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Elisa Claims World’s First Commercial 5G Network Launch

With the advent of a new generation of network technologies come the inevitable battles over “firsts” — and Finnish mobile telephony operator Elisa has now claimed to be the first operator in the world to begin commercial use of a 5G network, complete with subscription sales in Finland. Middle East telecom group Ooredoo, however, claimed last month that it was the first with a commercial 5G network, with a launch of what it claimed to be first the world’s first live 5G network on the 3.5 GHz spectrum band. Etisalat also said in May that it had launched its commercial 5G network in the United Arab Emirates — although it doesn’t expect to start selling devices and services until later this year.

The telco said that the 5G network was launched in the cities of Tampere, Finland and Tallinn, Estonia. Elisa, which operates in Finland and Estonia said that the first person to use the 5G network was Anne Berner, Finland’s minister of transport and communications. She who made a video call to Kadri Simson, minister of cconomic Affairs and infrastructure in Estonia. Elisa said the 5G terminal device used in the video call was provided by Chinese vendor Huawei.

“We aim to make Finland the leading nation as a developer of 5G mobile services. The Ministry of Communications is ready to allocate the first 5G licenses in the 3,400–3,800 megahertz frequency band in autumn, which will make Finland among the first countries in the world to start building 5G networks,” said Anne Berner, Minister of Transport and Communications.

It was unclear from the operator’s announcement what spectrum the commercial 5G devices and network were using.  Elisa also said it is testing and developing applications and services that use new 5G features. The company said it has also been updating its networks to be 5G-ready across Finland.

In February this year, Elisa carried out a 5G test in the city of Helsinki in partnership with Huawei. During the test, a 5G network was tested in a moving car simultaneously with two 5G terminal devices, which were provided by the Chinese vendor. The trial used the test network that Elisa built with Huawei and deployed in the 3.5GHz band.

The trial saw a terminal being carried in a vehicle, which travelled across the Pasila area in Helsinki, reach download speeds of 1 Gbps and upload speeds of 400 Mbps, the Nordic carrier said.

The Finnish carrier had also previously virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and gaming applications on a 5G testbed, achieving speeds of 1.4 Gbps between the base station and the device.

“5G makes it possible to use completely new applications in areas like transportation, health care, energy efficiency improvement and entertainment. Finland is already among the global leaders in the use of mobile data,” Elisa’s CEO Veli-Matti Mattila said. “Elisa actively enables Finland to continue leadership in mobile data usage by opening commercial 5G network first in the world. With the help of 5G services, consumers as well as corporate and institutional customers will get lots of new value when modern applications can be used more efficiently and it becomes possible to develop new applications.”

Elisa has operations in Finland and Estonia. The telco serve over 2.8 million customers who have  6.2 million subscriptions. – RCR Wireless

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