Nokia Networks and SK Telecom pair up on millimeter-wave 5G

Nokia Networks and South Korean carrier SK Telecom have signed a new collaboration deal around the development of 5G, which will see the companies work on the mobile broadband technology at SK’s Bundang facility near Seoul.

The companies’ existing 5G collaboration has already seen them jointly develop new “Cloud vRAN” virtualized base station technology. Now they’re going to work on “cmWave/mmWave” wideband communications, which they say will support “gigabit-class” data transmission in the airwaves north of 6.5GHz. Nokia has already said it will set up a 5G test network in its native Finland.

According to Nokia and SK, their 5G tech will be demonstrated in 2018 and ready for deployment a couple years later. Regulators such as the U.K.’s Ofcom are also pegging 2020 as the likely start date for 5G’s materialization.

5G remains a poorly defined thing for now, as the relevant standardization bodies are still dealing with what various vendors and carriers want it to be. However, there does seem to be increasing momentum behind its use of millimeter-wave frequencies, which provide a lot of bandwidth, although work will be needed to get them carrying data over sufficient distances.

Meanwhile, over in the U.K., a new consortium featuring carriers EE and Deutsche Telekom, as well as vendors such as Bluwan and Thales, started work on a new kind of millimeter-wave transmission tech earlier this month.

The EU-funded consortium is called Tweether (“Travelling Wave Tube based w-Band Wireless Networks with High Data Rate Distribution, Spectrum & Energy Efficiency”) and it’s trying to develop a point-to-multipoint broadband delivery system in the 92-95GHz range. This is much higher-frequency spectrum than what’s being eyed for 5G, though, and the technology would be used for backhaul rather than servicing mobile devices directly.

This article was updated on January 23rd to change “north of 6GHz” to “north of 6.5GHz”, based on SK Telecom’s advice.