BT announced Monday that it has successfully tested four component-carrier (4CC) carrier aggregation on a 5G Standalone (SA) network in commercial frequencies. Using EE’s live network, BT said it and Nokia were able to combine four low-band and mid-band radio channels in and 2 GHz and 3 GHz range. BT claims to be the first operator in Europe to achieve this feat, calling this particular demonstration of advanced carrier aggregation “a major leap forward” for the evolution of 5G. Carrier aggregation is seen as the key to achieving optimal data transmission speeds for 5G.
“As we migrate to a 5G standalone core network, this technology milestone is vital to giving our customers the best experience” commented Greg McCall, Managing Director of Service Platforms at BT.
Working in collaboration with Nokia, BT’s Networks team have successfully combined four low-band and mid-band radio channels, (2.1, 2.6, 3.4, 3.6 GHz), using Nokia’s 5G Radio Access Network technology in EE’s live network spectrum.
The trial was conducted in two stages; it was first performed in BT’s Radio Lab in Bristol, and then moved outdoors, onto a radio mast at BT’s Adastral Park in Suffolk, where the team successfully achieved 4CC on 5G SA radiating in EE’s regular radio spectrum. Not only is it the first time in Europe that a network operator has achieved 4CC on 5G SA using commercial spectrum, but it is also the first time it has been achieved outside of a lab in Europe.
Most 5G networks today are Non-Standalone (“NSA”), meaning 5G is supported by existing 4G infrastructure. 5G Carrier Aggregation (“CA”) over a standalone 5G network represents a major leap forward in the evolution of 5G infrastructure, effectively combining several transmission bands into one connection. Every new carrier added allows for higher capacity and speed directly to customer devices.
Greg McCall, Managing Director Service Platforms BT, commented: “Our trial with Nokia is another demonstration of building the most advanced network for our customers. 5G Standalone, coupled with edge compute, will unlock new opportunities for customers looking to develop new services. Furthermore, this technology showcases what’s possible for devices in the future in terms of supporting carrier aggregation, which is an important part of customer experience.”
“Carrier Aggregation (CA) means combining or aggregating several carriers within or across available frequency bands – referred to as component carriers – for achieving higher data rates. Each additional component carrier increases the available bandwidth and, therefore, improves throughput. In the case of carrier aggregating Frequency-Division Duplex (FDD) and Time-Division Duplex (TDD) spectrum together, this also enables a value-adding solution that “stretches” the site coverage area that can offer those higher data rates,” said Nokia.
Mark Atkinson, SVP, Radio Access Networks PLM, Nokia, commented: “We are once again delighted to be deepening our partnership with BT, supporting them with our industry-leading Carrier Aggregation technology for this trial. Nokia and BT have a long history in investing in cutting-edge technologies and this trial is another example of what our companies can achieve together.”
Greg McCall, managing director of service platforms at BT, said the test showcases demonstrates his company’s commitment to building out the most advanced mobile network.
“5G Standalone, coupled with edge compute, will unlock new opportunities for customers looking to develop new services,” said McCall.
In May, Australian mobile operator Optus, Nokia, and Samsung Electronics Australia announced a successful test of three-component-carrier (3CC) CA technology over a 5G SA network. At the time, Nokia noted its commitment to prioritize the development of 5G carrier aggregation across the sub-6 GHz 5G spectrum. At the time, Nokia used its latest commercial AirScale Baseband and radio portfolio over Optus’ commercial network. The trial combined the FDD band (2.1 GHz) with the TDD band (2.2 GHz + 3.5 GHz) using CA technology.