South Korea’s largest mobile operator, SK Telecom, announced that it has successfully tested interoperability between a 5G Non Standalone (NSA) Core developed by Samsung Electronics and 5G base stations made by Nokia and Ericsson.
The test took place at the company’s 5G testbed located in its Bundang office building.
SK has been working closely with global mobile operators—including AT&T and Orange—to develop interfaces for interoperability between diverse multivendor 5G network equipment.
AT&T, which plans to launch its mobile 5G service in the next few weeks, revealed last month that it is using technology from Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung to build its nationwide 5G network. SK Telecom last month also announced that it’s using those same three vendors. Samsung is supplying the core, while Nokia and Ericsson are supplying the base stations for SK.
The 5G NSA Core used in SK’s interoperability trial was specially developed by SK Telecom and Samsung Electronics. Theoretically, the 5G NSA standard allows for operators to deploy 5G network by adding 5G features to the existing LTE core equipment. SK Telecom said it has decided to also deploy new 5G NSA Core to further enhance both the stability and quality of its 5G service.
“SK Telecom continues to lead the industry in 5G by successfully achieving multi-vendor equipment interoperability based on 3GPP standard,” said Park Jin-hyo, executive vice president and head of ICT R&D Center at SK Telecom, in a release. “We will continue to make efforts to launch commercial 5G network that offers the highest quality and stability.”
SK's leadership claims in 5G are supported by analysts. Juniper Research analyzed more than 50 global operators based on criteria that included the results of 5G testing and trials, the extent and range of partnerships in the 5G ecosystem and the level of technology innovation. As a result, a study released in August ranked SK Telecom among the top five operators in its 5G Operator Positioning Index. NTT DoCoMo ranked No. 1, followed by SK Telecom, LG U+, KT Telecom and SoftBank.
AT&T and China Mobile closely followed the top five players in the Positioning Index, but Verizon, which has already launched its 5G Home service, was just outside the top 10, behind fellow U.S. operators AT&T and Sprint, which both made the top 10 but not the top five, a Juniper spokesperson told FierceWirelessTech at the time.
The Juniper analyst who conducted the study, Sam Barker, found that Japanese and South Korean operators were in a much more advanced state of readiness than their U.S. counterparts. Barker predicts that 45% of all 5G connections worldwide in 2019 will be found in just these two countries.