VIENNA, AUSTRIA — Austrian telecommunications operator Drei said that the expansion of the company’s current commercial 5G network will be mainly driven by market demand in the country,  the company’s CEO Jan Trionow told RCR Wireless News during ZTE’s Global Wireless User Congress and 5G Summit taking place this week in Vienna, Austria.

“Initially, we believe that 5G will be used to provide capacity and speeds for our broadband customers,” he said. The executive also highlighted that Drei is currently engaged with the study of several use cases for 5G in the country.

He said that approximately 70 5G stations are currently deployed in Linz, Vienna and Graz as well as Tirol and the Carinthia region.

“We currently have nearly 6,000 base stations across Austria, which would be gradually upgraded to 5G within the next couple of years. During next year we will see a significant coverage with 5G in Vienna,” he said.

Earlier this year, ZTE and Hutchison Drei Austria partnered to develop and deploy what they said was Austria’s first operational 5G network.

Last month, the telco announced the live operation of its 5G network in parts of Seestadt Aspern and Floridsdorf in the capital Vienna. This limited 5G launch in Vienna follows earlier activations in the city of Linz in June. The 5G network in Linz was first available to selected business clients. For the showcase in Linz, ZTE and Drei activated a total of 20 5G sites.  Hutchinson Drei Austria is aiming for full 5G coverage of the city by the end of the year.

Trionow said that Drei decided to initially launch 5G in Linz as this city is home of many large industrial companies. “Most of our current 5G base stations are located in Linz.” he said.

“We had trials with friendly users during the summer and then we were ready to launch commercial 5G services in September. We are the first operator in Austria to launch commercial 5G services,” Trionow said.

Drei, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-based CK Hutchison Holdings, secured 100 megahertz of 5G-suitable 3.5GHz spectrum covering all twelve designated regions of Austria  in March 2019. Tionow suggested that Drei will take part in a new auction for the provision of additional 5G spectrum in 2020.

In August, ZTE and Drei had announced a partnership to use real 5G technology for digitization, tourism and the environment in Austria’s state of Carinthia. As a result of the declaration of intent, live operation of 5G technology in Pörtschach/Wörthersee began on August 13, the two companies said.

Through interactive showcases, visitors are now able to enjoy a 360-degree, live view of the “Wörthersee” tourism region with virtual reality glasses and enjoy high-speed transfer speeds of up to one gigabit per second with a live demo of the latest 5G smartphone from the ZTE Axon 10 Pro series. Meanwhile, intelligent lighting masts in Austria and autonomous driving systems were put into operation in Pörtschach/Wörthersee in 2017, in cooperation with the project “Smart Urban Region Austria Alps Adriatic”, or SURAAA.

Trionow also said that Drei aims to start deploying small cells and announced plans to kick off a trial in Vienna in December.

At ZTE’s Global Wireless User Congress and 5G Summit, the Chinese vendor and Drei Austria also jointly demonstrated what they claim is the industry’s first end-to-end network slicing operation. One smart bionic mechanical dog equipped with 5G CPE for a data connection showed different potential application scenarios, such as rescuing, security patrol and guarding home. Together with 8k UHD video, drone and high-speed download services, a panoramic view of the future life with 5G was shaped.



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