5G mobile data transmission has become the new standard. Voice telephony still works today over the legacy LTE network. Telekom wants to change that now.

More and more 5G networks are being expanded across Germany. The expansion of the new mobile communication standard for data and Internet telephony is especially progressing in major cities and urban areas.

Although deployment in rural and urban peripheral areas remains stalled, Telekom wants to take the next technical step and test voice telephony using the 5G standard – at Telekom’s test area in Merseburg in Saxony-Anhalt.

5G – New Voice over Radio

Until now, voice telephony uses the earlier 5G technology. LTE, also known as 4G, is currently used for regular calls via the Voice over LTE (VoLTE) service.

When it was introduced, it was distinguished above all by good sound quality, faster call setup and more stable connections.

With the shift to 5G, the goal is to elevate and improve telephony to the next level. The dial-up connection in the new 5G network will be called “Voice over New Radio” (VoNR).

test area merseburg

In Merseburg, Telekom technicians check sound quality using different sentence models that are sent and received via 5G transmission. Kevin Pascal Niep, Network Development Planner at Telekom-Technik explains how it works:

“We have a measurement vehicle that we drive through the test area. We also take measurements at various points within our test area. […] There are different audio models in different languages. Then they are spoken to. On the other hand, the MOS scale is used to measure how good the sound is.”

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The MOS (“Mean Opinion Score”) scale is used to assess the quality of speech transmissions. At Merseburg, the quality achieved very good values, assures Telekom technicians.

Standalone 5G network should become standard

The series of tests in Saxony are another step towards establishing the 5G network as a global standard for mobile communications. Until now, the modern network was used only for data transmission, but not for simple phone calls.

For this reason, the further expansion of the 5G network is critical: “In the future, we plan to build the 5G core network in order to map all services across it, such as LTE and 5G,” explains Michael Hess, who works as a technician at Telekom.

This has not yet happened for the following reasons: In order to be able to offer 5G to mobile customers as quickly as possible, providers initially opted for what is known as non-standalone 5G.

Although data rates of 1 Gbps have already been achieved here, the technical basis of the system still consists of the LTE core network. Switching to standalone 5G works without LTE and works independently.

“That’s why we can only test audio over a new radio now, because we only have the technology now,” explains communications technician Kevin Pascal Knipe.

For customers, this means above all else: better sound quality and shorter call set-up times. In other words, what LTE was actually able to do – it was significantly better and faster. It is not yet known when the standalone 5G network will be available across Germany.

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