Vodafone Group’s Czech mobile unit has tested 5G technology in the spa town of Karlovy Vary in west Bohemia, ahead of its planned commercial launch of the next generation network platform in the first quarter of 2019. The trials reportedly achieved maximum download speeds of 1.84Gbps.
Karlovy Vary is the host town for the International Film Festival, where Vodafone Czech Republic is a partner company and is also a favoured location for the mobile network operator (MNO) to debut new technologies. For example, Karlovy Vary was one of the first cities to go live with 3G in the summer of 2010, and in 2013 experienced the Czech premiere of Vodafone’s LTE network. The popular resort is set to be a testbed area for 5G now that technical standards have been finalised. The MNO’s trials highlighted Huawei’s active antenna system which comprises a 64×64 MIMO configuration (i.e. 64 receiving and transmitting antennas) that can reportedly ‘instantly focus on the most demanding places, such as a concert, football match or demonstration, and effectively serve a much larger number of people’ simultaneously.
Vodafone’s Karlovy Vary trials are reportedly using 100MHz of bandwidth in the 3.5GHz band by dint of a two-month test permit that cost the cellco CZK200,000 (USD9,000) from the Czech telecommunication office (Cesky telekomunikacni urad, CTU). The CTU is expected to auction off 700MHz and 3.5GHz spectrum in 2019, which will augment the allocation of 3.7GHz spectrum to both O2 Czech Republic and Vodafone in July 2017. mobilenet.cz notes that rival operators O2 and T-Mobile have also carried out 5G trials. The former carried out a range of 5G tests at 3.7GHz, while also deploying WTTx technology and 2.6GHz TDD Massive MIMO (mMIMO) in high-population density areas. T-Mobile, meanwhile, tested mMIMO in March 2018 at four Petrovice base stations in the capital Prague.