonstrate that it is possible to make a 5G data call using Ericsson’s dynamic spectrum sharing technology. Spectrum sharing allows operators to allocate some of their existing 4G LTE spectrum to 5G using existing radios (as long as they are 5G NR-capable).
The 5G data call connected a caller in Bern, Switzerland to a caller in Gold Coast, Australia, using spectrum sharing technology that was deployed in Swisscom and Telstra’s commercial 5G networks.
The call was made using a 3GPP frequency division duplex (FDD) band. Chinese manufacturer OPPO provided the pre-commercial 5G smartphones, which are powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon x55 5G modem. OPPO is the first device maker to incorporate Ericsson’s spectrum sharing in its smartphones.
This is the first time a 5G call has been made using spectrum sharing technology that was deployed in commercial 5G networks. In August Ericsson demonstrated that a call was possible in its lab in Ottawa, Canada, using an Ericsson macro radio that supported both 4G and 5G.
Ericsson has been pushing this technology because it will allow operators to deploy both 4G and 5G in the same spectrum band through a software upgrade. Operators will then be able to dynamically allocate spectrum based upon user demand and switch between 4G and 5G carriers within milliseconds.
Verizon is particularly bullish on spectrum sharing. At the Mobile World Congress Americas 2019 conference in Los Angeles earlier this year the operator said that it plans to introduce spectrum sharing technology into its network in 2020. It said it will use spectrum sharing technology from three infrastructure vendors including Ericsson, Samsung and Nokia.
Fredrik Jejdling, EVP and head of networks for Ericsson, said that this 5G transglobal call between Swisscom and Telstra demonstrates that operators can re-use their 4G spectrum assets for 5G. “It is the most economically feasible way to launch 5G on existing bands, enabling nationwide 5G coverage and helping make 5G accessible around the world,” he said.
Swisscom launched 5G with four 5G devices in May 2019 using the 3.6 GHz spectrum band. Telstra offers 5G in 25 cities with six 5G devices using the 3.6 GHz spectrum band and will add another 10 cities by June 2020.