Deutsche Telekom: full force ahead for 5G

  • 5G FOR GOOD: DT is paving the way for the next communications standard
  • More than speed: DT demonstrates global network slicing for the first time
  • Once doesn’t count: guaranteed latency for 5G
  • Network build-out for sensors: NarrowBand-IoT to be launched in eight countries
  • Smart glasses for augmented reality: DT and ZEISS form partnership

The 5G countdown is on. Deutsche Telekom is placing a clear emphasis on the next-generation communications standard at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Guided by the motto “5G FOR GOOD”, the company will show visitors how the new technology is making its way from the lab to the streets. A network that both achieves and reliably guarantees low latency times is essential for industry. This guaranteed latency is one of the main features that set 5G apart. Using various applications, DT will demonstrate additional features, such as precise positioning, moving processing power online, high bandwidth, and the integration of fixed and mobile network on the basis of 5G. This year, customers can already start experiencing the network for the world of sensors. DT is building a narrowband network in eight countries. NarrowBand-IoT technology, a preliminary stage of 5G, allows connected sensors to transmit data via a narrowband connection. DT is cooperating with the technology company ZEISS on augmented reality. Both companies are now working together to advance the development of smart glasses and AR technology.

“5G takes connectivity to a new level. In the future, at least 50 billion things, along with billions of people, will need access to the network,” says Tim Höttges, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Deutsche Telekom. “Many aspects of everyday life will get their own, custom-tailored network: enormous bandwidth for entertainment, ultrafast response times for cars and robots, and durable narrowband connections for parking sensors and streetlights.”

“5G is more than just speed. 5G is like a decathlon – you don’t win it in the sprint alone,” Claudia Nemat, Deutsche Telekom Board member for Technology and Innovation, emphasizes. “5G is going to change our society for good. It will make things possible that we cannot even begin to imagine today. We are ready to actively help shape these changes.”

Full force ahead for 5G

DT and SK Telecom have jointly built and demonstrated the world’s first intercontinental 5G trial network. In 5G, network slicing will allow the operator to configure an end-to-end network that provides the desired overall functionality and service parameters. Federated network slicing for 5G roaming extends this concept to a visited network. A repair worker for instance can now communicate via AR in real-time with support colleagues in a visited network. In the scenario that has been tested by the two companies, local breakout and edge cloud have been used to enable the best service experience in terms of latency and throughput for the AR repairman.

DT is also proving its technology leadership when it comes to the latency of its 5G network. Having set a record latency time of one millisecond last year, the company is now also able to guarantee stable, low latency times in the 5G network. Industrial applications in particular demand absolute reliability. In Barcelona, DT is demonstrating an industrial robot whose response time is always exactly eight milliseconds. 5G latency times can be selected flexibly for different needs and service levels.

Network roll-out for NarrowBand-IoT in eight countries

When it comes to 5G, DT is paving the way for the Internet of Things through narrowband IoT sensors. The network is being upgraded for sensors that can show users available parking spaces or transmit the fill levels of rubbish bins – all at low data transmission rates with an extremely long battery life of up to ten years. DT is set to start the roll-out of network technology for these narrowband applications in Germany and the Netherlands in the weeks ahead. In Greece, Poland, Hungary, Austria, Slovakia and Croatia, DT plans to expand its current NarrowBand-IoT network coverage to include additional cities over the course of the year.

DT is carrying out an initial commercial test for NarrowBand-IoT together with ista, a German energy services provider that currently operates more than 15 million connected devices in multi-family dwellings throughout Europe. ista will start using DT’s narrowband network for the smart recording, reporting and billing of energy consumption. “Communication with and among sensors will play a major role this year on the road to 5G,” Claudia Nemat says. “The commercialization of the Internet of Things via narrowband communication is starting now!” 

Partnership for smart glasses with ZEISS

Smart glasses and augmented reality (AR) are among the major trends. The future 5G network is crucial to the success of this technology. To lay the foundation in this field, DT has agreed to cooperate with ZEISS with the aim of exploring and promoting the potential applications and the future of smart glasses. In a separate venture company, ZEISS, a world leader in the fields of optics and optoelectronics, developed the prototype of an optical system which makes portable and fashionable data glasses possible. Data glasses display data and information in the wearer’s field of vision. Information, apps, images and much more appear in this space before one of the user’s eyes as if on a “flying computer screen.”

DT will supply the technology to connect the data glasses directly to the network and the cloud while also conducting research on potential ways to move the hardware, which is still installed in the wearables, to the cloud. This will allow smart glasses to look just like a regular pair of glasses. However, efforts in many areas – hardware, software, displays, applications, user interface and connectivity – are still necessary to make data glasses truly usable and marketable. The two partners plan to tackle these issues together.

“Today, smartphones are the devices for fast, mobile internet access. In the future, other devices, such as smart glasses, could challenge their dominance in this field,” Tim Höttges says. “Optics from ZEISS and DT’s network form the foundation for smart glasses. Together, we want to gain experience and advance the possibilities of AR.”

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