European mobile network operator Orange announced on Wednesday that it had made Europe’s first voice and data call over a full 5G mobile network in cooperation with Chinese telecoms equipment maker ZTE.
Previous 5G calls in the region were made using Non-Standalone (NSA) architecture, which uses existing 4G network infrastructure to support 5G networks. The test, which took place in Valencia, Spain, used full Standalone (SA) mode, meaning the 5G network is built independently without architecture from current systems and therefore allows for 5G enhancements, according to the company statement. It was the first 5G SA call in Europe.
Spanish press reported the company’s plans to work with ZTE, Huawei and Nokia in its 5G trials across the country in early January. The operator stated that it would trial 5G technology in Valencia in partnership with ZTE, in Seville with Huawei, and in Vigo with Nokia.
“The test lays the foundation of 5G network’s commercial use, it also marks that Orange’s cooperation with ZTE has entered a more substantial phase, compared with its cooperations with Huawei and Nokia,” Xiang Ligang, director of the Information Consumption Alliance of China, told TechNode.
“But the test is still far from the commercial use of 5G,” Xiang said, adding that the process could last as long as a year.
Orange network director Mónica Sala said in the statement that it was a key to learn about this new and disruptive technology while taking advantage of continuous 4G growth to offer to customers “the best 5G network at the right time.” She added, “ZTE’s know-how has been shown in this milestone and we are very proud of the results.”
Orange is a French multinational telecoms operator. It is the fourth-largest mobile network operator in Europe after Vodafone, Telefónica and VEON.
ZTE chairman Li Zixue said last month in a shareholder meeting that the company owned more 3,000 5G patents, and had cooperated with 30 telecoms operators regarding 5G networks.