Orange has announced it is starting to bounce with excitement over the prospect of 5G, opening up a few new test sites across Europe.
With new sites in Linas-Montlhéry, Lille and Douai, as well as Romania, the Orange team are shifting through the gears. As you probably would have expected, these sites will be testing out a wide range of usecases, though built around the three prongs of the Orange 5G vision; high-speed mobile broadband, high-speed fixed broadband access and new applications to support the digital transformation of businesses.
“5G is truly going to revolutionize usages,” said Mari-Noëlle Jégo-Laveissière, Executive Director of Innovation, Marketing and Technologies at Orange.
“It will enable mobile broadband speed up to 10 times faster than 4G, provide very high speed fixed access and will make possible new services that we are now starting to design and test with our partners. This is the beginning of transformation that will affect the whole of our society and lead us towards a genuinely 5G Generation.”
Starting over in Linas-Montlhéry, the team will work alongside vehicle certification business UTAC Ceram to move forward one of the most emblematic applications of 5G; autonomous vehicles. To start with, Orange will provide 4G+ connectivity to the area, while also working with Ericsson to build the necessary 5G functionalities for autonomous vehicles. This test network is set to open in the autumn of 2018.
Looking at the super-speedy mobile internet side of things, over in Lille and Douai Orange will be working again with Ericsson to lay a test network for the explosion in media. Whether it is augmented reality or 4K video, this test site will be geared towards the consumers ever-increasing consumption of multimedia content. Timelines for this test are a bit more hazy, as the team are waiting on French regulator Arcep to dot the i’s and cross the t’s, but the network should be up and running by early 2019 at the latest.
Finally, over in Romania broadband will be taking centre stage. Partnering with Samsung and Cisco the team will test out how 5G could be used as an option where fibre has not been laid. Fixed Wireless Access has been a talking point for the industry for some time, and while there are a number of plausible usecases, it is still a pipe dream. For countries like Romania, a breakthrough with this technology could be very promising.
While Orange has been laying fibre demonically in France and Spain, the trenching has not been as prominent in areas like Romania. The telco does have a strong presence in the market, so adding ultrafast broadband would be priority to the convergence strategy, but a cheaper alternative to laying fibre would be a win. Should the team be able to make a breakthrough in the FWA space, it certainly would be a backslapping moment.
Orange is looking like one of the telcos are the front of the pack in terms of 5G readiness, and R&D efforts like this will only cement its position as one of the leading telcos worldwide.