EE, the UK’s largest mobile network operator and part of the BT Group, said that it has become the first UK provider to successfully demonstrate pre-standard 5G backhaul technology, using it to connect its unique Helikite ‘air mast’ mobile coverage solution.
EE’s patent-pending Helikite solution uses mini mobile sites attached to a helium balloon to provide 4G mobile coverage where permanent sites have been damaged by extreme weather and other disasters, or in areas where there is no 4G coverage. The addition of pre-5G backhaul increases 4G speeds and lowers latency, which increases the number of people that the air mast could keep connected, and gives them a faster internet connection, said EE.
The demonstration is an example of the potential applications and customer benefits of BT and EE’s 5G research activities which are being progressed well ahead of the deployment of future 5G networks.
The ‘pre-standard 5G’ backhaul technology – demonstrated for the first time at BT’s Innovation Week at its labs in Adastral Park, Ipswich – uses millimetre wave (mmWave) frequencies, regarded as one of the main building blocks of future 5G technology.
By applying the technology to deliver the mobile backhaul requirements for EE’s recently announced 4G Helikite solution, EE and the BT Labs have proven the potential for delivering even faster 4G speeds and lower latency using mmWave.
The innovative mobile backhaul solution demonstration uses 26GHz test spectrum to connect the Parallel Wireless small cell on the Helikite to an Athonet virtualised Evolved Packet Core (EPC) on the ground using a PHAZR link.