Orange launches two open 5G experimentation platforms


Orange will start testing in Châtillon and Rennes following ARCEP’s approval to assign experimentation frequencies

Following a call from the French telecoms regulator Autorité de Régulation des Communications Électroniques et des Postes (ARCEP), for companies to put forward plans for experimentation in the 26GHz band of spectrum for the future of 5G development, Orange is set to begin testing.

In January 2019, the French government and ARCEP issued a joint call for the creation of 5G trial platforms that would be open to third parties, and using the 26GHz band, aka the millimetre wave band. The aim of this call was to pave the way for all players to embrace the possibilities this frequency band provides, and to discover new uses for 5G.

Thanks in particular to its large bandwidth, the 26GHz frequency band should enable unparalleled speeds and new uses, and was identified as a “pioneer” band for 5G. The French government and ARCEP were therefore keen to encourage testing in real world conditions. Also, up until now, these millimetre wavebands have never been used for mobile networks.

Orange will start testing in Châtillon and Rennes following ARCEP’s approval to assign experimentation frequencies in the 26GHz band. For Orange, this call for projects is an opportunity to assess, in an open innovation way, the performances of these new frequency bands as well as the technical and environmental conditions in which those bands can be used.

It is also a chance to evaluate the benefits of this technology for innovative applications in very busy areas (railway stations, airports, stadiums, concerts, etc,) and to draw lessons for future developments of 5G.

The purpose of the 5G trial platform that Orange has planned for Châtillon is to enable Orange to test different 5G use cases in heavily trafficked areas: enhanced multimedia experiences for people on the move (4K, 8K 360° high resolution video streaming, augmented, virtual and mixed reality), using 5G for video production, network gaming in the cloud, eSports tournaments, etc.). It is intended to be non-specialised, so this platform will host enterprises and start ups wanting to develop consumer applications.

The first experimentation phase will start before the end of 2019, and different steps have been identified: deployment of the test network; performance measurements (speed, coverage); partners testing the service using Sony devices equipped with a Qualcomm modem and processor.

In 2020, passengers travelling through Rennes train station will be able to connect to 5G hotspots and download videos to their mobile or tablet in just a few seconds, and then watch them while travelling in the train. Additional consumer and business services will be tested at a later stage.

The Orange Gardens 5G Lab is a site for collaborative innovation, providing Orange and its partners with an indoor and outdoor test environment with 5G connectivity. Since December 2018, around fifteen companies have been able to test innovative products and services, and benefit from the support of Orange experts. These 5G tests use the 3.4-3.8GHz frequency band.

In the next few months, the 5G Lab will open its doors to partners and companies who also want to test the local 5G network in the 26 GHz band, and evaluate its ability to deliver enhanced multimedia experiences in very busy places, as well as in certain mobile situations (4K/8K HD video streaming, 360°, augmented, virtual or mixed reality, 5G video production, online gaming in the cloud, eSports tournaments, etc.).

Mari-Noëlle Jégo-Laveissière, deputy CEO and chief technology and innovation officer at Orange, said: “The 26GHz spectrum band will allow us to explore new services based on 5G. We are aiming to set up experimental platforms that will stimulate collaboration on these new use-cases across all economic sectors.”


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