Home Telecoms & NBN Telstra, Ericsson and Intel's first 'end-to-end' 5G data call on 3.5Ghz spectrum on Australia's Gold Coast
Telstra, Ericsson and Intel's first 'end-to-end' 5G data call on 3.5Ghz spectrum on Australia's Gold Coast Featured

The first "end-to-end multi-vendor non-standalone (NSA) 3GPP 5G commercial network data call over licensed 3.5GHz spectrum" has been made at Telstra 5G Innovation Centre on Australia's Gold Coast, and billed as the first "true" 5G call in a real world environment.

Ericsson, Telstra and Intel say they have "successfully completed the first end-to-end 5G non-standalone (NSA) 3GPP data call on a commercial mobile network at Telstra’s 5G Innovation Centre on the Gold Coast Australia in a multivendor setup".

With this achievement, the companies have taken 5G out of the lab and into a real-world mobile network environment.

What, however, is a "non-standalone NSA" call?

Nothing to do with the US National Security/Surveillance Agency. EETimes quotes Qualcomm chief technology officer Matt Grob explaining in 2017 that “non-standalone 5G” is about a 4G-based “set-up” mode for 5G.

EEtimes' explanation continues, noting that "by introducing the concept of an 'intermediate' step, operators will be able to use the existing LTE radio and evolve packet core network under a configuration called 'non-standalone 5G NR'. This would allow the carriers to begin trials and deployments of 5G NR in 2019, rather than 2020. Meanwhile, they can add a new 5G radio access carrier to support 5G use cases from 2019 onwards".

So, it's at this point that we are reminded that Ericsson, Telstra and Intel's technologies meant this was the first call "of its kind over 3.5GHz spectrum, bringing together the core components from multiple companies required for a real commercial 5G network call".

"It included Telstra’s 5G NSA commercial network, licensed 3.5GHz commercial spectrum, Ericsson’s commercial 5G NR radio 6488, baseband and packet core for 5G EPC, a personal Telstra SIM card and the Intel 5G Mobile Trial Platform for the 5G NR UE."

We're also reminded that this milestone "quickly follows the 6 July lab-based data call by Ericsson and Intel, together with Telstra and other early-moving 5G service providers at the Ericsson Lab in Stockholm, accelerating efforts to deploy commercial 5G networks."

Telstra’s soon to depart Group managing director of Networks, Mike Wright, said: “Demonstrating this 5G data call end-to-end using my own personal SIM card on Telstra’s mobile network is the closest any provider has come to making a ’true’ 5G call in the real world-environment, and marks another 5G first for Telstra.

"We continue to work with global technology companies Ericsson and Intel as well as global standards bodies to advance the deployment of commercial 5G capability in Australia.”

Fredrik Jejdling, executive vice-president and head of Networks at Ericsson, said: “We’re quickly moving towards 5G commercial reality. Achieving the first commercial data call with our partners Telstra and Intel shows the progress we’ve made from testing the  technology in a lab to a 5G commercial network environment. 5G is open for business and Ericsson is helping customers get it done.”

Asha Keddy, vice-president and general manager, Intel Next Generation and Standards, said: “Along with Ericsson and Telstra, Intel continues to demonstrate its strong 5G technical capability, as showcased by this first 5G data call on commercial infrastructure deployed in Telstra’s network.

"Intel will continue to collaborate on 5G tests and multiple use cases ahead of Telstra’s planned 5G commercial launch that will bring powerful, low-latency and high-bandwidth experiences to consumers.”

Telstra proudly boasts the commercial data call is "the latest in a series of 5G milestones by Telstra to drive network leadership in Australia and provide customers with the next-generation mobile technologies".

Previous Telstra 5G firsts include:

"Ericsson, Telstra and Intel will continue to conduct 5G tests across multiple use cases ahead of the expected 5G commercial network launch by Telstra in early 2019." 

Technology background:

The 5G data call was made over Telstra’s 5G NSA-enabled commercial network using the following components:

  • Ericsson’s base station comprising Baseband 6630, AIR 6488 and 4G / 5G system software.
  • Telstra’s licensed 5G Band 42 (3.5 GHz) and 4G Band 1 spectrum (2100 MHz).
  • A Telstra retail SIM.
  • Network connection to an Ericsson virtualised 5G packet core (vMME and vEPG) running on Ericsson’s NFVi – the 5G slice was connected into the existing Telstra mobile network, which supports other functions such as backhaul, user authentication, billing and provisioning.
  • Intel 5G Mobile Trial Platform for the 5G NR UE, running an "early 3GPP Rel 15" Intel 4G module and a 5G NSA implementation.


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.


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