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Russian telecom operators deploying 5G NSA

Moscow DIT has created Russia’s first 5G laboratory for solving urban problems. This is a unique platform on the basis of which any company, from startups to already mature organisations, can test their solutions for free and demonstrate them to the city, says Eduard Lysenko, Moscow City Government Minister.

What percentage of Russia is already exposed to the power of 5G networks?

— Russia has not yet started the commercial implementation of 5G. This is primarily due to the fact that, before investing in the deployment of commercial fifth-generation networks, the key players in the telecom industry are testing the technology itself and the services that can be implemented on the basis of 5G. For this purpose, since 2018, telecom operators have been actively creating a pilot and testing 5G zones in different cities. The largest number of pilot zones is in Moscow – about 30.

The work within the pilot zone allows to work out scenarios of interaction between 5G and previous generation networks, to study its possibilities and application scenarios. Thus, operators can analyse which solutions will be in demand among users. And the users, in this case, can be both the subscribers and the cities themselves because the fifth-generation communication technologies will make it possible to implement fundamentally new projects in the areas of urban services, security, culture, tourism, education and healthcare.

5G is going to bring multiple new use cases to life; what’s Moscow doing to lead with the development of new use cases?
— By solving the problems of the city economy using 5G-based services, the Moscow City Government can act as an anchor customer of such solutions and stimulate the development of the telecom industry. And this, in turn, will have a positive effect on the quality of the services that operators provide to citizens. Therefore, we have defined four priority areas in which the city is particularly interested in using fifth-generation communication networks, and we actively support companies in searching for scenarios for using 5G in these sectors – healthcare, transport, security and education.

For this purpose, Moscow DIT has created Russia’s first 5G laboratory for solving urban problems. This is a unique platform on the basis of which any company, from startups to already mature organisations, can test their solutions for free and demonstrate them to the city. In the future, these solutions can be tested in a real urban environment, and the most effective ones can be put into commercial operation.

For example, in Moscow 5G Demo Center, three projects have already been tested: the solution to visualise and work with BIM-project at the construction site in real-time, the project to create a multifunctional complex for the needs of drones based on computer vision algorithms and the solution of wireless optical communication technology FSO, where instead of radio frequencies for data transmission uses a laser.

Another important direction for Moscow is the creation of industrial 5G test sites. The agreement on it in June on the St.-Petersburg international economic forum was signed by the mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin and the largest Russian communication operator. 5G testing grounds are the real city territories, where a full-fledged network of the fifth generation is deployed, and the complex of digital decisions on the basis of 5G is tested. The Moscow government created the first testing site on the basis of Botkin Hospital. It will make it possible to test and implement new solutions and developments in this area in Moscow healthcare as quickly as possible.

Which spectrum has been primarily used by the operators in russia/moscow to bring 5G networks to life?
— Currently, the operators are testing networks in the 4.4-4.9 GHz and 27 GHz bands.

Moscow already has a ton of live public Wi-Fi hotspots; Does that help the telecom operators in avoiding mobile network congestion?
— Today, there are more than 22 thousand access points to the City Wi-Fi Network in Moscow. Undoubtedly, they partially take the load off the mobile network, but the key goal that the city sets for itself by developing Wi-Fi is to give residents and tourists the opportunity to use the Internet for free to communicate, study and solve everyday tasks. This corresponds to the ‘city-as-a-service’ concept, according to which Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin’s team is developing the capital as a smart city. We do everything to ensure that the citizens have the opportunity to get the digital services they need at the right time, and the City Wi-Fi Network helps create the conditions for this.

How soon do you think 5G networks would be available pan-Russia?
— According to the federal roadmap, mass commercial networks should be deployed in Russia by 2024. In Moscow, we expect 5G networks to appear as early as 2022.

Are the telecom operators in Russia/Moscow deploying 5G NSA or 5G SA?
—In Moscow, operators are deploying 5G NSA networks. This solution allows to use of the basic advantages of the fifth-generation networks and test 5G services at the relatively low cost of telecom infrastructure modernisation.

Will Russia allow Chinese vendors such as ZTE or Huawei in its network ecosystem going ahead?
— I understand that this question is of particular interest to your readers against the background of statements that ZTE and Huawei have not received permission to test 5G in India. As for Russia, at the moment, our country has federal restrictions on the use of foreign solutions in 5G networks. If foreign companies, not only Chinese ones, decide to localise 5G production in accordance with the requirements of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, they will be able to participate in the construction of 5G communication networks.

Are you tracking the 5G developments happening in India?
— Of course, Moscow DTI is closely following the development of 5G in different countries. Together with the city’s digital technology portal, ICT. In Moscow, we publish a monthly digest of global news in this area, which regularly includes reports on the progress of 5G network tests in India. We also do an annual review of new global 5G practices. Just recently, we published such a review for 2021. It includes more than 140 cases from 34 countries, as well as an analysis of 5G applications in the world. I am sure that in the next digest, we will see promising practices implemented in India.

Does everyone in Moscow already have 4G coverage?
— In Moscow, 4G coverage reaches 99%, i.e. high-quality cellular communications and mobile Internet are available throughout the city. Thanks to this, Muscovites can use the entire range of the city’s digital ecosystem and commercial services options at any convenient time. According to DIT analysts’ statistics, over 90% of Moscow residents use the Internet, of which over 70% are users of various online services.

The digital activity of Muscovites and their confident mastery of online tools stimulates many major players in the capital’s IT market to pay even greater attention to the quality and variety of their digital products. Ultimately, this leads to the development of digital ecosystems not only of the city but also of private companies, the emergence of new online solutions that make life in the city even more comfortable and convenient.

For example, in terms of the level of cellular operator ecosystems development, Moscow is among the top five in the world. Such results were obtained in the course of Moscow DIT research, in which ecosystems of 30 telecom operators from the 11 largest megacities of the world were compared, including Tokyo, Singapore, Beijing, London, Berlin, Paris and others.

How will 5G help Moscow with its smart city plans?
— Moscow is already one of the smartest megacities in the world. Technology is being introduced here in absolutely all sectors of the urban economy and the social sphere, and residents can resolve virtually any everyday issue online at any time and from any device. The further development of Moscow as a digital megalopolis involves the use of artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality and the Internet of Things.

It is these technologies that will make the existing digital tools for managing the city even more effective, quicker and more precise. And their implementation is inextricably linked with the deployment of 5G networks because it is the fifth-generation network that allows for the required signal transmission speed and simultaneous operation of a huge number of devices, which is especially important for IoT-based solutions.

What are the technological breakthroughs that Russia/Moscow has already achieved with 5G?
— It is too early to talk about breakthroughs, but the groundwork that we are now creating together with telecom operators and research institutes will undoubtedly allow us to maximise the effect of the introduction of 5G once it appears. TelecomTalk

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