T-Mobile continues to lead the pack in its journey to build a standalone (SA) 5G network. The company recently announced several “world-first” milestones while naming Cisco, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, OnePlus, and Qualcomm as partners in their endeavors.
Most operators launched their 5G networks using 4G LTE, also known as non-standalone architecture (NSA). In a recent statement, T-Mobile said that the future of 5G performance is tied to SAs, as they will allow 5G to reach its full potential of fast speeds and ultra-low latency.
“Powerful and reliable wireless networks are more important than ever, and these milestones mark a huge step forward for the entire wireless ecosystem,” said T-Mobile President of Technology Neville Ray in a statement. “Standalone 5G, paired with the broad and deep network we’re building by combining the assets of T-Mobile and Sprint, will accelerate 5G adoption and services and transform wireless!”
In 2019, T-Mobile became the first carrier to launch nationwide 5G coverage to 200 million people using its 600 MHz spectrum. T-Mobile said that their most recent 5G achievements were possible because of a multi-vendor production core on its commercial 5G network. This has laid the groundwork of their SA network to come later this year.
Both SA and NSA 5G devices were connected to the same cell and were operating with active sessions at the same time during recent tests. T-Mobile said, “And importantly, all of T-Mobile’s recent tests were conducted with unflinching standards for employee and partner safety and health.”
The network also conducted a SA 5G data session between commercial modems from two suppliers using a production network with Qualcomm, Nokia, MediaTek, Ericsson, and Cisco. Another experiment conducted was making a voice call on the low-band SA 5G using Evolved Packet System (EPS) fallback to VoLTE with MediaTek, Nokia, Ericsson, and Cisco. This is important because it will enable high-quality voice services using VoLTE in the SA architecture, while voice-over new radio (VoNR) 5G technology catches up.
A video over new radio (ViNR) call was conducted on a production network with Qualcomm, Nokia, Ericsson, and Cisco in addition to a low-band VoNR call conducted with Nokia, MediaTek, Ericsson, and Cisco.
T-Mobile also noted additional 5G firsts with a commercial smartphone on production network including the first call with EPS fallback, first VoNR, and ViNR calls, as well as the first low-band SA 5G data session with Cisco, Ericsson, Nokia, OnePlus and Qualcomm.
Samsung was notably excluded from the vendor list, however, it’s still undetermined how Samsung will be integrated into the newly merged network.
Moving to a SA 5G network is not synonymous with T-Mobile, other carriers around the world including AT&T and Verizon are expected to launch SA networks by the end of the year.