EE completes UK's first 5G lab test

The company teamed up with Huawei to provide end-to-end 2.8Gbps service

EE has announced it's been successful testing an end-to-end mobile 5G network in a lab environment, achieving download speeds of 2.8Gbps.

The company also had support from Huawei, which provided its proof-of-concept 5G baseband unit and a 64x64 massive multiple-input, multiple output (MIMO) antenna, hooking it up to a fully virtualised 5G core.

It was tested on 100 MHz of the 3.5GHz spectrum, which has been set up for testing such environments. EE hopes the architecture its solution is built upon (Option 3 of 3GPP Release 15) will be finalised for use next month and receive the complete go-ahead for use early next year.

The use of virtualised core network technologies meant it could achieve greater efficiencies alongside reduced costs, making it a more commercially viable way of presenting 5G services to customers in the future.

"We're using our experience in cutting edge 4G technologies and our dedicated partnership approach to ensure technology leadership in 5G," said Tom Bennett, EE Director of Network Services & Devices. "The network architecture we've proven today is a huge step forward, and will drive our ambitious rollout timetable to be first for 5G."

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EE explained the key breakthrough was delivering a consistent 2.8Gbps downlink with sub 5ms latency, which is the first time this has been achieved end-to-end, rather than just over the air.

EE has already demonstrated its pre-5G network, which was set up using the company's patent-pending Helikite solution, which is comprised of mini mobile sites attached to a helium balloon to fill gaps in 4G mobile coverage where sites have been damaged.

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