Vodafone and Huawei have jointly completed the world’s first call using the Non-standalone (NSA) 3GPP 5G new radio (NR) standard and sub6 GHz spectrum. The call, using a test network, took place in Spain just ahead of Mobile World Congress.
The standards organisation 3GPP agreed the Non-standalone global standard for 5G as part of its ‘Release 15’ in December 2017.
In the test, a dual connectivity 4G to 5G live data call was completed using a test device. The connection started on 4G and then established the data connection on 5G. The engineers also successfully tested a live HD video call using the same route.
The test is believed to be the first demonstration of all end-to-end elements of a 5G call (not just data over a 5G connection, but also all the control information required to set up the call and route it between 4G and 5G networks). A 5G NR end-to-end test network was built to undertake the trial and used 3.7GHz spectrum. Huawei Radio Access Network (RAN) and core network equipment was deployed to support the test with micro-service centric architecture, control plane / user plane separation, unified access and network slicing technology.
Santiago Tenorio, Vodafone’s Group Head of Networks Strategy and Architecture, said:
“This is a significant milestone for Vodafone towards the introduction of 5G. The credit for this must go to the engineers in Huawei and Vodafone who have worked tirelessly since December. This successful test will enable us to move forward with further trials of 5G across Europe during 2018.”
Yang Chaobin, President of Huawei’s 5G product line, said:
“Huawei is fully committed to the further development of this end-to-end 5G network technology. This test result shows the maturity of 5G based on the 3GPP standard. We are ready to continue our collaboration with Vodafone and enter commercial trials.”
Dr.Peter Meissner, CEO and Member of the Board, NGMN Alliance said: “This first 5G call has been achieved only two months after 3GPP completed the Non-standalone NR standard and so is much sooner than most in the industry were expecting it to happen. This sends out the very promising signal to the world that the industry is ready to introduce 5G services for customers in due course.”
The test call will be demonstrated throughout Mobile World Congress on the Vodafone stand in Hall 3 (3D 30).
AppDate: uKheshe bring banking to the masses
In his apps roundup, SEAN BACHER highlights uKheshe, FNB’s banking app with its will feature, Split Payments, Momentum Safety Alert and Fleetonomy.
uKheshe micro transaction platform
Financial inclusion took another step forward as local start-up, uKheshe, South Africa’s cheapest and most convenient QR cash card and micro transaction platform, won the 2019 Global Fintech Hackcelerator @ Southern Africa competition.
“The issue of financial inclusion is a global one and the more we can do to uplift the unbanked and under banked, the healthier their respective economies will become,” says Clayton Hayward, co-founder, uKheshe.
While 1.2 billion people have opened a financial account since 2011, there is still an estimated 1.7 billion adults worldwide (or 31% of adults) who don’t have a basic transaction account. Globally, two-thirds of adults without an account cite a lack of money as a key reason, which implies that financial services aren’t yet affordable or designed to fit low-income users.
To find out more about uKheshe click here
FNB’s banking app with will feature
First National Bank now lets its customers draw up their own wills via the FNB Online Banking platform at no cost. To date, the bank has seen a significant increase in the number of clients who drafted their own wills online, with over 52 000 clients already accessing the functionality.
Approximately 80% of South Africans don’t have a valid will in place; and many people believe that it’s a need only when they get older, or later in life.
“Whilst the digital process is simple and easy to use, the solution also helps with a dedicated client support centre should clients need further assistance or advice regarding the drafting of their wills,” says Johan Strydom, Growth Head, FNB Wealth and Investments. “The solution aims to simplify the process and allows customers to easily draft a will online anytime and at any place, at no cost. In addition, FNB will keep your original will in safe custody at no extra cost.”
Platform: Android and iOS
Expect to pay: A free download
Stockists: Available the FNB app which can be be downloaded here.
