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Ericsson and China Mobile claim world’s first 5G drone trial

Swedish networking giant has wasted little time in responding to rival Nokia’s latest efforts by partnering with China Mobile over a drone field trial that they say is the first ever to be 5G-enabled.

5G doesn’t yet exist as a standard, of course, so how this drone prototype can claim to be 5G-enabled isn’t entirely clear. However these two are hardly alone in looking to get ahead of the 5G game and we can expect to see plenty more of this sort of thing in the coming months and years. Inevitably there were few 5G specifics although low-latency, which is expected to be a cardinal feature of the 5G standard, did get a mention.

“With commercial implementation expected from 2020, Ericsson’s 5G research is coming out of the labs and into live test networks,” said Chris Houghton, Head of Region Northeast Asia at Ericsson. We see tremendous opportunities in 5G, and we are mobilizing the ecosystem and collaborating with industry leaders such as China Mobile to help make 5G a reality.”

“China Mobile join hands with Ericsson on research and trials of 5G key technologies, leveraging China Mobile’s 5G joint innovation center as the platform,” said Huang Yuhong, Deputy Head of the China Mobile Research Institute. “Both companies target to explore the 5G possibilities in vertical industries and new use case scenarios, and together drive towards 5G commercial capability in 2020.”

The low-latency angle concerns emergency services, which is the most likely use-case for drone-enabled cellular connectivity regardless of the generation. Today’s Nokia drone test announcement, which was mere 4G, now seems hopelessly obsolete, but at least it concerns a technology that actually exists.

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