5G devices are a step closer to becoming reality today, November 8, as several major communications industry players joined forces with Swisscom to achieve a global first by connecting a smartphone prototype to a live non-laboratory 3.5 GHz 5G network for the first time. Swisscom’s 5G network is equipped with Ericsson’s commercially available 5G New Radio hardware and software radio, transport and core network solutions.

Prototype 5G smartphone devices featured in the Swisscom test

The data transfer trial, which took place in Lucerne, Switzerland, saw a smartphone prototype, powered by Qualcomm Technologies’ Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ X50 5G modem and RF subsystem, successfully connect to Swisscom’s Ericsson-supplied 3GPP-compliant 5G New Radio (NR) network and display a 5G icon.

A hotspot device developed by Taiwanese original design manufacturer, Wistron NeWeb Corporation (WNC) - called the WNC MWH-5 - also successfully connected to the live network. The WNC MWH-5 is also powered by the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ X50 5G modem and RF subsystem.

Swisscom, which has a reputation as an early technology adopter, was among the first service providers to partner with Ericsson on 5G.

The company’s 5G 3.5 GHz network is now live using a test license for use case field trials in selected parts of Zurich, Geneva, Bern, Lucerne, and Burgdorf. Swisscom aims to have its commercial 5G network operational in 60 cities and communities by the end of 2019.

Urs Schaeppi, CEO Swisscom, says: “One year ago, in cooperation with Ericsson, we presented the first laboratory applications. Today, we are taking the next step by presenting a 5G smartphone prototype for the first time in real conditions on our 5G network. This modem, or chipset, will soon be inside the first 5G smartphones.”

The first 5G smartphones are expected to be available on the market by mid-2019.

Arun Bansal, Head of Market Area Europe and Latin America, Ericsson, says: “A high-performing 5G network is crucial for launching 5G services. Together with Qualcomm Technologies and WNC, Ericsson will continue to drive commercial readiness of the 5G ecosystem – now with the benefit of available 5G devices – and support Swisscom in successfully launching its 5G network.

“Ericsson, as a strategic partner, is proud to support Swisscom with its ambitious expansion of the 5G network. Together, Ericsson and Swisscom are kick-starting the 5G network rollout in Switzerland and preparing industries for 5G use cases that will benefit the whole economy.”

Ericsson’s New Radio 5G New Radio (NR) network incorporates hardware and software radio, transport and core network solutions.

Cristiano Amon, President, Qualcomm Technologies Incorporated, says: “Today, we are proud to have delivered this live 5G connection with Swisscom, WNC and Ericsson. This is the first 5G NR OTA (New Radio Over-the-Air) connection worldwide between devices and a live operator network using 3.5 GHz spectrum, marking an important milestone for the mobile industry in Europe to help enable OEMs (original design manufacturers) and operators to deliver 5G networks and devices in the first half of 2019."

Jeffrey Gau, Chief Executive Officer, Wistron NeWeb Corporation, says: “In February, we selected the Snapdragon X50 5G NR modem family for our 3GPP-compliant 5G NR device product launches in 2019. Today is the next step in accelerating 5G market development. WNC is proud to be here today, with our partners at Qualcomm Technologies, Swisscom and Ericsson on this momentous occasion for the industry.”