The United States’ fifth largest wireless carrier, U.S. Cellular, and Nokia this week said they teamed up on what U.S. Cellular CTO Michael Irizarry called “very promising” trials of fixed wireless 5G technologies.
The companies said the tests were completed on 28 GHz spectrum in both outdoor settings at U.S. Cellular’s Schaumburg, Ill., technology center and indoor settings at the carrier’s lab. The simulation utilized Nokia’s AirScale radio platform to stream six simultaneous 4K videos, the companies said.
In their outdoor trial, the companies said they tested a point-to-point, clear line of sight scenario between a base station and user equipment. The companies said the outdoor testing also included a scenario that shifted the base station and user equipment behind trees and foliage and introduced impairments such as dry wall, windows and metal panels to assess the technology’s performance in a real world environment.
Nokia and U.S. Cellular said both the indoor and outdoor trials yielded speeds of 5 gbps and latency under 2 milliseconds via the 5G wireless link.
U.S. Cellular certainly isn’t the only wireless carrier taking fixed wireless 5G technology for a test drive.
Tier-1 rival Verizon has repeatedly said fixed wireless will be the medium for the first 5G deployments. Back in May, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said the carrier’s own trials of the technology at its Basking Ridge, N.J. headquarters delivered speeds of 1.8 gbps.
While Verizon has said it is on track to roll out the first 5G use cases via fixed wireless in the 2017, 2018 timeframe, U.S. Cellular’s plans for the technology are as yet less defined.
Unlike Verizon, which will have access to 28 GHz airwaves through its deal with XO Communications, U.S. Cellular on Wednesday said it does not currently own any 28 GHz spectrum.
The carrier said it is still waiting for the completion of the 5G standards process before it sets its commercial 5G plans and timeline for execution. But that doesn’t mean it can’t prepare.
U.S. Cellular and Nokia said they are planning to collaborate on further network testing going forward.
The carrier said its trials are focused on understanding how 5G will best serve its customers and noted each trial will help it gain a better understanding of how consumers can benefit from the technology.