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Polkomtel, the Plus network operator belonging to Cyfrowy Polsat Group (GCP), already has over 70 base stations with 5G infrastructure installed. The operator continues to build its Non Stand Alone (NSA) 5G network using the 2600 MHz frequency.
Investment at the halfway point
In accordance with the plans presented in January 2020, the Plus network operator is working on the construction of a 5G network on the 2600 MHz TDD frequency. GCP has a separate 50 MHz block dedicated for the 5G network purposes only. From the technical point of view, the first stage of construction of the 5G network has already passed halfway. The 5G transmitters have been installed on over 70 base stations. At the same time, intensive work is underway to prepare a hardware offer for customers. In Plus laboratory, routers and smartphones supporting 5G in 2600 MHz band undergo tests. The network is built based on solutions provided by two manufacturers: Ericsson and Nokia (depending on previous 4G network locations, for which the suppliers were responsible in Poland). The commercial launch of 5G by Plus is planned to be announced when the operator launches commercial stations and the terminals operating in the network are located in points of sale.
Differences between Plus and Play 5G networks
Interestingly, GCP has decided to emphasize the difference between the 5G network it is building and the network which is announced by another Polish MNO – Play. We did not take part in the 5G media tests, which are not important from the users’ point of view. Unlike the variant of sharing one 2100 MHz band between 4G and 5G in spectrum sharing technology, our network will provide additional capacity for our customers – said Piotr Szymanowski, Deputy Director of the Marketing Strategy Department at GCP.
This means that the implementation of 5G in the TDD technology in the 2600 MHz band implemented by the Plus network and 5G implemented in the 2100 MHz band in the spectrum sharing technology should not – according to GCP representatives – be “thrown into one basket”. The 5G infrastructure built by Plus provides new, additional network capacity designed to handle the increasing amount of transmitted data. In the case of bandwidth sharing, the base station has to share the same bandwidth between 5G and 4G customers, so to give something to the former it has to take something to the latter. The radio bands are not made of rubber, and the use of spectrum sharing technology does not mean that the number of available resources is increasing.
Plus, like other operators, it also has the ability to quickly and massively run 5G on a spectrum sharing basis. Possible availability of this technology in the Plus network will be related to the availability of subscriber equipment on the market and the analysis of its real usefulness for users.
2600MHz to provide better 5G coverage
As GCP emphasizes, the difference compared to 5G networks that will run on 3400-3600 MHz after the upcoming auction of UKE is narrower band used. In turn, the advantage of the 2600 MHz frequency is better propagation properties of radio waves. Certainly, as in the case of LTE Advanced, the next stage of development of the 5G network will be the possibility of aggregation of radio bands, i.e. combining them in order to obtain even better data transmission parameters by an operator with adequate radio resources. In other words, thanks to the use of the 2600 MHz band, the 5G network built by Plus will provide better coverage than in the case of using only the 3400-3600 MHz band, and the possibility of combining the bands will allow to maintain the advantage in the next stages of building 5G based on new frequencies and their refarming.