Who and how tests 5G network in Poland?
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For a year now, first tests of the 5G network in Poland have been conducted in non-laboratory conditions, performed directly by mobile operators. Polish MNO networks test the new technology mainly using frequencies in the 3.4-3.8 GHz band. So far, UKE has issued 5G testing licenses in nearly 15 Polish cities.
3.4-3.8 GHz frequency auction approaching: operators on a test offensive
The topic of 5G networks in Poland is being discussed more and more vividly on many levels – in terms of measurable benefits of technology for the Polish economy, national security or the impact of next-generation infrastructure on citizens’ health (the issue of PEM standards). Next year the auction for the first frequencies of the 5G network in Poland is to start. At the turn of June and July, blocks in the 3.4-3.8 GHz band will be available for distribution. In turn, the commercial implementation of 5G networks by mobile operators is to take place in the second half of 2020.
In recent periods, Polish mobile operators have been actively working to prepare for the implementation of the 5G network. These include the development of a network of base stations in the LTE network, bandwidth optimisation and frequency aggregation, as well as investments in fibre-optic networks, and pilot tests of fifth generation mobile technology in the largest Polish cities. There are both closed and non-laboratory tests, i.e. in real-life conditions. The latter require special UKE licenses. So far, the Office has issued 5G testing licenses in nearly 15 Polish cities. MNOs have been testing the new technology for a year, mainly in the 3.4-3.8 GHz band.
Orange tests 5G using a supplier diversification strategy
The first operator to undertake 5G field tests in Poland for real users is Orange. In September and December 2018, Orange conducted two phase tests of the new technology using a base station installed in Gliwice. The station operated on the basis of 100 MHz band in the 3.4-3.6 GHz band. The supplier of the 5G test base station launched in Gliwice was Huawei. In February 2019, thanks to the tests in Zakopane, Orange Polska also tested the capabilities of the new technology in the 26-28 GHz millimetre band (the highest frequencies that are currently planned to be used in Poland for the purposes of the 5G network). The Swedish Ericsson supplied the testing equipment. What is more, during the announcement of the financial results for the first half of 2019, Orange announced that further closed 5G technical tests are already underway in Warszawa and Lublin. According to unofficial information, Nokia is the technological partner of the operator’s tests in Lublin. In Warszawa, Orange cooperates with Ericsson. Orange announced that it plans to launch open 5G network tests in Warszawa next week, on 10 September.
Orange tests 5G with the participation of various suppliers, so that the operator wants to choose the optimal solution from the point of view of its own network and customer needs.
Apart from the cities listed above, Orange received permits from UKE for locating and testing 5G base stations in Katowice, Bytom, Chorzow, Piekary Slaskie, Kolobrzeg and Koszalin.
T-Mobile is the first MNO to test 5G in Warszawa
In December 2018, T-Mobile launched a test network of several 5G masts in Warszawa. The installation consisting of five 5G transmitters was delivered by Huawei. T-Mobile rented a 100 MHz band in the 3.4-3.6 GHz frequency band from UKE for testing. In addition, T-Mobile has a permit from the regulator to launch test 5G transmitters in Kazimierz Dolny and Katowice.
P4: first tests in Torun in cooperation with Huawei
At the end of June 2019, P4 started pilot tests of the 5G network in Torun. The operator launched 5 sectors using a 100 MHz channel in the 3.5-3.6 GHz band. The entire infrastructure is built on Huawei equipment. P4 under the signed letter of intent will also be the operator of the 5G test network built for the business accelerator in the Lodz Economic Zone with the participation of the Lodz University of Technology and the Swedish Ericsson.
The Cyfrowy Polsat Group is breaking out
Polkomtel, which belongs to the Cyfrowy Polsat Group, is cautious when it comes to communicating information on the ongoing tests of the 5G network in Poland. The operator admits that it is preparing to implement the 5G network on many layers, including through closed technical tests conducted for over two years. Nevertheless, Polkomtel is the only one of the most important players on the market that has not yet conducted 5G network tests in non-laboratory conditions, i.e. in actual use.
Suppliers of telecommunications equipment also test 5G network
The first 5G network tests are also conducted by manufacturers and suppliers of telecommunications equipment. They were carried out by Ericsson in Krakow (28 GHz), Nokia together with UKE in Sopot (28 GHz) and – together with Orange – in Warszawa. In addition, Ericsson holds permission from the regulator to launch test transmitters in Lodz (700 MHz and 3.4-3.6 GHz).