Orange Spain hailed what it described as a “major milestone” in the deployment of 5G networks in that country, claiming to have made the first voice and data call using 5G New Radio (NR) standalone (SA) technology in the market.
The carrier used equipment from China-based vendor ZTE, including a 5G NR SA base station, core 5G networktechnology, and test terminals. It said it achieved data download speeds of 876 Mb/s with one user terminal and 3.2 Gb/s with 12 user terminals working simultaneously in the same cell.
The announcement also confirms Orange Spain’s intention to use ZTE equipment in 5G network trials, although whether the carrier will use the Chinese vendor’s kit in its live 5G network remains to be seen. Mónica Sala, network director at Orange Spain, acknowledged that the “know-how of ZTE is evident in this milestone.”
Spanish media has already reported that Orange and Vodafone in Spain plan to use equipment from Huawei and ZTE in 5G pilots as part of projects submitted to obtain government subsidies.
Orange Spain was said to have submitted three projects and was proposing to use Huawei equipment to trial 5G technology in Malaga and Seville, while working with ZTE in Valencia and Nokia in Vigo. The carrier also collaborated with Ericsson during MWC 2019 on a 5G video transmission in Barcelona, and has unveiled Santiago de Compostela as an additional 5G test location.
Meanwhile, Spanish media reports claimed that Orange and Vodafone are close to finalizing a deal to share 5G network infrastructure in Spain to reduce costs. According to El Economista, the two carriers declined to comment on the report. The paper also noted the operators would need to secure approval for such an arrangement from government telecom regulator CNMC.
Vodafone Spain earlier this year claimed to have become the first carrier in the world to connect 5G smartphones from Huawei and Samsung based on the 3GPP 5G non-standalone (NSA) standard to its 5G network. The carrier is carrying out 5G pilots in Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Malaga, Bilbao, and Valencia and has so far deployed more than 85 5G sites in the six cities.
The report also suggested that Telefónica could be interested in sharing “non-critical” 5G sites, while MásMóvil is said to be seeking similar deals to reduce the cost of 5G deployments.