BT hailed progress with its move towards commercial standalone (SA) 5G after completing a carrier aggregation (CA) trial combining four spectrum channels on mobile operator EE’s live network in collaboration with network partner Nokia.

The UK-based operator claims to be the first operator in Europe to aggregate four carrier components in a live SA 5G network and indicated the trial was conducted in two stages: first in a laboratory and then on an outside radio mast at a different site.

BT MD of service platforms Greg McCall described the completion of the trial as a “technology milestone” as the operator migrates to an SA 5G “core network”.

McCall further noted SA 5G, “coupled with edge compute, will unlock new opportunities for customers looking to develop new services”.

BT already conceded it would unlikely be the first player in the UK to launch commercial SA 5G, targeting a launch in early 2023 when it believes the technology will provide a tangible improvement for users.

Nokia rival Ericsson recently noted only around 20 mobile operators globally had launched SA 5G networks by the end of 2021, but tipped the figure to double this year.