Europe's first 5G fixed wireless access trial runs in London

August 01, 2017 //By Julien Happich
Following a statement of intent in February, UK communications infrastructure company Arqiva and Samsung Electronics have launched what they believe to be the first field trial of 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) technology in the UK and Europe, from a central London location.

Powered by Samsung’s 5G network solution and customer premises equipment (CPE), and using Arqiva’s 28GHz millimetre wave (mmWave) spectrum, the 5G FWA system consists of three main components: a radio access unit located on the rooftop of Arqiva’s Fitzrovia office wirelessly links to an easily installable CPE or router located by a window inside Arqiva’s nearby headquarters. Samsung’s system, which implements intelligent beam-forming technology and high-frequency mmWave spectrum, then provides high bandwidth connectivity.

In commercial implementations, the compact access unit can be mounted on lampposts or similar street furniture to provide reliable gigabit-per-second service to neighbourhoods and businesses alike. The final component is Samsung’s virtualized core – responsible for managing user connections and data routing from Arqiva’s network to the internet – which is running on Arqiva’s data centre servers.

The primary aim of the trial is to demonstrate the stability of the FWA service, and its potential as a fast-to-market and cost-effective alternative to fibre for connectivity to homes and businesses. Despite a link distance of several hundred meters, the system has established a stable two-way mmWave link with downlink speeds of around 1Gb per second at the CPE. For example, this bandwidth would allow the simultaneous streaming of more than 25 UHD 4K TV channels, well over the needs of today’s typical household.

The two companies hope to further maximise the performance capability of the system, improving the value of future network infrastructure and spectrum investments.