Telefónica has followed Orange with the official launch of a 5G standalone (SA) network in more than 700 towns and cities throughout Spain. The service is branded Movistar 5G+ even though it is just 3GPP defined real 5G (with its own core network , rather than 5G NSA which uses LTE core network). The new Telefónica 5G SA network uses Ericsson and Nokia network equipment. Huawei has been excluded from it because the European Commission wants to ban Huawei in the EU for its alleged espionage work for the Chinese government.
Telefonica said its 5G NSA service in the 700 MHz band is currently available to around 85 percent of the Spanish population across 2,200 municipalities. The Spanish operator also uses the 3.5 GHz band for 5G and invested EUR 20 million to secure the maximum possible 1 GHz of spectrum in the 2.6 GHz band.
“Movistar customers will be able to enjoy 5G+ automatically and at no additional cost both in large cities and in small municipalities thanks to a highly capillarity deployment that will allow ultra-fast speeds and very low latency to be obtained in practically all of Spain,” the company explained in a statement.
The launch of 5G+, which offers greater coverage and browsing speeds of up to 1,600 megabits per second (Mbps), will take place within the scope of Movistar’s deployment in the 3,500 MHz band. In practice, 5G+ translates into better mobile experience in content downloads at the speed of fiber optics, streaming High quality and uninterrupted gaming. It also offers greater coverage in crowded spaces such as a sporting event or a music concert, according to Telefónica.
Movistar currently covers a total of 11 cities with 5G SA: Madrid, Barcelona, Malaga, Seville, Palma de Mallorca, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Ávila, Segovia, Castellón, El Ferrol and Vigo. The goal for the end of the year is to have “extensive 5G SA coverage in most cities with more than 250,000 inhabitants,” as well as in smaller towns, so that the capillarity of the service continues to be consolidated. However, in order to enjoy this service it is necessary to have a mobile that supports 5G SA. For the moment, Movistar has the new Xiaomi terminals to which new brands will be added.
Gabriel Brown, principal analyst at Heavy Reading, notes that Movistar operates the biggest network in Spain and has the largest number of live 3.5GHz sites, according to the independent AntenasMoviles website.
Said deployment is completed with the coverage in the 700 MHz band that Movistar has been offering since last year and currently reaches more than 2,200 municipalities, with advantages such as improved indoor coverage. The so-called low band is complemented in 5G with that of 3,500 MHz, ideal for services that require a user experience at a very high transmission speed, both for rural areas and large urban centers. In this way, Movistar already offers 5G coverage to more than 85% of the population, reports the company.–
Orange leads 5G SA coverage as it already reaches more than twenty cities that cover 30% of the population in Spain. In the case of Vodafone and MásMóvil, 5G SA is expected to be available before March 2024.
Heavy Reading’s Brown said, “It will be interesting to see if this gives it an edge in SA. Orange Spain, meanwhile, says it will launch network slicing before the end of the year.”
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