Hong Kong mobile operator SmarTone and Swedish equipment vendor Ericsson announced they are running the city’s first 5G test bed and committed to develop a mobile technology innovation hub by end-2017.
The live demo at SmarTone’s facilities uses 4×4 multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) on the 15GHz band to achieve peak download speeds of 5.7Gb/s. SmarTone CTO Stephen Chau (pictured above on left) said it is using the prototype 5G test bed to evaluate how millimetre wave spectrum performs in the city’s environment. It plans to upgrade the system to 8×8 MIMO, which will double the transmission speed.
SmarTone selected the 15MHz band because it was easy to obtain approval from the Office of the Communications Authority (less than two weeks) and it is a “promising band that’s not too high”, Chau said.
The demo uses 400MHz of spectrum. Hong Kong allocated a total of 612MHz of spectrum for all mobile operators, which Michael Lee, Ericsson’s CTO for Hong Kong and Macau (pictured above, right), said clearly shows the amount of spectrum which will be required for 5G services.
Chau said the two companies will jointly develop the innovation hub in Hong Kong to encourage cross-industry collaboration and develop potential 4.5G/5G use cases and vertical applications. He added the hub will also push application development in the areas of mobile, IoT and cloud.
The executive noted SmarTone is preparing to launch its Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) network soon, after implementing an upcoming software upgrade. He expects compatible terminals to be available by mid-2016.
The operator also showed off a robot (pictured), which was controlled from the cloud via a simulated 5G network. The proof-of-concept demo used real-time analytics to balance the robot with the latency set at 10ms. The robot lost balance when the latency was increased to 30ms.
SmarTone is the smallest of four operators in Hong Kong and holds a 16 per cent market share. In November 2016 it hired Ericsson as the sole supplier of core and radio access networks in a five year deal which Chau said paved the way for 5G in the city.