Optus, Ericsson test NB-IoT, 4G and 5G on 700MHz

13 July 2021 | Melanie Mingas

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Optus has claimed a world first in testing dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) between multiple radio access technologies.

Using the 700MHz spectrum layer, Optus and Ericsson delivered coexistence of narrow band IoT (NBIoT) and Ericsson Spectrum Sharing between 5G and 4G.

As a result of the trial, Optus said it can now further extend its 5G coverage footprint over a wider area, while leveraging the recent implementation of FDD+TDD 5G carrier aggregation on the mid-band spectrum to bring "super-fast 5G speeds" to its 5G customers.

Optus Networks' MD, Lambo Kanagaratnam, said: “To ensure we offer our customers the best 5G network possible, it’s important to innovate together with our technology partners. This test has shown that our 5G coverage footprint on our world class network can be extended without compromising 4G and NBIOT customer experience and is the first step in being able to carefully introduce this technology.

"The test also highlights the ability to achieve spectrum efficiency through enabling multiple services and technologies on the same spectrum resource,” Kanagaratnam added.  

Ericson said DSS – or ESS as the Ericsson Spectrum Sharing is called – when used on the 700MHz spectrum band will maintain the 4G and NBIOT user experience "while significantly extending the reach of 5G coverage for 5G users", both indoors and outdoors.

“Ericsson Spectrum Sharing is a unique solution that enables innovative service providers like Optus to roll out 5G more quickly. It helps to maximise equipment reuse and existing spectrum while rapidly delivering 5G services, paving the way for faster time-to-commercialisation of a new generation of business and consumer opportunities – from augmented and virtual reality to eSports streaming,” said Martin Wiktorin, Ericsson's head of global customer unit, Singtel.

Singtel subsidiary Optus launched its 5G commercial network in late 2019. It currently has more than 1,300 5G sites across Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Canberra as well as key areas outside of Australia's major cities.

At the other end of the spectrum, Optus is also working on mmWave performance.

Together with Ericsson and Casa Systems, Optus recently achieved a network milestone when it reached peak speeds of over 5Gbps in a controlled environment at its Sydney headquarters, followed by 4.5Gbps in a live commercial environment in Sydney’s Kings Cross.

This was all achieved using a Casa Systems' AurusAI commercial CPE device on commercial Ericsson Radio Access Network.

“We can’t wait for our customers to start connecting to our mmWave 5G network as commercial devices become available later this year. These speeds are truly incredible and alongside the other benefits of mmWave will help to open- up a raft of new applications for both consumers and enterprise,” added Kanagaratnam.  

Steve Collins, SVP of access devices at Casa Systems added: “Fixed Wireless Access technology plays a significant role in connecting our communities across Australia. Casa Systems’ disruptive approach pushes the boundaries of 5G, opening up new services for consumers and businesses. This collaboration with Optus and Ericsson demonstrates the successful track record of our best-of-breed high-power mmWave CPE solution, the AurusAI.”