A group of leading mobile communications firms has achieved a significant milestone based on the newly approved Non-Standalone (NSA) 5G New Radio (NR) standard.

The 3GPP-compliant 5G NR multi-vendor interoperability live demonstrations could now pave the way for commercial launches of 5G standard-compliant infrastructure and devices, according to Qualcomm, one of the participants.

Along with companies including AT&T, Orange, Vodafone and Telstra, Qualcomm showcased the interoperability at its own lab in New Jersey, US, as well as at the Ericsson Lab in Sweden.

According to Qualcomm, its own 5G NR user equipment (UE) prototypes and Ericsson’s 5G NR pre-commercial base stations will enable operators to conduct live tests in their own networks.

Fredrik Jejdling, executive vice president and head of business area networks at Ericsson, said: “This milestone builds on years of researching and developing 5G technology as well as on leading and contributing to the standardisation work. By working closely with our key partners in early trials and fine-tuning our global portfolio, we ensure that we can bring the standard-compliant technology to the benefits of our customers and their customers.”

Cristiano Amon, executive vice president at Qualcomm Technologies, added that achieving multi-vendor interoperability based on the global 5G NR standard is a “true testament” to the company’s “continued 5G leadership”.

He went on to say that the new development allowed his firm to deliver fundamental contributions to the 3GPP standard and drive forward the launch of standard-compliant commercial networks and devices, starting in 2019.

The over-the-air Interoperability Development Testing (IODT) was conducted for lower layer data connections operating at both 3.5 GHz and 28 GHz bands. These newly standardised layers are going to lay the foundation for 5G NR.

Luke Ibbetson, Vodafone’s head of group R&D, said that the first multi-vendor interoperability test of 5G is going to pave the way for the company to trial commercial grade equipment in the coming year.

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