BT Group, Nokia and Qualcomm combined for what was claimed as the first test of 5G carrier aggregation using five components in Europe, a technology expected to achieve improved capacity and greater downlink speeds for users in high demand areas.

The trial took place at BT’s R&D facility on live spectrum using Nokia kit and a device sporting a Qualcomm Snapdragon modem. It formed part of the operator’s preparation for the launch of its EE brand’s standalone 5G network later this year.

Tests of the system achieved downlink speeds of 1.85Gb/s using three FDD carriers aggregated with two TDD ones. They had a combined bandwidth of 150MHz.

Nokia and BT claimed the use of five component-carrier carrier aggregation (5CC CA) would boost data rates in high demand areas by “combining all mid-band radio spectrum” when a standalone 5G device requires high-speed connection.

When EE’s standalone network launches the operator will also have the ability to use a “low frequency sixth carrier to provide a superior experience in more places, including indoors,” the duo added.

The test represents the latest demonstration of carrier aggregation conducted between the partners as BT prepares to launch standalone 5G, a technology the operator’s chief networks officer Greg McCall has highlighted numerous times as one it would not bring to market until it was able to provide a sufficiently differentiated service.

In its statement today, McCall said it wanted to build “further on the benefits of carrier aggregation in delivering greater throughput and speeds to customers. This is particularly important as more and more devices come to market with 5CC CA capabilities”.

“We are focused on maximising our spectrum assets to deliver the very best experience to our customers with that in mind,” he added.

UK rival Vodafone announced the limited launch of its standalone 5G network last year.