5G development is continuing apace the world over, struggling toward the industry’s projected commercial launch date in 2020. The entire world seems to be getting in on the action as we've seen development throughout Asia, Europe and North America. Now, one more participant has joined in the research and development, as Nokia signed a collaboration agreement with Russian telecom firm MTS (News - Alert) Group.
The unusual point about this collaboration is its endpoint, which is sooner than some might think. This collaborative effort is geared toward bringing out a complete test network for 5G at an international sports event to take place in the country in 2018. One major sports event set to take place in Russia in 2018 was the FIFA World Cup, though that's not specifically confirmed.
MTS Group, meanwhile, has a specific thought in mind: to focus on building a network that's prepared not only for greater demands from individuals, but from devices. It's working on a plan to move its networks to 5G readiness, and it's brought in Nokia to help it develop new systems like LTE (News - Alert) Advanced Pro along with 5G outright. Additionally, some new capacity and range improvements are also set for testing, like LTE Unlicensed (LTE-U) and Licensed Assisted Access (LAA).
Given that the Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to mean between 10 and 100 times more devices connected than people—including the various sensors, cameras and suchlike that commonly make up an IoT application—it needs a network that can withstand substantial stress testing. The collaboration agreement also specifically notes plans for IoT-related projects.
With the 5G test network coming in 2018, those attending the event at a Russian football—and likely “football” in the “soccer” sense—stadium will be able to get in on new breeds of video and other services while present, which should also give the test network a real trial by fire.
There's certainly no shortage of ambition in rolling out a test network to cover the FIFA World Cup, if that is indeed what's slated. The 2014 World Cup had huge network issues, with even ESPN (News - Alert) forced to admit it was having problems streaming the World Cup match between the United States and Germany because a huge number of people were streaming the match in question. It might be a bit too much of a test for a network that isn't commercially-available, especially at this stage of its development, but if it can handle the World Cup it can likely handle deployment most anywhere.
The Nokia (News - Alert) / MTS Group agreement may have a reach that exceeds its grasp, but in a case like this, that may be a good thing, spotting problems before wider deployments emerge. The World Cup is a major test, if that's where it's being tested, and it will certainly show any issues in advance.
Edited by Peter Bernstein