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MTS claims Russian 5G launch scheduled for 2018

It’s looking increasingly likely that 2018 will see major deployments of 5G across the world, as Russian incumbent MTS threw its hat into the ring with a predicted launch date.

Working alongside Ericsson, the telco said it expects to roll out a functioning 5G trial service in time for the 2018 FIFA footballing world cup, which will be hosted in Russia. The two companies announced a memorandum of understanding to conduct research and development into 5G. Usually, MoU news wouldn’t be considered overly significant; however a concrete deadline for rollout of the next generation cellular tech makes this use-case all the more intriguing.

Earlier this year, SK Telecom proudly announced it will be going big on 5G over the next three years, with trials to be conducted in 2017, and live rollouts anticipated in time for the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games. It would come as little surprise to see one of the Far Eastern telecoms leaders become the first to adopt 5G, with the Games scheduled to run over February and March. It may, however, be considered a surprise to see Europe follow so closely behind the Far East, should MTS and Ericsson succeed in their ambitions of deploying live 5G in time for the FIFA world cup, traditionally held in June and July, when one considers how far behind Europe was in the broad development of 4G across the continent.

According to Ericsson, the MOU will focus on understanding and defining the spectrum requirements of the next generation network and subsequently building a test system. MTS and Ericsson will focus on developing said requirements and clearly defining use-cases, as well as performance evaluation and applicability of potential 5G key technology components.

CTIO of MTS, Andrew Ushatskiy, conceded that anything tangible is still a long way off, but stressed that close cooperation with Ericsson is the way to make the still-ambiguous 5G a more achievable reality sooner rather than later.

“While requirements for the new communication standard are in the development stage, it is important for our company to be closely involved in this process, which led to signing the agreement with Ericsson,” he said. “Next year, we will start to test our key vendor’s developments through a series of pilot projects on the MTS network, in order for both of us to have a complete understanding of the performance of the solutions in our 5G networks. By working proactively throughout the process of 5G standardization, we will be ready to build first stages of the principally new network that will dramatically change our lives and the role of things around us, and will empower people and horizons of knowledge in all fields — homes, schools, medicine, science, transport, entertainment and many other areas.”

It’s also worth noting that the agreement will see both companies engage in LTE-Unlicensed testing, as well as LTE-M, the protocol for boosting IoT and M2M traffic across the 4G cellular network. In defining spectrum possibilities for the development of 5G, MTS said it will be investigating the deployment pilot solutions in the 15 GHz band. The project will also see a test area created to be used in time for the 2018 world cup.

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