T-Mobile touts multi-vendor milestones on path to 5G SA

Standalone (SA) is the next evolution of 5G network architecture and T-Mobile plans to launch SA 5G later this year. (T-Mobile)

T-Mobile announced several important milestones on its path to deploying standalone (SA) 5G later this year, naming Cisco, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, OnePlus and Qualcomm as partners in notching its “world first” achievements.

In its press release, T-Mobile acknowledged that SA is the future of 5G, allowing 5G to reach its full potential by increasing coverage and laying a foundation for applications that harness the blazing fast speed and low latency of 5G. Most operators launched 5G using the non-standalone (NSA) architecture, which relies on LTE for the core.

“Powerful and reliable wireless networks are more important than ever, and these milestones mark a huge step forward for the entire wireless ecosystem,” said T-Mobile President of Technology Neville Ray in a statement today. “Standalone 5G, paired with the broad and deep network we’re building by combining the assets of T-Mobile and Sprint, will accelerate 5G adoption and services and transform wireless!”

T-Mobile launched 5G late last year using its 600 MHz spectrum, covering more than 200 million people and more than 5,000 cities and towns across the country. 

The company says its latest 5G milestones were achieved with a new multi-vendor 5G production core on its commercial nationwide 5G network, paving the way for the launch of standalone 5G later this year.

RELATED: T-Mobile bashes Verizon, AT&T as it lights up nationwide 5G

During the tests, SA and NSA 5G devices were operating with active sessions at the same time in the same cell. “And importantly, all of T-Mobile’s recent tests were conducted with unflinching standards for employee and partner safety and health,” the operator stated.

Among a long list of firsts, T-Mobile said it managed a SA 5G data session between commercial modems from two suppliers on a production network with Cisco, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia and Qualcomm Technologies.

It also conducted a low-band SA 5G voice call using Evolved Packet System (EPS) fallback to VoLTE with Cisco, Ericsson, MediaTek and Nokia. That will enable high quality voice services using VoLTE in the SA architecture while the industry develops voice over new radio (VoNR) 5G technology.

A low-band VoNR call on a production network was conducted with Cisco, Ericsson, MediaTek and Nokia, as well as a video over new radio (ViNR) call on a production network with Cisco, Ericsson, Nokia and Qualcomm.  

Last but not least, T-Mobile said it accomplished several 5G firsts with a commercial smartphone on a production network, including the first low-band SA 5G data session, first call with EPS fallback and first VoNR and ViNR calls. These were done with Cisco, Ericsson, Nokia, OnePlus and Qualcomm.

RELATED: Verizon’s SA rollout will be multi-year effort

One vendor not mentioned in T-Mobile’s release today: Samsung, which has supplied network gear to Sprint in the past. No word yet on what its role will be with the new combined entity.

Carriers around the world are making the switch from NSA to SA 5G. According to Mobile Experts, SA launches are likely to happen at AT&T and Verizon as well before year’s end.