5G Milestones and the Importance of Partnerships in the Ecosystem

Diana Adams
9 min readJun 3, 2021


Thanks to the partnerships in the 5G ecosystem, the development and advancements in 5G move quickly. Growth in 5G (including connections) has continued to increase at a fast pace throughout the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Telco operators have now shifted their 5G focus to achieving the best coverage and capacity (network performance) as we move steadily towards 5G standalone connectivity. Below are 6 important 5G milestones, and why they matter.

By working with the device ecosystem, and leading within the area of infrastructure innovations, Ericsson brings a holistic approach to the challenges and opportunities of communications service providers.

In order to provide some context about these 5G milestones, I’d like to quickly explain the significance of 5G standalone connectivity, which is what we are moving towards now.

Currently, 4G and 5G are tied together. The 5G radios connect to the 4G Core. I recently heard Ericsson’s Fredrik Jejdling say, “4G and 5G will live together for a significant amount of time, but we are now moving into standalone after 2 years.

In 5G standalone, the 5G radio connects directly to the 5G Core. There is no dependence on the 4G network.

Standalone allows for even faster 5G speeds (6x faster access to data), plus better capacity and coverage. That’s not to mention the improved network slicing capabilities, which is tied to new business opportunities and revenue streams.

Ericsson’s technology provides an easy process for migrating from non-standalone (NSA) to standalone (SA) in both RAN and Core.

How is this possible? It’s because Ericsson’s Spectrum Sharing and Carrier Aggregation solutions guarantee better coverage and peak speeds in standalone when compared to non-standalone. Pretty cool, right?

6 Important 5G Milestones and Why They Matter

1. UScellular, Qualcomm, Ericsson, and Inseego Address Digital Divide with Multi-Gigabit Extended-Range 5G Milestone Over mmWave

Mobile connectivity affects global economic growth. The digital divide represents the social and economic gap between those who have access to 5G and 5G-enabled technologies, and those who don’t. It’s an important topic, and one that I’m passionate about.

This 5G milestone not only represents an inspiring accomplishment that was achieved through the partnership and collaboration of four companies, but it also helps to bridge the gap throughout rural, suburban and urban neighborhoods.

I believe that everyone has the right to reliable mobile connectivity, no matter where they live. This milestone brings that closer to a reality here in the USA.

According to Ericsson’s website:

UScellular, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., Ericsson and Inseego successfully achieved a 5G extended-range milestone over millimeter Wave (mmWave) on a commercial network. This milestone was accomplished at a distance of 7 km, the farthest 5G mmWave Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) connection in the United States, with sustained average downlink speeds of ~1 Gbps, sustained average uplink speeds of ~55 Mbps and instantaneous peak downlink speeds recorded at greater than 2 Gbps.

Bravo! 👏🏻 I know all four companies will continue to drive innovation with extended-range technology.

(Click over to 5G Tech Milestones to read more about this milestone and others)


2. Ericsson Accelerates 5G with Massive MIMO Single User Uplink Data Rate Record

Why are uplink data speeds a big deal? Because amongst other things, in addition to recording 4K/8K video on their 5G devices, consumers want to be able to share it quickly.

The ability to capture high resolution, film quality video and share it with friends and family, or on social media, is one of the alluring promises of 5G for consumers.

Ericsson achieved this 5G milestone by delivering a single user uplink data rate of 315 megabits per second (Mbps). Just to put this in perspective, it is about 15–20 times faster than today’s typical uplink speed.

We’ve all heard about the 5G use cases that involve augmented reality, virtual reality and video streaming. These use cases are dependent on good uplink speed in order to send upstream video data to be analyzed and processed in the cloud, then sent back to the user (downlink).

The uplink speed is important in the overall 5G experience. In our new normal world, fast uplink performance means we’ll never have to worry about a weak signal when we’re video conferencing on our phones.

Ericsson’s 5G Uplink Booster software is specifically designed to expand coverage and maximize uplink capability by ensuring a robust radio signal at the edge.

(Click over to 5G Tech Milestones to read more about this milestone and others)

3. Telstra, Ericsson and Qualcomm Achieve World First, Record of 5Gbps 5G Download Speed on a Commercial Network

This is another one of the many 5G milestones that speaks to the importance of partnerships in the 5G ecosystem.

Ericsson is a key player in (and driver of) this open ecosystem. 5G is the platform of innovation, but everyone I know is excited about the increase in speed and low latency.

This milestone is an important achievement because consumers expect high speed and low latency with 5G. These two combined will vastly improve our mobile experience. There are many use case examples that will open up with the increased speed and low latency of 5G (especially as we get closer to standalone connectivity).

The examples that come to mind are smart cities, automated factories, and remote surgeries. In order to meet the increasing demands of these three use cases and many more, Ericsson and their partners continuously push the 5G envelope.

For this milestone, Telstra, Ericsson and Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. set a new 5G maximum download speed record on a commercial network of 5Gbps for a single user. Most importantly, it was achieved on a 5G standalone network! This ensures the low latency that really showcases the power of 5G .

This achievement happened on the Gold Coast at the 5G Innovation Centre using the commercial production network.

