While much of the industry is still celebrating the final approval of the Standalone (SA) version of 3GPP’s 5G New Radio (NR) standard—as they should—Huawei and Intel are happy to accomplish tests related to the Non-Standalone (NSA) version with China Mobile.
It represents the first multivendor 5G NR interoperability and development testing (IODT) with full protocol, full channel and full procedure, according to the companies. That means they demonstrated that 5G network and 5G terminals from different vendors can perform functional tests and support various enhanced mobile broadband services such as ultra-high-definition video and VR.
The team is particularly proud of the work because it was accomplished in three months—“a very quick turnaround”—as it was based on what the 3GPP released in March, Asha Keddy, vice president in the Technology, Systems Architecture & Client Group and general manager of Next Generation and Standards at Intel, told FierceWirelessTech. They were able to achieve speeds up to 1.5 Gbps, she said, which is good for supporting 8K video and virtual reality services.
It’s also significant because it involved the full-stack 5G IODT based on the 3GPP Release 15 5G NR—including cloud and client, setting the pace for 5G testing in China.
The NSA specification was finalized in December of 2017, but in March of this year, 3GPP released an update to that spec that could be considered a “bug fix” release.
China Mobile plans to conduct 5G trials in several big cities this year.
"The success of this interoperability test can provide more kinds of terminals for the follow-up China Mobile's 5G scale test, and also providing a large-scale verification of 5G,” said Huang Yuhong, vice president of China Mobile Research Institute, in a statement.
China Mobile expects to release the first version of its 5G commercial product requirements this year and launch the first precommercial terminals in 2019, which will play an important role in areas such as fixed home access, industry video and smart manufacturing.
Of course, while Huawei and fellow Chinese vendor, albeit far smaller, ZTE continue to be the subject of national security scrutiny in the U.S., Intel is free to work with Huawei in China and elsewhere.
“Intel is a global company,” Keddy said. “We follow the rules wherever we are.”
According to IHS Markit, Huawei beat out Ericsson for the top mobile infrastructure spot worldwide in 2017, Capacity Media reported in March. The report found that Huawei was the only equipment vendor to gain share in the mobile infrastructure market in 2017, increasing from 25% to 28%.