Given the recently rapid pace of major tech innovations, it’s easy to forget that only several years have passed since it became feasible to stream 4K videos over wired home broadband connections. Now Ericsson says its latest 5G hardware will be able to transfer a full hour of 4K video in as little as 14 seconds, with consumer availability coming later this year.
Though Ericsson opted to pull out of this year’s MWC trade show in Barcelona, the announcement of a new record 5G speed is in keeping with its tradition of annual breakthroughs timed to coincide with the annual event. Ericsson engineers in Kista, Stockholm hit a download speed of 4.3Gbps, flying faster than Huawei’s October 2019 rate of 3.67Gbps, and coming closer to the theoretical 7.5Gbps download peak of existing 5G chips.
It’s important to note that the Ericsson and Huawei numbers aren’t an apples-to-apples comparison. Ericsson achieved its record by aggregating eight millimeter wave frequency bands — also known as 8CC or eight component carriers — with a total of 800Mhz of spectrum. The test used a smartphone based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X55 5G modem and RF system, commercially available components connecting to the Ericsson Radio System Street Macro 6701.
By contrast, Huawei’s record was achieved using 100MHz of C-band spectrum on a live 5G network in Zürich, Switzerland. While only a handful of carriers will have both access to 800MHz of high band millimeter wave spectrum and the necessary small cells to deploy it, the smaller quantity of mid band spectrum selected by Huawei is within the reach of many carriers across the world — and doesn’t require a short-distance connection, either. The differences don’t diminish Ericsson’s record, but suggest that its number will be more challenging to achieve in the real world.
Ericsson views the 4.3Gbps speed as further proof of 5G’s ability to replace fiber, as millimeter wave has advanced from 1Gbps to 2Gbps to 4Gbps peaks in fairly short order, quadrupling the top broadband speeds offered by most cable providers. Beyond video streaming applications, the company also expects mixed reality and multi-player online gaming to benefit from the speed advances.