Making 5G real – as seen by TMN

The best fuzzy pictures from 2018's 5G field trials, from Cluj to Bristol, London's docklands to Wembley.

As CES coverage is already making clear, 2019 is going to be the year of 5G – again. But even as the hype still seems to run ahead of actual real world use cases there have, in fact, already been a lot of live 5G demos, not to mention many more field-based tests.

Here’s TMN’s look back at some 5G trials and tests in 2018, as we experienced and reported on them at the time.

First, we get on the bus. This bus trip with Three and Huawei wasn’t exactly a tour, a mystery or perhaps magical, but it was good solid tech as test UEs maintained connection during handover from a handful of roadside 5G base stations. Decent.

Get on air. This BT Sport demo of pitchside broadcasting at Wembley Stadium via a rooftop 5G antenna showcased a potential “use case” – substituting lots of cabling and on site OB production trucks with high speed wireless and real time links to an off site production studio.

Get in the box. TMN was one of the first media titles to get a close look at EEs 5G demo, live from a glass box in London’s Canary Wharf. Video viewed over the 5G CPE Huawei home router was slick, but the 8T8R test UE platform was lightning.

Get 5G in your home. This FWA trial by Orange in Romania, using Samsung 26 GHz equipment to link up to real people’s houses and apartments, went pretty well. Orange still likes the look of FWA 5G for some of its markets.

Get smart. That wasn’t all from Romania. A couple of hours down the road Orange is tinkering with a few different Smart City technologies – LTE, WiFi, LoraWAN and LTE-M. City authorities are interested in a smart city 5G slice, whatever that would be.

Up on the roof. Ericsson’s 3.5 GHz and 28 GHz antennas.

Get set. This set-up of a range of demos from Kings College London was a bit more “developmental” and experimental, with things like remote surgery and music making on the demo floor, but it certainly included a live 5G radio link via rooftop antenna. Plus there was a link-up with two other sites to create an interconnected test bed.

Get wet. This Bristol showcase in the rain was more about 5G experience and proving out an edge-core 5G architecture than actual 5G NR (the demo mostly used LTE and WiFI), but there were Nokia 5GTF antennas as well as a 128 element array at 3.5 GHz in attendance.

Get on the ball. Finally, let’s not forget this gutsy Vodafone UK demo of a footballer being beamed as a hologram onto a stage in front of a live audience. Footballer in Manchester, cynical press audience in Newbury. A lot could have gone wrong but it didn’t. And although it was obviously engineered to hell and back, each end of the demo included a section of 5G radio links – making it a 5G demo in our minds.

So that was 2018 in 5G demos, as seen by TMN. Look out for more in 2019.