PayFast has launched Split Payments, a South African-first that instantly splits a portion of an online payment with a third party. The service is designed to facilitate fast, safe payments for platform-based businesses, including online marketplaces.
For those who run a marketplace that brings together multiple sellers or merchants looking for new sales channels, Split Payments addresses payment headaches with a simple API integration.
Consumers are used to engaging with large global transactional platforms such as AirBnB, Uber, and Amazon. The benefits and extended reach of these types of platforms are catching on locally, and organisations like estate agency groups and even community marketplaces are setting up digital trading platforms.
The app allows businesses to instantly split out commission, membership or listing fees, when a payment is made via one of its supported payment methods.
For each online payment received the business can determine what the split is, either a fixed amount, a percentage, or a combination of both. Custom recurring payment integration, such as subscriptions payments, can also be split automatically.
Platform: iOS and Android
Expect to pay: A free download
Stockists: Download Split Payments here
Read more about Momentum’s new Safety Alert app and Fleetonomy.
Why 4G is still a thing
Even with the 5G era already upon us, investment in 4G/LTE networks is still vitally important for operators in sub-Saharan Africa and must remain a core focus of network construction for the immediate future. This is according to David Chen, Vice-President, Huawei Southern Africa.
“Currently, the mobile broadband penetration rate in Africa is only 47%, while 4G penetration rate is merely 10%,” Chen said.
“Insufficient coverage causes LTE users to fall back to the 2G or 3G networks, resulting in significant decline in user experience. It also leads to congestion on the 2G and 3G networks and makes it difficult to release spectrum used by 2G and 3G.”
Chen said that LTE and 5G complement each other and are evolving in parallel. In the next few years, 5G will mainly be used in more industrial communications.
LTE will remain the primary choice for global mobile communications through 2025. It will form the basic layer of national networks, especially when it comes to the mobile broadband access.
“It will take a long time for 5G to provide nationwide continuous coverage. Before that, enhanced LTE networks can guarantee optimal user experience for 5G users, including services such as VR, AR, and cloud gaming,” said Chen.
He said that it is important for operators to invest in 4G to secure future growth, as it is estimated that there will be an additional 80 million LTE users in sub-Saharan Africa by 2025.
Driven by this growth, LTE traffic in sub-Saharan Africa will increase by a factor of 8.8. By 2025, about 80% of all data traffic in the region will be over an LTE network.
LTE will also be the main source of future revenue for operators.
“According to GSMA Intelligence, 2G and 3G users in sub-Saharan Africa will gradually migrate to 4G,” said Chen. “By 2025, the proportion of 2G users will drop from 46% to 12%.”
Part of the reason for the migration to 4G is because the ecosystem is mature.
“The price of feature phones supporting VoLTE in the sub-Saharan Africa market has been as low as $25,” Chen said.
Since 5G equipment is already available, there is an opportunity for operators to build out their 4G networks while ensuring that they can evolve to 5G in future.
Chen offered the following tips to operators to ensure they are ready for 5G:
- All future equipment installations should be 5G ready, allowing easy upgrades to 5G through software updates.
- Software should support multi-standard spectrum sharing to improve spectrum efficiency, and to allow the smooth migration of 2G and 3G users.
- Networks must support 4G and 5G coordination, in terms of spectrum, operation and maintenance. This will ensure that users have a consistent experience as we enter the 5G era.
- The value of existing ICT infrastructure, such as base station sites, must be maximised to avoid overlapping services and wasted resources. This would mean boosting the capacity and coverage of every station for optimum efficiency.
- Carriers should explore the business case for all possible 5G innovations when building 4G networks, and not just embrace 5G for its own sake. This will mean building business models around IoT, video, live broadcast, augmented reality, and virtual reality.
- It is important that operators build partnerships with providers that can support the ongoing spectrum evolution with fast site upgrades and large-capacity solutions. The idea is to maximise the value of 4G networks, and smoothly evolve to 5G without unnecessary infrastructure investment.