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Samsung Electronics American and Cisco this week said they have achieved what they called the first successful deployment of an interoperable multi-vendor end-to-end 5G trial network alongside U.S. wireless carrier Verizon.

According to the companies, the milestone – an end-to-end data transmission from an end user, through a base station, the core, and out to the internet – was achieved as part of Verizon’s trial of fixed wireless 5G technology in Ann Arbor, Mich. The market is one of 11 in which Verizon is currently testing the technology.

Samsung and Cisco indicated the multi-vendor system was built based on Verizon’s 5G Technical Forum specification for 28 GHz, and utilized 5G virtualized packet core solutions from Cisco’s Ultra Services Platform with Cisco Advanced Services as well as Samsung’s virtual RAN solutions (vRAN), paired with Samsung’s 5G Radio base stations and 5G home routers. The latter are being used as customer premise equipment to deliver broadband services to Verizon’s 5G trial customers.

Though representatives for both Samsung and Cisco were declined to provide speed and propagation metrics from the test, they said system speeds are expected to be in the 1 Gbps range. Propagation, they said, will vary depending on terrain and building density, but so far the propagation results for the interoperable system have been exactly the same as those delivered by the standard system being used in Verizon’s other trial markets. That’s because the interoperable system used the same radio frequency (RF) layer as the standard system, Samsung Networks VP and GM of Magnus Ojert said. Only the Cisco core was different.

Mike Iandolo, VP and GM of Cisco Systems’ Mobility Business Group, said the company’s standard Ultra Services Platform offering was enhanced for this particular trial configuration to demonstrate a new control user plane separation architecture. In a 5G environment, Iandolo said that separation will help keep packets and data as close to the edge of the network as possible to minimize traffic flowing across the network and reduce latency, while maintaining a centralized control environment. Iandolo said the platform is already being deployed on Verizon’s network today, and will evolve to the 5G capabilities down the line as the standards are finalized.

But both Ojert and Iandolo said the main takeaway from the demonstration is the importance of interoperability. Iandolo said interoperability will give operators more flexibility to choose the right products for a given market as they move ahead with 5G buildouts.

“I think the exciting piece is the future is going to a virtualized world and there’s going to be more and more vendor interoperability. And I think you need that vendor interoperability to make sure that the ecosystem gets built. As the ecosystem gets bigger and more effective, I think products will develop faster, applications will be enhanced, and ultimately the (5G) business case will become more and more viable,” Ojert added. “A lot of carriers, they’re used to building a closed network where the one OEM has everything from beginning to end and I think this kind of shows that we have the capabilities of mixing and matching vendors in order to roll out 5G in a more effective manner.”

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