Ericsson and U.S. Cellular, the fifth largest operator in the United States, achieved peak speeds of 8.5Gb/s in a new series of 5G tests at 28GHz, the pair announced.

The recent trial was conducted in rural and suburban environments around Madison, Wisconsin, and included tests of advanced beamforming and Massive MIMO technology. Ericsson noted U.S. Cellular’s tests used radios positioned at a macro antenna height of 123 feet, reportedly a first among US operators.

In addition to testing regular mobile use, the pair also trialled VR applications. A peak speed of 4Gb/s was achieved in that scenario.

“This was an important trial for us to understand the propagation characteristics and path loss at 28GHz, and we are pleased with our learnings,” U.S. Cellular EVP and CTO Michael Irizarry said in a statement: “Our customers deserve to have a network that keeps up with their lifestyle, so we are constantly working to ensure that they will always have access to the latest technology and data speeds available.”

Earlier tests
Ericsson and U.S. Cellular previously teamed up on 5G trials at 15GHz in December 2016. Those tests achieved peak speeds of 9Gb/s at a distance of 787 feet and 1.5Gb/s at a distance of one mile.

While the latest tests are U.S. Cellular’s first look at 28GHz with Ericsson, the operator first explored the band in tests with Nokia in October 2016. The Nokia trials yielded peak speeds of 5Gb/s and latency under 2 milliseconds in both indoor and outdoor environments.

28GHz focus
U.S. Cellular’s exploration of 28GHz is in line with a broader focus on the band among US carriers, following the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) move to open the band for operator use in 2016.

Verizon recently announced a new set of millimetre wave tests with Qualcomm and Novatel Wireless meant to accelerate the commercialisation of 5G, and has also been conducting a fixed wireless 5G trial at 28GHz across 11 US cities.

T-Mobile US conducted its own 5G tests at 28GHz with Nokia, and AT&T tackled the band in collaboration with Qualcomm and Ericsson.

But interest in 28GHz isn’t limited to operators. Smartphone vendor Apple in May filed for permission from the FCC to test at 28GHz and 39GHz to evaluate device and cellular link performance in a 5G environment.