The stream of news about 5G testbeds, and pre-commercial 5G lab trials, demos, and live-tests continues. This time is Taiwan’s Far EasTone that, partnering with Ericsson, is announcing demos of 5G services over its 4G LTE network, and reporting a 1 Gbps throughput. What is different about this case from others we previously reported is that Far EasTone Telecommunications Co Ltd (遠傳電信), Taiwan’s No. 3 telecom operator, is highlighting together with the 5G demo results their evolution path from LTE. With this evolutionary approach, the operator expects to start offering 5G services using its long-term-evolution (LTE) network technology in 2018, ahead of full commercial 5G operations in 2020. The company also hopes to offer some 5G pre-commercial services for its subscribers during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea.
Far EasTone Roadmap Includes a 5G Lab Demo and Steps from 4G to Commercial 5G Service: The operator announced the establishment of Taiwan’s first 5G laboratory developed in collaboration with telecom equipment supplier Ericsson. Their telecommunications network and technology business group executive vice president Rao Zhonghua said that the company aims to operate 5G services by 2018, and provide 1Gbps transmission speed network by 2020. Far EasTone launched the demonstration at its 5G lab in New Taipei City’s Banciao District (板橋) reporting to achieve 1 gigabit per second aggregate speed on their existing 4G network.
Far EasTone is the ninth partner of Ericsson’s global 5G partners to launch the demo. We are assuming that for the demo, the latest Ericsson’s testbed presented at this year’s GSMA’s Mobile World Congress 2016 is used including some of the radios with advanced features such as multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO) and beamforming. Far EasTone is testing these advanced features in their own network environment with a 4G to 5G evolution plan in mind.
Commercial 5G Plans in Taiwan Take an Evolutionary, Incremental Approach from 4G to 5G : As the 5G spectrum has not been allocated in Taiwan, Far EasTone’s Rao Zhonghua said that an incremental spectrum bands and features roll out is planned as follows: an initial service phase running in the 2600 MHz and 1800 MHz bands with 20 MHz carriers reaching up to 450Mbps transmission service speeds; then by 2018 through multi-input multi-output (MIMO) base station and three carrier aggregation (3CA) integration, the transmission speed will reach 750Mbps; and finally in 2020 provide 1Gbps transmission speed of 5G services. With this incremental approach, Rao Zhounghua said “We hope to bring some new [5G] technologies or services to our customers as soon as possible. They do not have to wait until 2020,” and he also pointed out that the internationally 3.6 GHz, 5.8 GHz and 28 GHz bands will be the most commonly identified for 5G spectrum, and Taiwan foresees aligning in this direction. Overall, Taiwan has aggressive plans for 5G rollout once spectrum is assigned, and aims for 5G adoption rates faster than 4G which took only 3 years to reach 50% penetration rate.
The Path to Commercial 5G Services: Initially the company targets development of an audio-visual content platform; it will focus on serving transportation and water and electricity industries, through innovative technology research and development; and it will market 5G applications to R&D institutions, to the public sector and to private enterprises.
According to Ericsson’s latest research report, “5G can play a key role in transforming industries, including automotive, utilities, public safety, high-tech manufacturing, digital networking, healthcare, finance, media and gaming.” and services such as the ones Far EasTone is trailing are the starting point of innovating and engineering such a transformation. The 5G era will also build the “Internet of Things” throughout the globe.
Resources: Ericsson, Taipei Times, Taiwan Business Times