Networking

Berlin 5G tests highlight Europe's race to catch up in connectivity

Deutsche Telekom tested Europe's first 5G antennas Thursday, and will be ready to deploy alongside 5G's global release in 2020.

Europe's largest telecom provider tested four 5G antennas in Berlin on Thursday—the first time the technology had been tested in a real world setting on the continent.

Deutsche Telekom, which is also the majority owner of T-Mobile, said the milestone will prepare Europe for the global launch of 5G in 2020.

5G unleashes speeds faster than a 4G network by 10 to 100 times. Deutsche Telekom reported speeds of more than 2 gigabits per second to devices and latency of just 3 milliseconds on some sites in the trial run.

SEE: Job description: Wireless network engineer (Tech Pro Research)

The faster speeds will give new tech developments like virtual and augmented reality, autonomous driving, and commercial use of drones the power to be fully utilized. According to Reuters, Telekom board member Claudia Nemat said that she expects businesses to be some of the first users of the network when it launches.

Outside of enterprise use, 5G will also have impact for governments. For example, Telekom said it is planning to test using the network to control traffic lights in Hamburg.

Operators are now looking past consumers uses of 5G and considering the impact in the enterprise and industrial segments, according to Ericsson's 2017 5G Readiness Survey. Respondents named media and entertainment, automotive, and public transportation as the top three industries for 5G use.

Of the 50 business and tech executives globally Ericsson interviewed, 78% are doing 5G trials, up from 32% last year. Around 28% expect to deploy 5G next year.

"Europe has so far lagged behind Asia, namely Japan and South Korea, and then the USA, as a region," Sylvain Fabre, a Gartner analyst, said of Europe's spot in the race to 5G.

A recent GSMA report said the Middle East and North African region is set to be the first to launch commercial 5G networks, with 30% of the population predicted to have 5G by 2025. South Korea and Japan plan to provide the network within the next year, and the US expects to fully implement 5G in 2019.

The cost of Telekom's 5G efforts hasn't been announced, but Nemat said in the release that the company is spending 5 billion euros in Germany per year. The amount, which equates to right under $6 billion, is being used for infrastructure necessary for the 5G end goal.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. After testing Europe's first 5G antennas, Deutsche Telekom said the technology will be ready for 5G's global release in 2020.
  2. Success of 5G will allow for speeds 10 to 100 times faster than today's 4G networks.
  3. A 5G network helps a number of technological advancements, such as virtual reality and self-driving cars, overcome a major networking obstacle before going mainstream.

Also see

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Image: iStockphoto/koo_mikko

About Olivia Krauth

Olivia Krauth is a Multiplatform Reporter at TechRepublic.

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