Ericsson and Qualcomm Technologies say they’re adding a new frequency band to those that already have been successfully tested for commercial 5G deployment: 2.6 GHz.
The companies said they achieved a non-standalone (NSA) 5G New Radio (NR) data call at 2.6 GHz on Dec. 20 at Ericsson’s lab in Kista, Sweden.
The bi-directional downlink and uplink data call is compliant with the 3GPP Release 15 “early drop” specification that was frozen in March 2018 and further stabilized in September; it constitutes the basis for commercial launches expected in the first half of 2019.
“Together with Qualcomm Technologies, Ericsson continues to make strides on commercial 5G readiness by continuously performing interoperability tests on 5G NR networks on different spectrum bands. We’re offering our customers flexible deployment options as they gear up for commercial 5G services,” said Per Narvinger, head of Product Area Networks at Ericsson, in a press release.
The press release didn’t say which operators are planning to use 2.6 GHz, which is next door to Sprint’s trove of 2.5 GHz, but China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology last year awarded spectrum to China Mobile in the 2.6 GHz and 4.8 GHz bands.
Ericsson and Qualcomm’s lab demonstration used Ericsson’s commercially available 5G hardware—including its 5G NR radio AIR 6488 and RAN Compute products—along with Qualcomm’s mobile smartphone form-factor test device powered by the Snapdragon X50 5G modem and antenna modules with integrated RF transceiver, RF front-end and antenna elements.
Durga Malladi, senior vice president and general manager, 4G/5G at Qualcomm Technologies, said in a statement that Qualcomm is excited to continue working with Ericsson on 5G. “We are committed to helping ensure consumers get 5G devices and experiences in their hands starting in the first half of 2019,” he said.
Qualcomm Technologies and Ericsson said they also completed similar Interoperability Development Testing (IoDT) on 28 GHz and 39 GHz millimeter wave bands, as well as on 3.5 GHz band based on the September specifications.
Also in December, Huawei and Intel announced successful 2.6 GHz 5G NR IoDT based on the September version of 3GPP Release 15. They said it was the world's first 2.6 GHz 5G interoperability test under a standalone network.
Operators in the U.S. in particular have been focused on getting more midband spectrum for 5G as other nations were quick to designate 3.5 GHz for 5G. The U.S. took a different tact when it comes to 3.5 GHz, setting up a unique Citizens Broadband Radio Service sharing paradigm, which is a big reason carriers are looking to the 3.7-4.2 GHz, or C-Band, to satisfy their midband 5G spectrum needs.