BT and Nokia claim European first

Combining four channels of spectrum on a 5G standalone network.

BT says that it has become the first operator in Europe to aggregate four carrier components (4CC) in a 5G Standalone (SA) live network. The breakthrough heralds the next phase of 5G on its EE mobile network, which will deliver superior experiences for customers and enable new capabilities for enterprises. “As we migrate to a 5G standalone core network, this technology milestone is vital to giving our customers the best experience” commented Greg McCall, Managing Director of Service Platforms at BT.

Working in collaboration with Nokia, BT’s Networks team have successfully combined four low-band and mid-band radio channels, (2.1, 2.6, 3.4, 3.6 GHz), using Nokia’s 5G Radio Access Network technology in EE’s live network spectrum.

The trial was conducted in two stages; it was first performed in BT’s Radio Lab in Bristol, and then moved outdoors, onto a radio mast at BT’s Adastral Park in Suffolk, where the team successfully achieved 4CC on 5G SA radiating in EE’s regular radio spectrum. Not only is it the first time in Europe that a network operator has achieved 4CC on 5G SA using commercial spectrum, but it is also the first time it has been achieved outside of a lab in Europe.

Most 5G networks today are Non-Standalone (“NSA”), meaning 5G is supported by existing 4G infrastructure. 5G Carrier Aggregation (“CA”) over a standalone network represents a major leap forward in the evolution of 5G infrastructure, effectively combining several transmission bands into one connection. Every new carrier added allows for higher capacity and speed directly to customer devices.

Greg McCall, Managing Director Service Platforms BT, commented: “Our trial with Nokia is another demonstration of building the most advanced network for our customers. 5G Standalone, coupled with edge compute, will unlock new opportunities for customers looking to develop new services. Furthermore, this technology showcases what’s possible for devices in the future in terms of supporting carrier aggregation, which is an important part of customer experience.”

Mark Atkinson, SVP, Radio Access Networks PLM, Nokia, commented: “We are once again delighted to be deepening our partnership with BT, supporting them with our industry-leading Carrier Aggregation technology for this trial. Nokia and BT have a long history in investing in cutting-edge technologies and this trial is another example of what our companies can achieve together.”

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