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CTO: Telefonica plans commercial 5G trials in 2019 or 2020

Telefonica said that it will initially use the 5G technology to offer IoT services

MADRID – Spanish telecommunications giant Telefonica expects to launch commercial trials of 5G technology in 2019 or 2020, the company’s global CTO, Enrique Blanco, told reporters.

The executive said massive deployments of 5G in the Spanish market would probably take place in 2020.

Commenting on the partnership with Chinese vendor ZTE in the 5G field, Blanco said that the plan with the Asian company is to launch a field trial of 5G technology in 2017 or 2018.

In June this year, the European telco had signed a memorandum of understanding with ZTE for the development of 5G technology and the transition from 4G. The deal between the two firms will enable more opportunities for cooperation across different industries in areas such as advanced wireless communications, internet of things, network virtualization architectures and cloud. Telefonica and ZTE will also launch a technical trial of 5G in the short term in Madrid. “We are working to be ready to launch this initial trial in October,” Blanco said.

“Our obsession at this time is to ensure that all the investments that we are making today in 4G, in terms of backhaul, microwaves, fiber, small cells, can be re-used for 5G technology,” the executive said.

“It is important to know that 5G is linked with capabilities in backhaul, core and transport, and that the core and the microwaves capabilities will be the main areas to develop before we decide to go to 5G,” he added.

Blanco also said that Telefonica’s view is that internet of things (IoT) will lead the way in terms of 5G offerings once this technology is commercially available. “We will start [5G services] with IoT,” the executive said. “Another key issue to take into account is to know when the first 5G-capable devices will be available.”

The executive also said that Asia will be the first continent to commercially deploy 5G services. “This happened with 4G technology and will happen again with 5G and we will learn a lot about this.”

Blanco also said that Latin America may have a different pace than Europe in the deployment of 5G in view of the experience in LTE and the maturity of markets.”

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