Microwave Journal
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T-Mobile Achieves Significant 5G Firsts with Cisco, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, OnePlus and Qualcomm

May 5, 2020

T-Mobile U.S., Inc. announced several important world’s first milestones for standalone architecture (SA) 5G. These achievements, using the Un-carrier’s newly built 5G core, bring T-Mobile closer to taking its nationwide 5G network to the next level. In tech terms, SA 5G will eliminate the need for a mid-band LTE anchor, cutting out some of the limitations experienced today. Simply stated, it’s the future of 5G. SA will allow 5G to reach its full potential by increasing coverage and laying a foundation for game-changing applications that can utilize blazing fast speeds, real-time responses and massive connectivity.

Inventing the future takes a village, so T-Mobile partnered closely with leaders across the industry to notch several “world-first” achievements:

  • The first SA 5G data session between commercial modems from two suppliers on a production network with Cisco, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia and Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.
  • The first low-band SA 5G voice call using Evolved Packet System (EPS) fallback to VoLTE with Cisco, Ericsson, MediaTek and Nokia. This enables high quality voice services utilizing VoLTE in the SA architecture while the industry is fully developing voice over new radio (VoNR) 5G technology.
  • The first low-band VoNR call on a production network with Cisco, Ericsson, MediaTek, and Nokia. VoNR allows for voice calls to run over 5G.
  • The first video over new radio (ViNR) call on a production network with Cisco, Ericsson, Nokia and Qualcomm Technologies. ViNR allows for high quality video calls to run natively, instead of an over the top data service. 
  • Finally—several 5G firsts with a commercial smartphone on a production network, including the first low-band SA 5G data session, first call with EPS fallback and first VoNR & ViNR calls. These were pulled off alongside Cisco, Ericsson, Nokia, OnePlus and Qualcomm Technologies.

All of these milestones were achieved with T-Mobile’s new multi-vendor 5G production core on the Un-carrier’s commercial nationwide 5G network, and they pave the way for the Un-carrier’s launch of standalone 5G later this year. During the tests, standalone and non-standalone (NSA) 5G devices were operating with active sessions at the same time in the same cell. And importantly, all of T-Mobile’s recent tests were conducted with unflinching standards for employee and partner safety and health.

Standalone is the next evolution of 5G network architecture. Current 5G networks are built on non-standalone network architecture, meaning 5G signals rely on underlying mid-band LTE and leverage the LTE core. This means 5G devices can connect to 5G and LTE simultaneously, delivering better mobile broadband speeds and performance than LTE, but the full promise of 5G can’t be unlocked. With standalone 5G, the LTE core is no longer required and the full power of the next generation SA core can be unleashed. This will enable 5G to reach its true future potential with low latency, higher speeds and massive connectivity, making a world of amazing new services and applications possible.

"Powerful and reliable wireless networks are more important than ever, and these milestones mark a huge step forward for the entire wireless ecosystem,” said Neville Ray, President of Technology at T-Mobile. “Standalone 5G, paired with the broad and deep network we’re building by combining the assets of T-Mobile and Sprint, will accelerate 5G adoption and services and transform wireless!"