Rogers Launches Autonomous 5G Wireless Networks

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Rogers Communications Inc. launches standalone 5G wireless networks in Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver and Toronto.

The deployment makes the company the first of Canada’s major telecommunications companies to introduce stand-alone service.

The first deployments of the fifth generation wireless service were based on the installation of 5G compatible radios on top of existing 4G network backbones. Canada’s major wireless carriers – Rogers, Telus Corp. and Bell Canada of BCE Inc. – all used this approach to launch the first iterations of 5G service this year.

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To take full advantage of the benefits of the new generation of wireless technology, including much faster download and upload speeds, a significant reduction in latency and the ability to power smart cities and driverless cars – telecom providers will need to build new autonomous 5G backbone networks. (The heart can be thought of as the brain of a telecommunications network.)

The autonomous 5G networks launched by Rogers on Wednesday were built with equipment from Swedish supplier Ericsson. However, wireless customers will not see any improvement in their service until the next generation of 5G-enabled devices arrives; 5G smartphones currently available in Canada, including the latest version of the Apple iPhone, are only compatible with non-standalone 5G service and 4G networks.

Rogers was the first to start rolling out non-standalone 5G service in January. It is now available in 160 communities across the country.

Analysts have described the race for 5G as highly competitive. Bell and Telus, which share the radio access portion of their networks, launched the first 5G services in June.

“We have to be the first to get the [new] devices on the network, ”said Luciano Ramos, senior vice president of network development and core engineering at Rogers, in an interview. “It’s a competitive advantage.”

Being the first will help attract wireless customers, Ramos said, but will also allow Rogers to work with businesses as they look for ways to use 5G to improve their operations.

“Many of these use cases and business opportunities have yet to be developed or created,” Mr. Ramos said. “Being leaders puts us in a great position to talk to customers and work with customers and our partners in the innovation world to generate these business opportunities.”

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It is still relatively early in the 5G adventure, which has spanned several years, said David Everingham, chief technology officer at Ericsson Canada.

“This is an important step, but there is another series of important steps that will come next year and the following year to continue to ensure that 5G in Canada lives up to the potential that we believe. all that she has, ”Mr. Everingham said. Ericsson also supplies hardware for the fifth generation wireless networks from Telus and Bell.

In previous versions of wireless technology, a nationwide wireless network typically had a small number of cores, perhaps two or three, housed in large data center buildings.

“In 5G the concept is sort of evolving,” Ramos said. “You can have multiple cores in different parts of the network to support the traffic patterns, to deploy and support the technological capabilities that you are trying to achieve. “

Having multiple cores closer to users will dramatically reduce latency, referred to in the industry as latency, and should enable new applications, from mobile gaming to remote surgery.

Some analysts had predicted that Canadian operators would not launch standalone 5G networks until 2022 or even 2023.

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“I think analysts may have underestimated the pace of 5G and the willingness of market players to invest really early and take a leadership position, both for their own competitive reason and to really generate the benefits that can be seen in a larger economy. context, ”said Mr. Everingham, noting that only four other stand-alone grids have been launched in the world.

Other telecoms that have launched standalone 5G networks are T-Mobile in the United States, Telstra in Australia, Vodafone in Great Britain and China Telecom.

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