KPN has successfully tested the latest 5G standard in its network; 5G Standalone. This makes the promise of even higher speeds, improved latency and new technologies such as network slicing a reality.
Halfway through 2020, KPN introduced 5G via the 700 MHz frequency band. This is now available throughout the Netherlands and KPN’s network has been tested as the best 5G network in the Netherlands. To date, however, 5G still works together with 4G, for example, smartphones combine 5G and 4G frequency bands and the core network does not yet work according to the latest 5G standards.
“With the introduction of 5G standalone (SA), 5G will become a independent technology for both radio and core, says Erik Brands, director of Mobile Networks at KPN. This means smartphones will only use 5G frequency bands and the core network is fully dedicate to this new 5G standard. This is important because many future functionalities of 5G will be driven from the heart of the network. The arrival of 5G standalone will bring the next evolution of 5G with higher speeds and improved latency. In addition, it enables network slicing with which part of the network (a “slice”) can be optimized for a particular use case.”
Thanks to a test license of the 3.5 GHz spectrum in combination with 5G standalone, KPN demonstrated a cloud gaming application in Breda together with technology partner Ericsson, whereby a video game can be played remotely via the mobile network. Multiple antenna sites in the area were used for this. During the test, all data was exchanged in real time between the player and the gaming platform that runs in a data center. For gaming, speed and response times (latency) are critical factors, that could make the difference between winning and losing. During the test, a download speed of almost 1 Gbps and a latency of only 14 milliseconds were achieved, considerably better than with the current 5G non-standalone standard.
5G and the combination of 3.5 GHz and the new 5G standalone standard enable new applications. For consumers, this means increased network capacity and higher throughput, but also improved latency, which is beneficial for cloud gaming applications. The applications for business customers are very diverse, ranging from intelligent transport systems to precision agriculture or applications in logistics and manufacturing, where robots are controlled using 5G technology.
The 3.5 GHz frequency is scheduled to become available in the Netherlands at the end of this year. 5G standalone will be gradually introduced by KPN in 2024.
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