Nokia scores a $3.5bn deal to inflict 5G on T-Mobile customers

5G takes another tentative step to actually being a thing

Nokia and T-Mobile have inked a $3.5bn deal to take the US telco into the bright new world of 5G communications.

Burning 5G against dark background

So what does EE's 5G test really signal?

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The multi-year agreement will see the Finn outfit help build out T-Mobile's network with 600 MHz and 28 GHz millimetre wave 5G compatible with 3GPP 5G New Radio (NR) standards.

For its part, T-Mobile is "all in on 5G", according to CTO Neville Ray. Ray went on to insist that "every dollar we spend is a 5G dollar" before pointing out that the investment was aimed at bringing US customers a mobile, nationwide 5G network.

The latter part of the statement is a thinly veiled jab at Verizon, which has been working with Swedes Ericsson to provide a "first-of-its-kind" fixed wireless broadband network, due to arrive in "select markets" in the second half of 2018. A mobile solution is due to follow shortly afterwards.

Los Angeles is destined to get Verizon's 5G in the last quarter of 2018 and it was announced last week that 5G would arrive in Houston in the last half of 2018. So, kind of now.

Verizon has also indulged in a dalliance with Nokia recently to crank speeds up to 1.8Gbps using 4CC (component carrier aggregation). While current 4G speeds will handle DVD-quality streaming at a pinch, 4K needs a reliable 3GPP NR connection. And a particularly generous data plan.

UK mobile operator EE has already demonstrated an end-to-end 5G connection running at 2.8Gbps, using Huawei kit. O2 UK, on the other hand, is running a "5G Test Bed", which is due to hit the former Millennium Dome later this year.

While mobile customers may wonder if 5G is really needed, since 4G is really quite speedy where there is sufficient coverage, 5G is finally making the transition from almost-here to really-here. Whether customers like it or not. ®




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