Noting that it will be able to deliver superior experiences for customers and enable new capabilities for enterprises over its EE mobile network, BT has has become the first operator in Europe to aggregate four carrier components (4CC) in a 5G standalone (SA) live network.
Effectively combining several transmission bands into one connection and ensuring that every new carrier added allows for higher capacity and speed directly to customer devices, 5G carrier aggregation (CA) over a standalone network represents a major leap forward in the evolution of 5G infrastructure.
In the trial, BT’s networks team worked in collaboration with Nokia to successfully combine four low-band and mid-band radio channels – in the 2.1, 2.6, 3.4 and 3.6GHz ranges – using Nokia’s 5G radio access networks (RAN) technology in EE’s live network spectrum. MediaTek’s M80 5G modem was also used in the trial.
“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.
Greg McCall, BT
The trial was first performed in BT’s Radio Lab in Bristol, and then moved outdoors, onto a radio mast at BT’s Adastral Park research base 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.
“Our trial with Nokia is another demonstration of building the most advanced network for our customers,” added McCall. “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.”
Mark Atkinson, senior vice-president of radio access networks PLM at Nokia, said: “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.”