Orange and its vendor partners have published details of its 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) trial in Romania. The trial, which is the first in Europe, was announced back in February and started operations at the beginning of June.
The multi-vendor environment was always intended to run for just a month, to demonstrate how 5G can complement existing fibre deployments to deliver high-quality and high-speed bandwidth services.
‘This was a test that brings us closer to the future.’ – Liudmila Climoc, CEO of Orange Romania
Speaking at a recent event, Yves Martin, CMO of Orange Romania, said they had registered 15 “real” customers in the city of Floresti to test set-up and operation, as well as applications that included gaming, video streaming and remote working. “Some customers tell us it’s even better than fibre, especially in terms of multiple connections,” he said.
Fifteen might not be many, but it was enough for Orange and its partners Cisco and Samsung to sample customer reaction to 5G FWA and to experiment with the network architecture in a reasonably controlled environment.
“This was a test that brings us closer to the future,” said Liudmila Climoc, CEO of Orange Romania (translated), “an opportunity to better understand how the technology performs in real-world use, the challenges that may arise in the implementation of new technologies and the benefits it can bring our residential or business customers.”
Samsung supplied a virtualized RAN, 5G radio access units and multiple indoor and outdoor 5G routers (CPE), plus 5G radio frequency planning services.
Cisco supplied its Ultra Gateway Platform with 5G virtual packet core on top of NFV Infrastructure, deployed with Control and User Plane Separation (CUPS) for better throughput and flexibility. It also provided its Meraki Z3 home WiFi routers. Samsung and Cisco have been partnering since 2017 on 5G interoperability tests. A fibre backend connected to the Orange data centre.
“We wanted to test the technology maturity in a real-life environment with real customers,” said Ștefan Slavnicu, CTO, Orange Romania, speaking at yesterday’s event. “There were some challenges with the installation, such as re-thinking the transport solution. We had the fibre experience over a wireless solution, with very good installation speed. 5G FWA service coverage was even higher than we had computed in simulations.”
Orange Romania had access to the 26GHz mmWave band for the trial period, and used Massive MIMO and beamforming from the access points. The telco says it was able to achieve coverage beyond 1km at 1Gbit/s speed for a single user in real live conditions. Measurements in these conditions also show aggregated cell downlink throughputs of 3Gbit/s with four simultaneous users, although the system capacity is significantly higher.
“Thanks to this first successful test of 5G FWA in the 26GHz band, Orange has been able to verify several use cases enabled by this technology,” said Arnaud Vamparys, SVP, Radio Networks and Microwaves, at Orange.
“We can now better understand the way in which this technology works in real usage environments in order to complement wireline solutions. This is a major step in driving forward the development of 5G in Europe and Africa,” Vamparys said.
“With 5G we have the opportunity to help service providers like Orange broaden their portfolios to deliver new levels of connected experiences for consumers, businesses and governments,” said Yvette Kanouff, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Service Provider Business, Cisco.
“Our work with Samsung and Orange on this project is a great example of how we are enabling an innovation eco-system to test and deliver a broad range of 5G services that will offer the communities in Romania faster connections to more devices and applications that make their lives better.”