German telecommunications firm Deutsche Telekom has claimed it has turned on Europe’s first 5G network, partnering with Huawei to do so.

Deutsche Telekom said its connection, which was on its commercial network in central Berlin, delivered downstream speeds of more than 2Gbps and a low latency of three milliseconds over a 3.7GHz spectrum link.

Claudia Nemat, Deutsche Telekom board member for technology and innovation, said: “5G new radio will be critical for meeting our customers’ ever-increasing connectivity requirements that are steadily growing with more and more network connections.”

The company said the implementation in a live real-world setting is based on pre-standard 5G that closely tracks the 3GPP global standard for so-called ‘Non-Standalone New Radio’.

It means that the connection is anchored in LTE while 5G New Radio carriers are used to boost data rates and reduce latency. Therefore, according to Deutsche Telekom, 5G New Radio will be deployed with the evolution of 4G LTE as the baseline for wide-area broadband coverage. It said that the specifications enabling that system will be complete by December 2017.

Huimin Zhu, vice-president of 5G at Huawei, said that Huawei joined Deutsche Telekom in successfully testing 5G New Radio equipment in field environments based on the latest 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) R15 standards.

She went on to say that these achievements “highlight the capabilities of the 5G NR equipment to meet operators’ requirements for addressing new business opportunities for end users”.

Huawei said it was confident that its partnership with Deutsche Telekom can fully prepare the commercial launch of 5G New Radio services in Europe by 2020 thanks to 3GPP standardisation efforts.

Although there is currently no agreed 5G standard, Deutsche Telekom said that when that happens, the company will trial it in 2018 to prepare for a wider deployment of commercial sites and the offering of devices for the mass market as they become available.

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