Orange Spain switches on 5G SA network dubbed 5G+

The Spanish arm of telco group Orange has deployed a commercial 5G SA network in several cities, with more to follow this year.

The network will be available in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Seville, and Orange claims it is the first operator to deploy a commercial 5G SA network in Spain. 90% coverage is promised in these cities, and more locations are going to be plugged in over the course of 2023.

There will be no extra charge for Orange users to use 5G+, but initially at least they’ll need either a Samsung S22, Xiaomi 12, Xiaomi 12T, S22+, S22 Ultra or Xioami 12 Pro series handset to connect to it.

Orange says it has spent €531 million buying up 5G frequencies in all bands throughout the various auctions from 2016 to the most recent one in December 2022, and we’re told it is the operator with the most spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band.

5G+ is also good news for business customers, we are told in the release: “In addition, for enterprises, 5G+ meets the need for flexible, scalable, reliable and secure connectivity for real-time applications. Through its network slicing capability, Orange’s network will be able to offer virtual networks that will be responsible for allocating the necessary network resources to guarantee the provision of critical services or meet specific customer needs, offering different levels of quality, availability, privacy and security.

They’re flogging it as 5G+, implying an enhanced form of 5G, though the release describes 5G SA as a ‘standard that completes the deployment of 5G technology’ – which is more true to what it is, in that it does not layer on top of on bits of 4G tech as normal 5G does today.

There is no extra charge for 5G+ in this instance, but for the aforementioned (and other) reasons, the marketing around 5G SA and also mmWave is going to be tricky for general punters who are not familiar with the inner workings of the industry and the particulars of how this roll out was executed, and who may simply assume they already bought 5G years ago.


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