Ericsson hits 5Gbps in 5G labs demo

The first 5G network is expected sometime around 2020 in Japan or South Korea

Ericsson says it has succeeded in sending data at 5 gigabits per second over a wireless testbed for future "5G" mobile networks.

That's about 50 times faster than today's speediest LTE networks, which operate at around 100 megabits per second and are deployed in Asia and Europe. It's also considerably faster than home Internet connections, including those delivered by fiber optic cable.

But don't get too excited. The first 5G networks aren't expected to be deployed for around six years, likely beginning with a demonstration network in Tokyo to coincide with the 2020 Olympic summer games.

The Ericsson demo took place at the company's research and development lab in Kista, Sweden, under controlled conditions.

It was witnessed by representatives of Japan's NTT DoCoMo and South Korea's SK Telecom, both of which have announced plans to test 5G technology and are already working on future network technology.

One of the expected components of a 5G network will be short-range base stations that offer fast data over a small area at frequencies higher than those in use today.

Ericsson's demo took place at 15GHz, which is just such a frequency band. This arrangement is especially suited for heavily populated cities like Tokyo and Seoul, where multiple base stations will be able to provide fast data to users in a small area.

While carriers are already looking ahead to 5G, the roll-out of 4G LTE technology continues around the world. Ericsson said it estimates around 50 percent of mobile subscribers in South Korea and about 30 percent in Japan are already using LTE networks, the highest penetration rates in the world.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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