Ericsson and China Mobile Research Institute want to drive early applications of 5G mobile network technology. The two signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on 5G research and development, including the development of a new 5G air interface for commercial deployment by 2020.

China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile operator by number of subscribers, is accelerating investments in both LTE rollouts and 5G initiatives. The agreement will initially cover a five-year period, with the collaboration set to include verification, trial and standardization of a new 5G air interface for commercial deployment by 2020. Ericsson and China Mobile will also focus on network architecture evolution to support 5G, including close interworking between 5G and LTE, as well as innovative radio access network features to support future industrial use cases.

Ericsson has been an advocate for NB-IoT, which the 3GPP agreed to make part of LTE Release 13. A competing proposal had been pushed by Huawei and other companies called Narrowband Cellular IoT (CIoT). Supporters of NB-LTE say it allows for a high re-use of already existing LTE network technology for both infrastructure and chipsets.

“China Mobile officially deployed 4G at the end of 2013, and 4G+ is now officially launched,” Yuhong Huang, deputy head at CMRI, said in a press release. “We aim to improve network performance, which has provided 300 million customers with excellent user experiences, and which is the key driver for China’s Internet+ strategy.”

Chris Houghton, head of the North East Asia region at Ericsson, said that with commercial implementation expected by 2020, Ericsson’s 5G research is coming out of the labs and into live test networks, both in its headquarters in Sweden and in collaboration with operator partners in Northeast Asia, North America and Latin America.

In North America, Ericsson is one of the vendors involved in Verizon’s (NYSE: VZ) 5G Technology Forum. Last month, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said the carrier expects to be able to offer 5G wireless speeds up to 1 Gbps and that he expects the carrier to begin a commercial test of the technology as early as this month at the carrier’s Basking Ridge, N.J., headquarters.

Ericsson says it is driving technology advances with its Ericsson 5G radio prototypes that include advanced antenna design, multi-user MIMO and beamforming.

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