Streaming in Seoul
Taxis, bus drivers and relieved parents may soon be playing high-quality videos to their passengers while driving through busy city centers. A 5G trial in Seoul in February 2018, which involved the streaming of 4K video to and from a moving car, demonstrated the real-world potential for this kind of service.
During the trial, Ericsson, Intel and Korea Telecom connected a moving car to a live 5G network as it drove through the dense urban environment of the South Korean capital. Speeds were impressive – of more than 900 Mbps download, while simultaneously permitting 600 Mbp/s to upload. To put this in perspective, the current 4G standard tops out at around 100 Mbps when downloading, and around half that for uploads.
South African telecoms group MTN completed the first outdoor 5G trial on the African continent in May 2018. The field test used Huawei's5G 28 GHz mmWave Customer Premises Equipment at The Fields shopping center in Pretoria. MTN said the trial reached download speeds of 520 Mbps and uploads of 77 Mbps. The trial follows a MTN lab test using Ericsson hardware in Johannesburg January 2018.
Texas trial for AT&T
How does 5G function once it's out of the lab and in the real world? AT&T, one of the US's four main telecoms providers, has been rolling out 5G trials across the country over the last couple of years. Its biggest yet came last December, at homeware store Magnolia Market in Waco, Texas.
AT&T conducted the trial with its own hardware using millimeter-wave spectrum and 5G radio and antenna prototypes, delivering super-fast internet to around 5,000 visitors and customers per day. Using 5G could potentially improve payment times at shopping centers by enhancing the connectivity of point-of-sale systems, which transfer data over the internet, as well as back office devices.
Vodafone's 5G "milestone"
The UK has officially joined the 5G era, with its first major trial of the technology taking place in April 2018. Vodafone, which carried out the test of the 3.4 GHz radio frequency between Newbury and Manchester, marked the occasion as a "major milestone" for the UK telecoms sector.
Vodafone was testing "Massive MIMO" (multiple input and output) technology, which uses antennae to boost signals and capacity – which is essential for making 5G work. The first results suggest this will allow for a huge expansion in capacity – supporting up to 1,000 more devices per meter than 4G.
Finnish 5G revolution
Finnish telecoms provider Elisa says it has helped Finland win the race to become the first country on Earth to make 5G mobile internet available to consumers and businesses. The company has built 5G networks in Tampere, Finland and Estonia's capital, Tallinn, and says it has already started selling subscriptions.
To prove the network's capabilities, Finland's Minister of Transport and Communications Anne Berner had a video call with her Estonian counterpart in June. Berner says Finland wants to be the world leader in 5G technology.
Read more about why tougher security protocols will be required for 5G as it opens itself up to a wider range of attack surfaces