Last week Vodafone announced the conclusion of a successful outdoor test of 5G technology. Along with research partner Huawei, the mobile network provider successfully tested both single and multiple user devices at its base in Newbury, Berkshire.

The test apparently assessed both single-user multiple input multiple output (SU-MIMO) to reach 20Gbps user equipment (UE) peak rate and multi-user multiple input multiple output (MU-MIMO) for long-range UE to reach 10Gbps peak rate. Huawei are claiming this as the first outdoor test to hit 20Gbps over e-band.

“This field test in an outdoor environment is a significant step in validating the performance of 5G in high frequency bands, improving our understanding of the capabilities of the technology,” said Vodafone Group CTO Johan Wibergh.

The power of two

Ever since Vodafone and Huawei announced their partnership, the two companies have collaborated a great deal. They are currently testing 5G, IoT and other mobile technologies to drive the industry forward. It’s a ten year partnership that began with the development of a new research lab on Vodafone’s Newbury campus.

The lab is dedicated to the Internet of Things but there is obviously 5G research going on there too. This builds on the successful test of narrowband IoT trials successfully carried out in suburban Melbourne.

The power of five

Back to 5G, both companies are understandably pleased with the successful test. The next-gen network technology is widely viewed as necessary to be able to carry the extra traffic generated by the Internet of Things, connected cars, augmented reality and other emerging technologies. Many of these will depend on a strong and reliable mobile signal, with speed being a definite bonus.

But 5G isn’t just about new technology, it is going to change everything. We all know that the current spectrum is a bit of a mess, with services both civilian and otherwise spread all over. The introduction of 5G is going to harmonise all that. The ITU, who manages the airwaves is planning to tidy things up with the next generation.

Rather than having services spread across the spectrum with newer services squeezed into empty spaces, the ITU is planning to bring everything together and completely reorganise the airwaves. If successful, this move alone should make existing connections faster and much more reliable. Add newer, faster transmission technologies into the mix and we should have enough speed for everyone.

Sorting out the airwaves will also boost capacity, which is of a primary concern to networks if millions of new devices will become connected. The IoT alone could generate several million new devices all requiring bandwidth. Add connected cars and technologies that haven’t arrived yet and some serious futureproofing is required.

So the headline here is that 5G is going to offer some serious speed once it arrives. Just as important is the fact that the devices we use to do business will have enough bandwidth within which to enjoy that speed.

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