Paris La Défense preps 5G neutral-host and use-case trials in 26 GHz mmWave bands
Paris La Défense, the major metropolitan business district in Paris, has called for applicants to run 5G neutral-host and use-case trials in 26 GHz mmWave spectrum at its site in the French capital. The two trial streams will be open, respectively, to public mobile network operators, and the broader digital ecosystem, covering, nominally, developers of autonomous mobility services, smart energy grid systems, various e/tele-health solutions, sundry IoT monitoring and tracking deployments, and all manner of augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) cases.
A statement said La Défense, “or its forecourt at least” (paraphrased), where new 5G radio infrastructure will be deployed, is to become a temporary “5G lab” for 26 GHz experiments, open for around 10 months from the end of the year (December 2022), through to late next year (September 2023). The business district, three kilometres west of the city limits, was selected in 2019 along with 14 other “Paris players” by French telecoms regulator ARCEP as a test site for development of new 5G infrastructure models and new 5G application scenarios.
As part of the French government’s broader post-coronavirus France Recovery plan, ARCEP has issued experimental frequencies in the high-frequency 26 GHz band, which offers lower-latency cellular connectivity with lower penetrative range than standard low- and mid-band 5G deployments. Finnish vendor Nokia is engaged already, somehow, with La Défense on 26 GHz experiments, as part of its ARCEP-approved private 5G R&D work in France, also looking at the 2.6 GHz and 3.8-4.2 GHz bands, with the likes of Airbus, SNEF, and the Port of Le Havre.
Meanwhile, UK telecoms integrator Colt Technology Services is leading a private 5G consortium at the iconic PB5 La Défense building in Paris, which also includes Accedian, ADVA, Airspan, and Athonet. Their project is to test end-to-end private cellular in a real estate environment in France. The setup uses a disaggregated architecture, and focuses on a number of smart building and co-working use cases, with a bearing also on related verticals, notably construction, retail, and healthcare.
The new 26 GHz experiments at La Défense will be carried out with Efficacity, the French R&D institute for urban energy and ecological transition, founded in 2014 under the auspices of the French government’s ‘investments for the future’ (PIA) programme, as well as EQUANS, the French utility company owned by ENGIE and headquartered in La Défense. France-based urban (‘smart city’) planning outfit SIRIDEL, also owned by ENGIE, is engaged as well, along with Spanish tower company Cellnex, which owns Finland based private networking specialist Edzcom.
Applications for the twin projects are open until September 26 and October 24, to join the neutral host and use cases streams respectively. A statement said the former will “test the feasibility and viability of a neutral operator scheme, and provide turnkey access to operators so they can bring their connectivity… Selected operators will have to test integration in MOCN (multi-operator core network) mode with another network, and check the properties of propagation and the possibilities in terms of service quality offered by the 26 GHz band”.
The latter experiments, to “take place on the forecourt”, will rely on four lamp posts, a statement explained. “One will be equipped with a 4G antenna, using the 2.6 GHz LTE TDD band, which will be used as an anchor band (B38) to the 5G network. The other three will be equipped with 5G mmWave small cells in the N258 band (26 GHz) which will broadcast 5G SA in 360 degrees… [The 26 GHz band] opens the way to completely new uses which could eventually modify the landscape of urban services.”