This month, Ericsson and its ecosystem partners achieved interoperability based on the recently finalized 5G New Radio (NR) Standalone standard. This week, Ålcom, one of Europe’s smallest service providers, conducted 5G field tests on the Baltic Sea island of Åland – further proof that 5G is ready for business as commercial launches begin taking place.

In Western Europe, the first 5G subscriptions are expected in 2019 and by the end of 2023, 5G is forecast to account for 21 percent of all mobile subscriptions in the region, according to Ericsson’s latest Mobility Report. 5G subscriptions are expected to be available in all regions in 2023.

The mobile services market in Finland has one of the highest penetration and data usage rates in the world. Commercial 5G services are expected there already in the beginning of 2019. Ålcom, a multiservice provider based on the island of Åland (population, about 30,000 people), sees the experience from these early 5G tests as a way to remain ahead of the competition.

5G radio - water

“We want to be prepared for the next technology. It’s good for us to be on board and get the experience for what 5G is capable of and what value it can offer our customers,” says Jonas Sundborg, Chairman of Ålcom.

On June 26-27, 2018, Ålcom and Ericsson conducted 5G field tests in Mariehamn, Åland’s largest town, on the 3.5 GHz band. Ericsson provided its 5G testbed and together with Ålcom, measured 5G radio capabilities in rural, urban, and maritime environments.

5G radio - Mariehamn

“We see 5G first of all as an enhancement to the existing mobile broadband usage with higher data rates and lower latency. 5G will enable much broader communication between people, machines and devices. But we also see new opportunities to broaden applications for example in factories and 5G-based communication with ferries and cruise ships in our harbors,” says Sundborg.

Ericsson is the supplier of Ålcom’s current LTE network including radio and core components. The results of the current 5G tests will help the operator with the design and eventual rollout of a future 5G network including planning for new products and services.