Nokia, along with Qualcomm and Elisa, celebrated a throughput record as part of a 5G demonstration. But this required the use of special frequencies, which are not yet a reality for individuals.
It is an undeniable technical success. But do not expect to benefit very quickly from this kind of performance on a daily basis. The demonstration that Nokia, Qualcomm and Elisa have just completed in terms of 5G took place in very special circumstances, with special frequencies, which we will not see in France for years.
In this case, the three partners announced on June 21, 2022 having broken the 5G uplink throughput record, i.e. from the terminal used for the test to the antenna. Radar speed? 2.1 Gbps. The test took place in Finland, not far from the cradle of Nokia – a city also bears the name of the industrialist. It is more precisely at the Nokia Arena, in Tempere, that the transfer took place.
The three partners used a carrier aggregation technique. In other words, they mobilized several frequency bands within the electromagnetic spectrum to optimize the data rate circulating between the terminal and the antenna. In 2020, a similar record was reached, this time on a downlink, at 8 Gbit/s.
The American equipment manufacturer Qualcomm specifies in a press release that this will offer Elisa, Finnish telecommunications operator, the prospect of offering high-performance and low latency services which will improve the experience of people visiting the Nokia Arena. However, it will take a year for this solution to be fully deployed, it is specified.
A spectacular demonstration, but on particular frequencies
The speeds displayed by this type of test are obviously spectacular and are enough to turn some heads. However, it should be remembered that this feat says nothing about the real speed that we can expect on a daily basis in 5G. Even in an optimistic scenario, the capacity of the 5G cell tower is divided by the number of people actively using the cell.
In addition, it should be noted that the demonstration of Nokia, Elisa and Qualcomm mobilized a particular portion of the spectrum, namely the 26 GHz band. This is where we find the so-called millimeter waves (mmWave), that is to say whose wavelength (the difference between two peaks) ranges from one centimeter to one millimeter. This concerns frequencies from 24 GHz and up to 86 GHz.
However, the actual deployment of frequencies established on millimeter waves for the benefits of 5G is not for tomorrow. In any case, in France. The telecoms regulator opened consultations on the 26 GHz band in 2018, but the landscape has not changed since. No attribution campaign has been launched. There is no active network today in the country.
The deployment of the 26 GHz band is not the absolute priority of either the operators or the regulator, even if this file will one day impose itself on the table – it is a subject that will really arise in a few years, especially since it carries other issues such as the compatibility of relay antennas, which will have to be adapted and interference with other uses of this band.
The lack of haste can also be understood with regard to the technical specificities of the mmWave frequencies. Certainly, they deliver incredible speeds and the record of the three partners is there to remind us. However, these bands cover the interior of buildings very poorly and have a limited range outside. To cover a territory, it’s not great.