Qualcomm Technologies, Ericsson and AT&T announced plans to conduct interoperability testing and over-the-air field trials, following the expected 5G new radio (NR) specifications being developed by 3GPP. Using spectrum from AT&T, the trials will include operation at 28 and 39 GHz, using the wide bandwidths at these frequencies to achieve multi-gigabit per second data rates.

Device and base station prototypes will be provided by Qualcomm and Ericsson, respectively. The system configurations will include multiple-input-multiple-output (MIMO) antenna technology with adaptive beamforming and beam tracking. The tests will use scalable OFDM-based waveforms and a new flexible framework design that are expected to be part of the 5G NR specifications.

Simulating real world use cases and deployment scenarios, the three-company collaboration will investigate millimeter wave propagation, including non-line-of-sight (NLOS) environments and device mobility. The tests are expected to yield insights into the unique challenges when using millimeter wave spectrum for mobile networks and devices.

By collaborating, Qualcomm, Ericsson and AT&T intend to accelerate 5G deployment based on standards-compliant NR infrastructure and devices. The interoperability testing and trials are slated to begin in the U.S. starting in the second half of 2017 and will track the release of the first 3GPP 5G NR specification, expected to be part of Release 15.

Tracking the 3GPP specification is important because it promotes adherence to and validation with the global 5G standard. This approach will reduce the time to achieve standard-compliant devices and infrastructure. Complying with the initial 5G NR standards will ensure that the technology will work correctly with future 3GPP updates.

The global 5G standard is planned to cover both the sub-6 GHz and millimeter wave spectrum.

“The roadmap of 5G technologies is complex, and collaborations such as this are critical to ensuring timely deployment of 5G networks,” said Matt Grob, the executive vice president and chief technology officer of Qualcomm Technologies. “The 3GPP-based trials we are planning with AT&T and Ericsson will help us accelerate integration of advanced 5G new radio technologies in form-factor accurate devices.”

Ulf Ewaldsson, the chief technology officer of Ericsson, said, “This important 5G standard-based trial collaboration will demonstrate compliance to 3GPP and support the accelerated commercialization of the global 3GPP 5G standard.”

Tom Keathley, senior vice president of wireless network architecture and design at AT&T, said, “We look forward to working with Ericsson and Qualcomm on these standards-based trials as we continue to accelerate standards efforts and move down our 5G evolution path.”