As Ericsson’s Mats Arvedson explains, “By testing network and user equipment in labs and commercial networks, Ericsson can ensure the quality, functionality and interoperability of the features being developed.

This accomplishment means that Telstra customers will have an enhanced 5G experience with greater speed, less lag and better overall performance across the network.

(Click over to 5G Tech Milestones to read more about this milestone and others)

4. Telia and Ericsson First to Trial 5G Carrier Aggregation in the Nordics

Together with their partners and customers, Ericsson is continuously testing, learning and pushing the boundaries for how 5G can meet the ever-changing needs of consumers and enterprises.

For this milestone, Telia and Ericsson partnered to launch the world’s first successful 5G carrier aggregation trial in Norway. Telia’s mobile and FWA customers can now confidently look ahead to an even better 5G experience with enhanced capacity, coverage, and speed.

Carrier aggregation allows operators to use multiple sub-6 GHz spectrum channels simultaneously. Upon completing the testing phase, Telia will be able to maximize the existing spectrum and increase coverage in the mid-band frequencies (3.6 GHz), which will also increase capacity and peak throughput for faster data speeds.

According to Ericsson, “Service providers who are now starting to deploy mid-band spectrum can extend 5G coverage by as much as 50 percent through 5G carrier aggregation.

Carrier aggregation is an important component of the overall 5G experience. Operators that implement this tool will be able to differentiate themselves by delivering high-capacity 5G apps (i.e. ultra-high resolution 4K/8K video streaming, 5G gaming and immersive media).

This milestone also speaks to the effectiveness of 5G carrier aggregation itself. With Ericsson’s 5G Carrier Aggregation solution, the mid-band uplink channels (which are limiting) can be moved to the low-band frequency layer, enabling a significant increase in coverage, which is vital for optimal user experience.

(Click over to 5G Tech Milestones to read more about this milestone and others)

5. Ericsson and MediaTek Dual Connectivity Breakthrough Makes the Path to 5G Standalone Easier

In 2021, I think most people would agree that many countries have a divided society. Sadly, I know this to be true in the USA.

In our world of unfortunate division, I am inspired by the partnerships highlighted in this article and many others that don’t get the attention they deserve.

The partners in the 5G ecosystem set a good example for us all. They continue to demonstrate what is possible with the common goal of cooperation, collaboration, innovation and a desire to push technology forward.

For this milestone, Ericsson worked with MediaTek to move one step closer to 5G standalone connectivity. This accomplishment paves the way for the development of the high performance, low latency 5G apps that we are all excited about.

One example where this ultra low latency becomes relevant is in real-time music collaboration where musicians can be in different locations around the world and record music together in real time. How amazing is that? 🎸

According to Ericsson:

The partners have proven that Dual Connectivity — combining the wide coverage of sub-6GHz bands with the higher data rates of millimeter wave on commercial hardware and chipsets — boosts 5G user experience with greater speeds and lower latency. They achieved this new milestone by aggregating 800MHz of high-band spectrum and 60MHz of mid-band spectrum to reach speeds of up to 5.1Gbps on an individual user device. This is the first time that millimeter wave (mmWave) has been tested in a 5G Standalone (5G SA) mode combined with mid-band spectrum.

(Click over to 5G Tech Milestones to read more about this milestone and others)

6. Ericsson breaks the record on 5G C Band single user speed

We all know what it’s like to be in an area of “bad cell coverage” as we call it. It’s a problem my grandchildren will never experience (along with waiting for a video to buffer).

Ericsson has taken another giant leap forward to help ensure that consumers experience high data speeds across much more of the network. This increased coverage will also pave the way for other 5G technologies to be developed more quickly.

The example that always comes to my mind whenever I think about better coverage is connected cars. Imagine driving a connected car into an area without coverage. Yes, the car would likely have redundancies built in, but with increased coverage, this problem would go away altogether. 🚙

For this milestone, Ericsson set the record for peak data rates on a single C Band user device, exceeding 1.5 Gbps.

This milestone leveraged the most advanced Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) technology with 5G. Ericsson optimized its MIMO algorithm using advanced reciprocity-based beamforming technology, forming four separate optimal beams from its base station towards the single user while minimizing the interferences between the beams, to reach the peak throughput. The live C Band network at its North American headquarters uses a 64T64R AAS radio at the rooftop of its office building, supported by a 5G core network as part of the 5G Distributed Innovation Network at Ericsson’s facility in Plano, Texas.

(Click over to 5G Tech Milestones to read more about this milestone and others)


As you see, many of these 5G milestones were made possible because of the cooperation and collaboration of the partnerships within the 5G ecosystem.

The team at Ericsson is committed to being the ecosystem’s soil to help their customers grow quickly. This commitment is moving the industry closer and closer to 5G standalone connectivity.

It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes of all time.

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. -Helen Keller

Thank you, as always, for reading my blog post! Don’t forget to check the more complete list of 5G milestones. 📲

[Disclaimer: This article was sponsored by Ericsson.]



Diana Adams

Tech journalist, Apple ACN, Digital Transformation, IoT, 5G, AI and the future of tech.